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Hollywood’s elite do Matthau ‘laugh-fest’

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Five hundred Hollywood insiders packed the Directors Guild theater for a memorial to Walter Matthau that turned out to be as much a laugh-fest as a Friars Club roast.

The tone Sunday was set by an invitation that specified "cheerful attire" and, except for some tears from Matthau's longtime buddy Jack Lemmon, it captured the comedy of Matthau on the screen and off.

Lemmon, whose collaboration with Matthau began with "The Fortune Cookie," told of taking his friend to a preview of a film in which Lemmon starred.

"The exodus of the public began after the first reel," Lemmon recalled, "and by the end of this movie there were two rows of people left — probably from the studio. I asked, 'Walter what do you think of the picture?' He said, 'Get out of it!' "

Among the mourners were Diane Keaton, Neil Simon, Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren, Gregory Peck, Angie Dickinson and Carl Reiner.