Walter Huston

Walter Huston

Born: April 5, 1883
Died: April 7, 1950 (at age 67)
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Walter Thomas Huston (/ˈhjuːstən/;[1] né Houghston; April 5, 1883[1] - April 7, 1950) was a Canadian actor and singer. Huston won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, directed by his son John Huston. He is the patriarch of the four generations of the Huston acting family, including his son John, Anjelica Huston, Danny Huston, Allegra Huston and Jack Huston. The Huston family has three generations of Academy Award winners: Walter, his son John and John's daughter Anjelica.

Huston was born in Toronto, Ontario, where he attended Winchester Street Public School.[1][2] He was the son of Elizabeth (née McGibbon) and Robert Moore Huston, a farmer who founded a construction company.[3] He was of Scottish and Irish descent.[4] He had a brother and two sisters, one of whom was the theatrical voice coach Margaret Carrington (1877-1941).

His family moved, before his birth, from Orangeville, Ontario, where they were farmers. As a young man, he worked in construction and in his spare time attended the Shaw School of Acting. He made his stage debut in 1902. He went on to tour in In Convict Stripes, a play by Hal Reid, father of Wallace Reid and also appeared with Richard Mansfield in Julius Caesar. He again toured in another play The Sign of the Cross. In 1904, he married Rhea Gore (1882-1938)[5] and gave up acting to work as a manager of electric power stations in Nevada, Missouri. He maintained these jobs until 1909.


In 1909, his marriage foundering, he appeared with an older actress named Bayonne Whipple (1865-1937) (born Mina Rose).[6] They were billed as Whipple and Huston and, in 1915, they married. Vaudeville was their livelihood into the 1920s.

Huston began his Broadway career on January 22, 1924. He appeared in a play, Mr. Pitt. Several more Broadway plays solidified his fame, e.g., Desire Under the Elms, Kongo, The Barker, Elmer the Great and Dodsworth.

Once talkies began in Hollywood, he achieved fame in both character roles and as a leading man. His first major role was portraying the villainous Trampas in the western The Virginian (1929) with Gary Cooper.

He starred as the title character in the Broadway theatrical adaptation of Sinclair Lewis's novel Dodsworth in 1934 and the play's film version two years later. For his role as Sam Dodsworth, Huston won the New York Critic's Circle Award for Best Actor and was nominated for the Academy Award.

Huston remained busy throughout the 1930s and 1940s, both on stage and screen (becoming one of America's most distinguished actors). He performed "September Song" in the original Broadway production of Knickerbocker Holiday in 1938. Among his films are Abraham Lincoln (1930), Rain (1932), Gabriel Over the White House (1933), The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and Mission to Moscow (1943), a pro-Soviet World War II propaganda film as Ambassador Joseph E. Davies.

In 1941, Walter Huston portrayed the part of the ship's captain, who is shot while delivering the black bird to Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon. This was an uncredited performance. Walter's son, John Huston, directed the picture. John, as a practical joke, had his father enter the scene and die in more than 10 different takes.

In 1948, he played Howard in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was also directed by his son, John Huston. The film was based on B. Traven's novel, which told the story of three gold diggers in 1920s post-revolution Mexico. Walter Huston won the Golden Globe Award and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, while John Huston won the Best Director Academy Award, thus making them the first father and son to win at the same ceremony.

In the 1950 release of the film entitled, "September Affair", starring Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotten, Walter Huston sang the title song in the movie. "September Song" was a very popular romantic tune during the 1950s and '60s. He had originally appeared in the Broadway show "Knickerbocker Holiday", where he debuted the song. His last film was the 1950 western The Furies with Barbara Stanwyck.

Along with Anthony Veiller, he narrated the Why We Fight series of World War II documentaries directed by Frank Capra.


On April 7, 1950, two days after his 67th birthday, Huston died of an aortic aneurysm in his hotel suite in Beverly Hills.[7][8] He was cremated and his ashes were buried at Belmont Memorial Park in Fresno, California.[9]


In 1960, Huston received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6624 Hollywood Boulevard for his contributions to motion pictures.[10][11] He is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[12]

Huston's son John initially became a screenwriter, before becoming an Academy Award-winning director and acclaimed actor. All of Huston's grandchildren have become actors, as well as his great-grandson. Granddaughter Anjelica sang his famous "September Song" on the May 7, 2012 episode of the NBC TV series Smash.

In 1998, John Weld wrote and published the biographical book September Song - An Intimate Biography of Walter Huston.


Year Title Role Notes
1929 Gentlemen of the Press Wickland Snell Film debut
1929 The Lady Lies Robert Rossiter
1929 The Virginian Trampas
1930 Behind the Make-Up Joe in Clark & White's Office Uncredited
1930 Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln
1930 The Bad Man Pancho Lopez
1930 The Virtuous Sin Gen. Gregori Platoff
1931 The Criminal Code Mark Brady
1931 The Star Witness District Attorney Whitlock
1931 The Ruling Voice Jack Bannister
1931 A House Divided Seth Law
1932 The Woman from Monte Carlo Captain Carlaix
1932 The Beast of the City Jim Fitzpatrick
1932 Law and Order Frame "Saint" Johnson
1932 The Wet Parade Pow Tarleton
1932 Night Court Judge Andrew J. Moffett
1932 American Madness Thomas A. Dickson
1932 Kongo Flint Rutledge
1932 Rain Alfred Davidson
1933 Gabriel Over the White House Hon. Judson Hammond
1933 Hell Below Lieut. Comdr. T.J. Toler USN
1933 Storm at Daybreak Mayor Dushan Radovic
1933 Ann Vickers Judge Barney "Barney" Dolphin
1933 The Prizefighter and the Lady Professor Edwin J. Bennett
1934 Keep 'Em Rolling Sgt. Benjamin E. 'Benny' Walsh
1935 Trans-Atlantic Tunnel President of the United States
1936 Rhodes of Africa Cecil John Rhodes
1936 Dodsworth Sam Dodsworth New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actor
1938 Of Human Hearts Ethan Wilkins
1939 The Light That Failed Torpenhow
1941 The Maltese Falcon Captain Jacoby Uncredited
1941 The Devil and Daniel Webster Mr. Scratch Alternative title: All That Money Can Buy
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actor
1941 Swamp Water Thursday Ragan
1941 The Shanghai Gesture Sir Guy Charteris
1942 Always In My Heart MacKenzie "Mac" Scott
1942 In This Our Life Bartender Uncredited
1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy Jerry Cohan Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1943 December 7th Uncle Sam
1943 The Outlaw Doc Holliday
1943 Edge of Darkness Dr. Martin Stensgard
1943 Mission to Moscow Ambassador Joseph E. Davies
1943 The North Star Dr. Kurin
1944 Dragon Seed Ling Tan
1945 And Then There Were None Dr. Edward G. Armstrong
1946 Dragonwyck Ephraim Wells
1946 Duel in the Sun The Sinkiller
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Howard Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor (2nd place)
1948 Summer Holiday Mr. Nat Miller
1949 The Great Sinner General Ostrovsky
1950 The Furies T.C. Jeffords (final film role)

[ Source: Wikipedia ]