Walter Huston

Walter Thomas Huston (/ˈhjuːstən/;[1] 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 family has produced three generations of Academy Award winners: Walter, his son John, and John's daughter Anjelica Huston.

Walter Huston
Walter Huston - 1950
Huston in The Furies (1950)
Walter Thomas Houghston

April 5, 1883
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedApril 7, 1950 (aged 67)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Resting placeBelmont Memorial Park
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1902–1950
Rhea Gore
(m. 1904; div. 1912)

Bayonne Whipple
(m. 1915; div. 1924)

Ninetta (Nan) Sunderland (m. 1931)
ChildrenJohn Huston
RelativesTony Huston (grandson)
Anjelica Huston (granddaughter)
Danny Huston (grandson)
Allegra Huston (granddaughter)

Early life

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 Melville,[5] just south of 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) 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 (born Mina Rose, 1865–1937).[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 was cast 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. His early films are Abraham Lincoln (1930), Rain (1932), Gabriel Over the White House (1933).

Huston remained busy throughout the 1930s and 1940s, both on stage and screen, becoming one of America's most prominent actors. He starred as the title character in the Broadway theatrical adaptation from Sinclair Lewis's novel Dodsworth in 1934 and the play's film version released two years later. For his role as Sam Dodsworth, Huston won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and was Oscar nominated. He performed "September Song" in the original Broadway production of Knickerbocker Holiday (1938). Huston's recording of "September Song" is heard repeatedly in September Affair (1950).[7]

Huston made an uncredited appearance in The Maltese Falcon (1941) portraying the ship's captain, who is shot just before delivering the black bird to Sam Spade. 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.

Among several contributions to World War II Allied propaganda films, Huston portrayed (uncredited) the part of a military instructor in a short propaganda film, Safeguarding Military Information (1942). The film produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and distributed by the War Activities Committee of the Motion Pictures Industry. This was an performance. Along with Anthony Veiller, he narrated the Why We Fight series of World War II documentaries directed by Frank Capra. Also in this period he appeared in The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) as Mr. Scratch, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and Mission to Moscow (1943), a pro-Soviet World War II propaganda film, in which he played Ambassador Joseph E. Davies.

Huston played Howard in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), 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. His last film was the western The Furies (1950) with Barbara Stanwyck, where his final lines are "there will never be another one like me".


On April 7, 1950, two days after his 67th birthday, Huston died of an aortic aneurysm in his hotel suite in Beverly Hills.[8][9] He was cremated and his ashes were buried at Belmont Memorial Park in Fresno, California.[10]


In 1960, Huston received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6624 Hollywood Boulevard for his contributions to motion pictures.[11][12] He is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[13]

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 "September Song" on the May 7, 2012 episode of the NBC TV series Smash.

In 1998, the biography September Song – An Intimate Biography of Walter Huston by John Weld was published by The Scarecrow Press.


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)

See also


  1. ^ a b c According to the Province of Ontario. Ontario, Canada Births, 1869–1911.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Morrison, Michael A. (1999). John Barrymore, Shakespearean Actor (Volume 10 of Cambridge studies in American theatre and drama). Cambridge University Press. p. 75. ISBN 0-521-62979-9.
  4. ^ Huston, John (1994). An Open Book. Da Capo Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-306-80573-1.
  5. ^ Arthur Huston, "Melville Junction", Wm. Perkins Bull fonds, ca. 1934. Available at the Region of Peel Archives, Brampton.
  6. ^ "Walter Huston/Bayonne Whipple; response from dated March 17, 2005". 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  7. ^ Crowther, Bosley (February 2, 1951). "September Affair,' With Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotten, Opens at the Music Hall". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  8. ^ "Hollywood Death of Walter Huston". The Glasgow Herald. Glasgow, Scotland. April 6, 1950. p. 4. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  9. ^ Huston, John (1994). An Open Book. Da Capo Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-306-80573-1.
  10. ^ "Services Planned for Walter Huston". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. April 10, 1950. p. 9. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  11. ^ "Walk of Fame Stars Walter Huston". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce/Walk of Fame.
  12. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Walter Huston".
  13. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame members".

Further reading

  • John Weld. September Song: An Intimate Biography of Walter Huston". The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1998.

External links

Abraham Lincoln (1930 film)

Abraham Lincoln, also released under the title D. W. Griffith's "Abraham Lincoln", is a 1930 pre-Code American biographical film about Abraham Lincoln directed by D. W. Griffith. It stars Walter Huston as Lincoln and Una Merkel, in her second speaking role, as Ann Rutledge. Her first speaking role was in a short film, Love's Old Sweet Song (1923) filmed in the Phonofilm sound-on-film process. The script was co-written by Stephen Vincent Benét, author of the Civil War prose poem John Brown's Body, and Gerrit Lloyd. This was the first of only two sound films made by Griffith.

The film entered the public domain in 1958 when the initial copyright expired. The copyright holders did not elect to extend it for a second 28 year term.

American Madness

American Madness is a 1932 American pre-Code film directed by Frank Capra and starring Walter Huston as a New York banker embroiled in scandal.

Ann Vickers (film)

Ann Vickers is a 1933 American Pre-Code romantic drama, starring Irene Dunne and Walter Huston. It is based on the novel of the same name by Sinclair Lewis.

Dragonwyck (film)

Dragonwyck is a 1946 American period drama film made by Twentieth Century-Fox. It was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, and produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and Ernst Lubitsch (uncredited), from a screenplay by Mankiewicz, based on the novel Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. The music score was by Alfred Newman, and the cinematography by Arthur C. Miller. The film stars Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, and Vincent Price.

Hell Below

Hell Below is a 1933 American MGM pre-Code film set in the Adriatic Sea during World War I about submarine warfare based on Commander Edward Ellsberg's novel Pigboats, starring Robert Montgomery, Walter Huston, Robert Young, Madge Evans, and Jimmy Durante.

Keep 'Em Rolling

Keep 'Em Rolling is a 1934 American drama film, directed by George Archainbaud from a screenplay by Albert Shelby Le Vino and F. McGrew Willis. It starred Walter Huston and Frances Dee and the men of the US Army 16th Field Artillery. Filmed partially at Fort Myer, VA, during WW I, the story revolves around the field artillery horse named Rodney and his soldier, Benny Walsh (played by Walter Huston). The movie is based on the short story "Rodney" written by Leonard Hastings Nason that appeared in January 21, 1933, issue of the Saturday Evening Post magazine.

Law and Order (1932 film)

Law and Order is a 1932 American pre-Code Western film starring Walter Huston, Harry Carey, Andy Devine, Russell Hopton and Russell Simpson. It was the first movie to depict the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona.The film is based on the novel Saint Johnson, by W. R. Burnett. Walter Huston plays the part of lawman Frame Johnson, a fictionalized version of Wyatt Earp, and Russell Hopton plays his brother Luther Johnson. One of the best early Westerns in its character development, Law and Order features a script by John Huston, Walter's soon-to-be-famous son, and Tom Reed, who provided dialog for many movies in the 1930s and 1940s. Because of changes made during the film's production, all scenes involving the actress Lois Wilson were cut prior to the film's release.

Night Court (film)

Night Court is a 1932 American pre-Code crime film directed by W. S. Van Dyke and written by Bayard Veiller and Lenore Coffee. The film stars Phillips Holmes, Walter Huston, Anita Page, Lewis Stone and Mary Carlisle. The film was released June 4, 1932, by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Of Human Hearts

Of Human Hearts is a 1938 American drama film directed by Clarence Brown and starring Walter Huston, James Stewart and Beulah Bondi. Stewart plays a proud and ungrateful son who rebels against his preacher father and (after his father's death) neglects his poverty-stricken mother. Bondi was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Our Common Heritage

Our Common Heritage – Great Poems Celebrating Milestones in the History of America is a Decca Records album of phonograph records by various artists celebrating American ideals and patriotic themes. The album was edited, with notes, by Louis Untermeyer; original music and sound effects were composed by Victor Young and Lehman Engel with the Jean Neilson Verse Choir. Artists reading are Brian Donlevy, Agnes Moorehead, Fredric March, Walter Huston, Pat O'Brien, and Bing Crosby.

September Song

"September Song" is an American pop standard composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. It was introduced by Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway musical production Knickerbocker Holiday. After being used in the 1950 film September Affair, the song has been recorded by numerous singers and instrumentalists. It was also used during screen credits in the British television series May to December, the name of which quotes the opening line of the song.

The Bad Man (1930 film)

The Bad Man is a 1930 American Pre-Code Western film starring Walter Huston which was produced and released by First National Pictures, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. The movie is based on Porter Emerson Browne's 1920 play of the same name and is a sound remake of the 1923 silent version of the same name. The film stars Walter Huston, Dorothy Revier, Sidney Blackmer and James Rennie.

The Lady Lies (film)

The Lady Lies is a 1929 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Hobart Henley, and starring Walter Huston, Claudette Colbert and Charles Ruggles.

The North Star (1943 film)

The North Star (also known as Armored Attack in the US) is a 1943 war film produced by Samuel Goldwyn Productions and distributed by RKO Radio Pictures. It was directed by Lewis Milestone, written by Lillian Hellman and featured production design by William Cameron Menzies. The film starred Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews, Walter Huston, Walter Brennan and Erich von Stroheim. The music was written by Aaron Copland, the lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and the cinematography was by James Wong Howe. The film also marked the debut of Farley Granger.

The film is about the resistance of Ukrainian villagers, through guerrilla tactics, against the German invaders of the Ukrainian SSR. The film was an unabashedly pro-Soviet propaganda film at the height of the war.In the 1950s it was criticized for this reason and it was re-cut to remove the idealized portrayal of Soviet collective farms at the beginning and to include references to the Hungarian Uprising of 1956.

The Ruling Voice

The Ruling Voice is a 1931 American pre-Code gangster drama directed by Rowland V. Lee, starring Walter Huston, Loretta Young and Doris Kenyon. It had an alternate title Upper Underworld, and was produced by First National Pictures and distributed by Warner Bros.

The Star Witness

The Star Witness is a 1931 American pre-Code crime drama film produced and distributed by Warner Bros. and directed by William A. Wellman. The film stars Walter Huston, Frances Starr, Grant Mitchell, and Chic Sale. The Star Witness was nominated for an Academy Award at the 5th Academy Awards for Best Story.A print is preserved by The Library of Congress.

The Virtuous Sin

The Virtuous Sin is a 1930 American Pre-Code comedy-drama film directed by George Cukor and Louis J. Gasnier and starring Walter Huston, Kay Francis, and Kenneth MacKenna. The screenplay by Martin Brown and Louise Long is based on the play The General by Lajos Zilahy. A separate German-language version The Night of Decision was shot at Paramount's Joinville Studios in Paris.

The Wet Parade

The Wet Parade is a 1932 American pre-Code film drama directed by Victor Fleming and starring Robert Young, Myrna Loy, Walter Huston, Lewis Stone and Jimmy Durante.. It is based on a 1931 novel by Upton Sinclair.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 American biographical musical film about George M. Cohan, known as "The Man Who Owned Broadway". It stars James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, and Richard Whorf, and features Irene Manning, George Tobias, Rosemary DeCamp, Jeanne Cagney, and Vera Lewis. Joan Leslie's singing voice was partially dubbed by Sally Sweetland.

The film was written by Robert Buckner and Edmund Joseph, and directed by Michael Curtiz. According to the special edition DVD, significant and uncredited improvements were made to the script by the twin brothers Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein.

In 1993, Yankee Doodle Dandy was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Awards for Walter Huston

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