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Walter Huston

Walter Huston
File:Walter Huston - 1950.jpg
Huston in The Furies (1950)
Born Walter Thomas Houghston
(1883-04-05)April 5, 1883
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died April 7, 1950(1950-04-07) (aged 67)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Actor, Singer
Years active 1924–1950
Spouse(s) Rhea Gore (1904–1912; divorced)
Bayonne Whipple (1915–1924; divorced)
Ninetta (Nan) Sunderland (1931–1950; his death) (1898–1973)
Children John Huston (1906–1987)
Relatives Margaret Carrington (sister)

Walter Thomas Huston[1] (/ˈwɔːltər ˈhjuːstən/; April 5, 1883[1] – April 7, 1950) was a Canadian-born American actor. He was the father of actor and director John Huston, the grandfather of Pablo Huston, Walter Anthony (Tony) Huston, Anjelica Huston, Danny Huston, and Allegra Huston, and the great-grandfather of actor Jack Huston.

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 Houghston, a provincial 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 famous theatrical voice coach Margaret Carrington (1877-1941).

His family moved from Orangeville, Ontario before his birth 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 till 1909 during which time the couple had a son, John in 1906.[6]


In 1909, his marriage floundering, he began appearing in vaudeville with an older actress called Bayonne Whipple (1865 - 1937) (born Mina Rose).[7] 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 in which he appeared in a play Mr. Pitt. Several following Broadway plays solidified his fame, e.g., Desire Under the Elms, Kongo, The Barker, Elmer the Great, 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 Huston as a practical joke had his father enter the scene and die over 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 Cotton, Walter Huston sang the title song in the movie. The "September Song" was very popular romantic tune during the 1950s and 60s. His last film was the 1950, 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.


He died in Hollywood from an aortic aneurysm, two days after his 67th birthday.[citation needed] He was cremated and his ashes were buried at Belmont Memorial Park in Fresno, California.[8] Huston has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6626 Hollywood Blvd.[9][10] He is also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[11]


His son John Huston went from a screenwriter, to an Academy Award-winning director, to an acclaimed actor. All of his grandchildren have become actors, as well as his great-grandson.

Granddaughter Anjelica Huston 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.

Partial filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1929 Gentlemen of the Press Wickland Snell (with Kay Francis)
The Lady Lies Robert Rossiter (with Claudette Colbert)
The Virginian Trampas (with Gary Cooper)
1930 The Virtuous Sin Gen. Gregori Platoff (with Kay Francis)
The Bad Man Pancho Lopez
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln
1931 The Criminal Code Mark Brady (with Constance Cummings and Boris Karloff)
A House Divided Seth Law (with Helen Chandler)
The Star Witness District Attorney Whitlock
The Ruling Voice Jack Bannister
1932 The Beast of the City Jim Fitzpatrick (with Jean Harlow and Jean Hersholt)
Night Court Judge Moffett (with Phillips Holmes, Lewis Stone and W. S. Van Dyke)
American Madness Dickson (with Pat O'Brien)
Rain Alfred Davidson (with Joan Crawford)
Kongo Flint (with Lupe Vélez and Virginia Bruce)
The Woman from Monte Carlo Captain Carlaix
Law and Order Frame 'Saint' Johnson
The Wet Parade Pow Tarleton
1933 Gabriel Over the White House Hon. Judson Hammond (with Franchot Tone, C. Henry Gordon, and David Landau)
Ann Vickers Barney Dolphin (with Irene Dunne)
Hell Below Lieut. Comdr. T.J. Toler USN
Storm at Daybreak Mayor Dushan Radovic
The Prizefighter and the Lady Professor
1934 Keep 'Em Rolling Sgt. Benjamin E. 'Benny' Walsh
1935 Trans-Atlantic Tunnel President of the United States
1936 Dodsworth Sam Dodsworth (with Ruth Chatterton, Mary Astor, and David Niven)
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actor
Rhodes of Africa Cecil John Rhodes
1938 Of Human Hearts Ethan Wilkins
1939 The Light That Failed Torpenhow
1941 The Devil and Daniel Webster Mr. Scratch (with James Craig, Edward Arnold, and Anne Shirley)
(also titled All That Money Can Buy)
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Actor
Swamp Water Thursday Ragan (with Walter Brennan and Anne Baxter)
The Maltese Falcon Captain Jacoby (with Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet)
The Shanghai Gesture Sir Guy Charteris (with Gene Tierney)
1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy Jerry Cohan (with James Cagney)
Nominated-Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Always In My Heart MacKenzie 'Mac' Scott (with Kay Francis)
1943 The Outlaw Doc Holliday (with Thomas Mitchell and Jane Russell)
Edge of Darkness Dr. Martin Stensgard (with Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan)
Mission to Moscow Ambassador Joseph E. Davies
The North Star Dr. Kurin
December 7th Uncle Sam 'U.S.'
1944 Dragon Seed Ling Tan
1945 And Then There Were None Dr. Edward G. Armstrong (with Barry Fitzgerald and June Duprez)
1946 Dragonwyck Ephraim Wells (with Gene Tierney and Vincent Price)
Duel in the Sun The Sinkiller (with Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, and Jennifer Jones)
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Howard (with Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt)
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)
Summer Holiday Mr. Nat Miller
1949 The Great Sinner General Ostrovsky
1950 The Furies T.C. Jeffords (with Wendell Corey and Barbara Stanwyck)


See also


  1. ^ a b c According to the Province of Ontario. Ontario, Canada Births, 1869–1911. At
  2. ^
  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. ^; Rhea Gore Huston (1882-1938)
  6. ^ Great Stars of the American Stage by Daniel C. Blum, c. 1952 (this second edition 1954)Profile #87
  7. ^ Walter Huston/Bayonne Whipple; response from dated March 17, 2005
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame members". 
  12. ^ "Walter Huston". IMDb. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 

Further reading

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

External links

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