Walter Thomas Huston (//; né Houghston; April 5, 1883 – 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 in The Furies (1950)
Walter Thomas Houghston
April 5, 1883
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Died||April 7, 1950 (aged 67)|
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Belmont Memorial Park|
(m. 1904; div. 1912)
(m. 1915; div. 1924)
Ninetta (Nan) Sunderland
|Relatives||Tony Huston (grandson)|
Anjelica Huston (granddaughter)
Danny Huston (grandson)
Allegra Huston (granddaughter)
Huston was born in Toronto, Ontario, where he attended Winchester Street Public School. He was the son of Elizabeth (née McGibbon) and Robert Moore Huston, a farmer who founded a construction company. He was of Scottish and Irish descent. 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, 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, with his marriage foundering, he appeared with an older actress named Bayonne Whipple (born Mina Rose, 1865–1937). 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, when he performed there in the play Mr. Pitt. He then solidified his Broadway career with roles in productions such as Desire Under the Elms, Kongo, The Barker, and Elmer the Great.
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 Virginian (1929), a Western that costars Gary Cooper and Richard Arlen. Some of Huston's other early sound roles include Abraham Lincoln (1930), Rain (1932), and Gabriel Over the White House (1933).
Huston remained busy on stage and screen throughout the 1930s and 1940s, becoming during that period one of America's most prominent actors. He starred as the title character in the 1934 Broadway adaptation of Sinclair Lewis's novel Dodsworth as well as in 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).
Huston makes an uncredited appearance in the 1941 film noir classic The Maltese Falcon, portraying the ship's captain who is shot just before delivering the black bird to Sam Spade, played by Humphrey Bogart. Walter's son, John Huston, directed the picture. As a practical joke during filming, John had his father enter the scene and die in more than 10 different takes.
Among several of his contributions to World War II Allied propaganda films, Huston in an uncredited role portrays a military instructor in the short Safeguarding Military Information (1942). That film was produced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and distributed by the War Activities Committee of the Motion Pictures Industry. He, along with Anthony Veiller, is also a narrator in the Why We Fight series of World War II documentaries directed by Frank Capra. Other films of this period in which he appears are The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) as Mr. Scratch, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), and Mission to Moscow (1943). In the latter feature, a pro-Soviet World War II propaganda film, he plays United States Ambassador Joseph E. Davies.
Huston portrays the character Howard in the 1948 adventure drama The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which was also directed by his son John. Based on B. Traven's novel, the film depicts the story of three gold prospectors 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 is The Furies (1950) in which he costars with Barbara Stanwyck and Wendell Corey. In that Western, Huston's final line is "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. He was cremated and his ashes were buried at Belmont Memorial Park in Fresno, California.
In 1960, a decade after his death, Huston received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6624 Hollywood Boulevard, memorializing his contributions to the entertainment industry through his extensive, critically acclaimed work in motion pictures. He was also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.
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, Scarecrow Press published John Weld's September Song—An Intimate Biography of Walter Huston.
- According to the Province of Ontario. Ontario, Canada Births, 1869–1911. ancestry.com
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- 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.
- Huston, John (1994). An Open Book. Da Capo Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-306-80573-1.
- Arthur Huston, "Melville Junction", Wm. Perkins Bull fonds, ca. 1934. Available at the Region of Peel Archives, Brampton.
- "Walter Huston/Bayonne Whipple; response from Ancestry.com dated March 17, 2005". Archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com. 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
- "From the Archives: Heart Attack Fatal to Actor Walter Huston". Los Angeles Times. April 8, 1950.
- "The Screen's Newest Lincoln", The New Movie Magazine (New York, N.Y.), March 1930, p. 82. Internet Archive, San Francisco, California. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
- 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.
- "Hollywood Death of Walter Huston". The Glasgow Herald. Glasgow, Scotland. April 6, 1950. p. 4. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
- Huston, John (1994). An Open Book. Da Capo Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-306-80573-1.
- "Services Planned for Walter Huston". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. April 10, 1950. p. 9. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
- "Walk of Fame Stars Walter Huston". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce/Walk of Fame.
- "Hollywood Star Walk: Walter Huston". latimes.com.
- "Theater Hall of Fame members".
- Alistair, Rupert (2018). "Walter Huston". The Name Below the Title : 65 Classic Movie Character Actors from Hollywood's Golden Age (softcover) (First ed.). Great Britain: Independently published. pp. 129–133. ISBN 978-1-7200-3837-5.
- Weld, John (1998). September Song: An Intimate Biography of Walter Huston (hardcover) (First ed.). Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-3408-8.
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