Oscar Actors: Huston, Walter

Born Walter Houghston April 6, 1884; died in 1950.

He studied engineering but was drawn to the stage and joined a road show. By 1905, he was quite successful in vaudeville and was cast in a New York play. However, after his marriage that year to newspaperwoman Rhea Gore and the birth of his son John (director-to-be John Huston) in 1906, he abandoned the stage and worked as an engineer at water and electrical plants in Nevada and then St. Louis, Mo.

Huston returned to the stage in 1909 and soon became a popular headliner in the vaudeville circuit. In 1913, he divorced and later married twice more. In 1924, he starred in the Broadway plays “Mr. Pitt” and “Desire Under the Elms.” In 1929, he joined the many Broadway players who switched to the movies in Hollywood.

Huston was cast in some romantic leads as well as character parts and received enthusiastic press notices for his portrayal of the title role in D. W. Griffith's “Abraham Lincoln”(1930). After becoming a film actor, he occasionally returned to Broadway, where he scored personal triumphs in “Dodsworth,” a role he later repeated on the screen, and “Knickerbocker Holiday,” in which he gave his famous rendition of “September Song.” The New York Film Critics voted Huston best actor of 1936 for his performance in William Wyler's screen version of “Dodsworth.”

Huston received greater accolades for his portrayal of the Devil in “All That Money Can Buy,” a screen adaptation of Benet's “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” Other memorable roles followed, culminating in his superb turn in his son's “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” for which he won the best supporting actor Academy Award for 1948.

Oscar Alert

In 1936, Walter Huston competed for the Best Actor Oscar with Paul Muni, who won for “The Story of Louis Pasteur,” Gary Cooper in “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” William Powell in “My Man Godfrey,” and Spencer Tracy in “San Francisco.”

In 1948, Huston won the Supporting Actor Oscar in a contest that included Charles Bickford in “Johnny Belinda,” Jose Ferrer in “Joan of Arc,” Oscar Homolka in “I Remember Mama, and Ceil Kellaway in “The Luck of the Irish.”