Oscar Actors: Huston, Walter–Background, Career, Awards

November 25, 2020
Walter Huston Career Summary:

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Walter Thomas Huston (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 Oscar winners: Walter, his son John, and John’s daughter Anjelica.

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.[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, 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).[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, when he performed there in the play Mr. Pitt.[7] 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.[13][14] He was also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[15]

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.

Filmography

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 (All That Money Can Buy) Best Actor nomination
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 Supporting Actor nomination
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; 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)