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

(1883-04-05)April 5, 1883
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedApril 7, 1950(1950-04-07) (aged 67)
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active1902–1950
Rhea Gore
(m. 1904; div. 1912)
(m. 1914; div. 1931)
Ninetta (Nan) Sunderland
(m. 1931)
ChildrenJohn Huston
RelativesAnjelica Huston (granddaughter)
Danny Huston (grandson)

Walter Thomas Huston (/ˈhjuːstən/ HEW-stən;[1] 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, grandchildren Anjelica Huston and Danny Huston, as well as great-grandchild Jack Huston. The family has produced three generations of Academy Award winners: Walter, his son John, and granddaughter Anjelica.

Early life

Huston was born on April 5, 1883, 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).[citation needed]

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), a sports editor for various publications, and gave up acting to work as a manager of electric power stations in Nevada, Missouri. He maintained these jobs until 1909.[citation needed]

The couple's only child John Huston was born on August 5, 1906, in Nevada, Missouri, at which point Rhea gave up her work to concentrate on motherhood.[citation needed]


The "first camera study" of Huston for his title role in D. W. Griffith's Abraham Lincoln (1930)[6]
Ruth Chatterton and Huston in Dodsworth (1936)
Huston in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

In 1909, with his marriage foundering, he appeared with an older actress named Bayonne Whipple (born Mina Rose, 1865–1937).[7] They were billed as Whipple and Huston.

Walter and Rhea Gore Huston divorced in 1913, and in December 1914, Huston married Mina Rose. Vaudeville was their livelihood into the 1920s, and Walter's son John was sent to live and study in boarding schools. During summer vacations, John traveled separately with each of his parents  – with father Walter on vaudeville tours, and with his mother Rhea to horse races and other sports events.

Walter Huston began his Broadway career on January 22, 1924, when he performed there in the play Mr. Pitt.[8] 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).

The career of Mina Rose (a.k.a. Bayonne Whipple) did not follow the same trajectory as Huston's, and their act -- and marriage -- collapsed after Huston began to accept solo work. After several years of separation, the two divorced in 1931.[9] Huston remarried that same year, to Ninetta (Nan) Sunderland,[10] and the two remained married until Huston's death.

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).[11]

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.[citation needed]

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 the mysterious 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, Huston died of an aortic aneurysm in his hotel suite in Beverly Hills, two days after his 67th birthday.[12][13] He was cremated.[14]


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.[15][16] He was also a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.[17]

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.[citation needed]

In 1998, Scarecrow Press published John Weld's September Song—An Intimate Biography of Walter Huston.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1929 Gentlemen of the Press Wickland Snell Film debut
The Lady Lies Robert Rossiter
The Virginian Trampas
1930 Behind the Make-Up Joe in Clark & White's Office Uncredited
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln
The Bad Man Pancho Lopez
The Virtuous Sin Gen. Gregori Platoff
1931 The Criminal Code Mark Brady
The Star Witness District Attorney Whitlock
The Ruling Voice Jack Bannister
A House Divided Seth Law
1932 The Woman from Monte Carlo Captain Carlaix
The Beast of the City Jim Fitzpatrick
Law and Order Frame "Saint" Johnson
The Wet Parade Pow Tarleton
Night Court Judge Andrew J. Moffett
American Madness Thomas A. Dickson
Kongo Flint Rutledge
Rain Alfred Davidson
1933 Gabriel Over the White House Hon. Judson Hammond
Hell Below Lieut. Comdr. T.J. Toler USN
Storm at Daybreak Mayor Dushan Radovic
Ann Vickers Judge Barney "Barney" Dolphin
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
Dodsworth Sam Dodsworth New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor
1938 Of Human Hearts Ethan Wilkins
1939 The Light That Failed Torpenhow
1941 The Maltese Falcon Captain Jacoby Uncredited
The Devil and Daniel Webster Mr. Scratch Alternative title: All That Money Can Buy
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor
Swamp Water Thursday Ragan
The Shanghai Gesture Sir Guy Charteris
1942 Always In My Heart MacKenzie "Mac" Scott
In This Our Life Bartender Uncredited
Yankee Doodle Dandy Jerry Cohan Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1943 December 7th Uncle Sam
The Outlaw Doc Holliday
Edge of Darkness Dr. Martin Stensgard
Mission to Moscow Ambassador Joseph E. Davies
The North Star Dr. Kurin
1944 Dragon Seed Ling Tan
1945 And Then There Were None Dr. Edward G. Armstrong
1946 Dragonwyck Ephraim Wells
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)
Summer Holiday Mr. Nat Miller
1949 The Great Sinner General Ostrovsky
1950 The Furies T.C. Jeffords

See also


  1. ^ a b c According to the Province of Ontario. Ontario, Canada Births, 1869–1911.
  2. ^ "Walter Huston -". Archived from the original on November 15, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
  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. ^ "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.
  7. ^ "Walter Huston/Bayonne Whipple; response from dated March 17, 2005". 2005-03-17. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  8. ^ "From the Archives: Heart Attack Fatal to Actor Walter Huston". Los Angeles Times. April 8, 1950.
  9. ^ Daily Boston Globe (October 14, 1931): 16.
  10. ^ "Heart Attack Fatal to Actor Walter Huston" Los Angeles Times (April 8, 1950).
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Hollywood Death of Walter Huston". The Glasgow Herald. Glasgow, Scotland. April 6, 1950. p. 4. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  13. ^ Huston, John (1994). An Open Book. Da Capo Press. p. 185. ISBN 0-306-80573-1.
  14. ^ "Services Planned for Walter Huston". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Spokane, Washington. April 10, 1950. p. 9. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  15. ^ "Walk of Fame Stars Walter Huston". Hollywood Chamber of Commerce/Walk of Fame. 25 October 2019.
  16. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Walter Huston". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ "Theater Hall of Fame members".

Further reading