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Walter Huston was born Walter Houghston in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1884. His parents were of Scottish descent, and he grew up to become an engineer, but he also acted on the stage. In 1909, he quit engineering and devoted all his energies to acting. But it wasn't until 1924 that he made his Broadway debut, and his film debut five years later. In his sixth movie (still in 1929), he got the important part of Trampas in The Virginian (opposite Gary Cooper and Richard Arlen), which was made in both a silent and sound version. The following year Huston played the title role in D.W. Griffith's Abraham Lincoln, and he was a major star, at the age of 46! He was much in demand, and made 17 movies between 1931 and 1933 alone! I have sought out and seen many of these movies, and highly recommend them, especially Gabriel Over the White House, a most unusual fantasy that has the President of the U.S. possessed by a heavenly spirit, who uses radical methods to fight the Great Depression. In 1936, Huston played my favorite role of his, that of Sam Dodsworth in Dodsworth (nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award for this film). I am a major fan of Sinclair Lewis' books, but I feel William Wyler improved on the source novel, and Huston, Ruth Chatterton, and Mary Astor were perfect in their portrayals ("Love has to stop somewhere short of suicide")! He later received praise for his work in Yankee Doodle Dandy (nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for this film). Another great later Huston portrayal was as "Mr. Scratch" in William Dieterle's All That Money Can Buy, and it is another film I highly recommend! Huston was married three times, and his first marriage (from 1904 to 1912) produced a child, John, who had begun acting and screenwriting in 1930, but it was not until 1941 that John could get hired as a director, and it was on Warner Bros third try at adapting The Maltese Falcon (John also wrote the screenplay). His dad Walter played the part of Capt. Jacobi unbilled as a favor to his son. In 1948, John directed The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and dad Walter superbly played one of the three lead roles (opposite equally superb Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt) and John deservedly won the Best Director and Screenplay Oscars, and Walter won the Best Supporting Oscar, saying, "Many years ago.... Many, MANY years ago, I brought up a boy, and I said to him, 'Son, if you ever become a writer, try to write a good part for your old man sometime.' Well, by cracky, that's what he did!" Walter Huston died the following year, but in the movie September Affair, they re-used Huston's old recording of September Song (from the 1938 play, Knickerbocker Holiday) and it was released as a single and went to #1! Walter Huston was a superlative actor, able to play both hero and villain, and I highly recommend all of his movies, especially those specifically noted above! Huston passed away in 1950 at the age of 67.
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