Source: Archives of Ontario - N258 Reel
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Walter Huston - Walter Huston, rangy Toronto-born veteran of 48 years
in the theatre, died of a heart attack here yesterday - the morning after
his 66th birthday. Tributes from his fellow workers streamed in for the versatile
actor who was an established star on Broadway for years before he came west
to carve as deep a niche in Hollywood's hall of fame. But the most touching
salute on an old trouper came from his son, Director John Huston, in a description
of his father's last moments: "He died peacefully and without struggle. I
have never seen so quiet a death. He died as modestly as he had lived." Actress
Mary Astor, who co-starred with Huston 14 years ago in "Dodsworth," called
him "a great person and a great actor." And Actor Wendell Corey, who was in
Huston's last picture, completed at Christmas, said: "Everyone in Hollywood
feels a great loss. Walter Huston was not only a great actor but a great friend."
Funeral arrangements awaited the arrival of his widow, former actress Nan
Sunderland, flying here from New York. Huston was stricken suddenly Thursday
evening. He had attended a small birthday luncheon at the hotel where he lived
when in town. But a "sharp pain in my back" cancelled plans for a party and
put him to bed. He never got up again. He was conscious intermittently until
he died, said his son, adding: "He was too good a man to get sick. When the
time came, he just died."
WAS VERSATILE ACTOR
The robust elder Huston, who reached his movie peak as the grizzled gold prospector in his son's picture, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," left behind him a string of dramatic portrayals matched by few on screen or stage. He and his son both won Academy awards for the picture, the only father and son team so honored. His versatility enabled him to play such diverse parts as "Abraham Lincoln," the outlaw in "The Virginian," the minister in "Rain," a Chinese peasant in "Dragon Seed," and a song and dance man in "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Before he won the coveted Academy award for "Sierra Madre" in 1948, he received Oscar nominations for his roles in "Dodsworth," "All That Money Can Buy," and "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Huston, of Scottish and Irish ancestry, was born April 6, 1884, in Toronto. He worked as an engineer for several years before finally launching his theatrical career with Bayone Whipple, who became his second wife in 1915. His first wife was Rhea Gore, John's mother. The vaudeville act of Whipple and Huston was a headliner for 12 years. Then he switched to the legitimate theatre and was a hit in "Mr. Pitt," his first big Broadway role. After successes in "Desire Under the Elms," "The Barker," and "Elmer the Great," Huston scored one of his major achievements in the title role of "Dodsworth" in 1934. In 1938 he stopped the show in "Knickerbocker Holiday" with his singing of "September Song," still a favorite. Huston and Miss Sunderland were married in 1931, after Miss Whipple divorced him. BORN IN TORONTO Son of Robert Huston, a building contractor, the actor was born in Toronto, April 6, 1884. He grew up on Major St., and was active in the social and athletic life of St. Simon's Anglican church, Howard St. When he was 16 the church staged a minstrel show at Massey Hall and there he made his first theatre appearance - as an end man. Not long afterward Huston joined a repertory company which played briefly in Ontario stock theatres before heading for U.S. Travelling chiefly on freights, the group disbanded in New York state when it ran into sheriff trouble. In 1905 Huston made his first New York stage appearance, playing in "Convict Stripes." Seven years later his name blazed in lights on the vaudeville circuits. From Broadway he went on to Hollywood and leading character parts.
WALKED ON STILTS
He never forgot that Toronto was his first home, returning every few years to visit friends and relatives here and in Orangeville. A brother, Alex., died in Toronto several years ago. The tall actor was in Canada twice during the war to take part in bond drives. In 1946 he launched a Community Chest drive here. One of his favorite reminiscences was the tale of how he learned to walk on stilts as a boy on Major St. The ability came in handy years later, he would tell reporters, when he wore a wooden leg as Peter Stuyvesant in "Knickerbocker Holliday." ------ Toronto Star The great actor, a cousin of Mr. Arthur Huston, proprietor of the Orangeville Golf Club at Riverholme, Melville, was in years gone by an occasional visitor there.
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