Walter Huston, born Walter Houghston in Canada, started out in vaudeville but became a water engineer to support his new family. After a few years, however, despite his stage fright, he devoted himself to performing. After 15 years, at nearly 40 years of age, he made it to Broadway, debuting in a lead role. When sound films came along, he went to Hollywood, appearing in dozens of films over the next 20 years, though he often returned to the stage as well.
Huston was nominated for an Academy Award four times, including for the title role in “Dodsworth” and the first title role in “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” He received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and for his best-known performance, as the old prospector in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”
For that film, starring Humphrey Bogart and written and directed by his son John Huston, who started out as a screenwriter but scored big with his directing debut, “The Maltese Falcon,” the elder Huston won an Oscar. (He died that same year.)
The younger Huston, a larger-than-life Hollywood legend who earned ten Oscar nominations, wrote and directed for 45 years, and acted often, too, most memorably in “Chinatown.” As a child, he worked with his father in vaudeville, overcame chronic illness in childhood to become a boxer during his teens, and acted briefly in theater before joining the Mexican army as a cavalry officer.
He then worked briefly as a journalist and screenwriter, and had bit parts in a few films, before studying art in Europe, followed by a return to acting and screenwriter. Then, in 1941, he was invited to write and direct “The Maltese Falcon,” which made Bogart a star — and made Huston’s reputation.
John’s elder son Tony wrote the screenplay for his father’s last film, “The Dead,” and was on the production crew of another John Huston film, “Wise Blood,” but opted to go into law. His sister Anjelica, however, has worked steadily since the mid-1970s, most notably in “The Grifters” and “Prizzi’s Honor”; for the latter role, she became the Huston family’s third-generation Oscar winner. (She also directed a few movies.) Her father directed her in several films, including Prizzi’s Honor” and his final film, “The Dead.”
Tony and Anjelica’s half-brother, Danny, has worked in film, mostly as an actor, though he has a half dozen directing credits as well; two of the best-known films he appeared in are “Children of Men” and “21 Grams.” A half-sibling, John Huston’s stepdaughter Allegra, worked as a production assistant on one of John Huston’s films and went into film production.
Jack, Laura, and Matthew Huston, children of Tony, have worked in film: Jack has acted in about a dozen films and a few TV series or miniseries, Laura had one small role, and Matthew has directed and done other behind-the-camera work on a couple of films.