John Huston - Actors and Actresses

Nationality: Irish/American. Born: John Marcellus Huston in Nevada, Missouri, 5 August 1906; son of the actor Walter Huston; became Irish citizen, 1964. Family: Married 1) Dorothy Jeanne Harvey, 1926 (divorced 1933); 2) Leslie Black, 1937 (divorced 1944); 3) Evelyn Keyes, 1946 (divorced 1950), one adopted son; 4) Ricki Soma, 1950 (died 1969), one son, two daughters including the actress Anjelica; 5) Celeste Shane, 1972 (divorced 1977); also son Daniel by Zoë Sallis. Education: Attended boarding school in Los Angeles and at Lincoln High School, Los Angeles, 1923–24. Career: 1916—taken to California for cure after doctors in St. Paul, Minnesota, diagnose enlarged heart and kidney disease; 1920s—boxer in California; 1924—actor in New York; 1927—competition horseman, Mexico; 1928–30—journalist in New York; 1930—scriptwriter and actor in Hollywood; 1932—worked for Gaumont-British, London; 1933—moved to Paris, intending to study painting; 1934—returned to New York, editor Midweek Pictorial , and stage actor; 1936—writer for Warner Brothers, Hollywood; 1941—directed first film, The Maltese Falcon ; 1942–45—served in Signal Corps, Army Pictorial Service, discharged as major; 1947—with William Wyler and Philip Dunne, formed Committee for the 1st Amendment to counteract HUAC investigation; 1948—formed Horizon pictures with Sam Spiegel; 1952—formed John Huston Productions for unrealized project Matador ; 1955—moved to Ireland; from mid-1960s—narrator for TV; 1972—moved to Mexico. Awards: Legion of Merit, U.S. Armed Services, 1944; Oscar for Best Direction, for Treasure of the Sierra Madre , 1947. Died: Of pneumonia, in Newport, Rhode Island, 28 August 1987.

Films as Actor:


The Shakedown (William Wyler) (unbilled); Two Americans (short)


Hell's Heroes (William Wyler) (unbilled); The Storm (William Wyler) (unbilled)


The Cardinal (Preminger) (as Cardinal Glennon); The Directors (pr: Greenblatt) (appearance)


Candy (Marquand) (as Dr. Dunlap); The Rocky Road to Dublin (Lennon—doc) (appearance)


Myra Breckenridge (Sarne) (as Buck Loner); The Other Side of the Wind (Welles) (uncompleted)


The Bridge in the Jungle (Kohner) (as Sleigh); Man in the Wilderness (Sarafian) (as Captain Filmore Henry); The Deserter (Kennedy) (as General Miles)


Battle for the Planet of the Apes (J. Lee Thompson) (as Lawgiver)


Chinatown (Polanski) (as Noah Cross)


Breakout (Gries) (as Harris Wagner); The Wind and the Lion (Milius) (as John Hay)


Sherlock Holmes in New York (Sagal—for TV) (as Professor James Moriarty)


The Rhinemann Exchange (Kennedy—for TV) (as Ambassador Henderson Granville); Tentacles (Hellman) (as Ned Turner); Il Grande Attacco ( The Biggest Battle ; The Great Battle ; Battle Force ; The Battle of Mareth ) (Lenzi); Angela (Sagal) (as Hogan); Hollywood on Trial (Helpern Jr.—doc) (appearance)


The Word (Richard Long—for TV) (as Nathan Randall); El Triangulo diabolico de la Bermudas ( The Bermuda Triangle ) (Cardona)


Jaguar Lives! (Pintoff) (as Ralph Richards); Winter Kills (Richert) (as Pa Kegan)


Il Visitatore ( The Visitor ) (Paradisi) (as Jersey Colsowitz); Head On ( Fatal Attraction ) (Grant) (as Clarke Hill); Agee (Spears—doc) (appearance); John Huston's Dublin (McGreevy—doc) (appearance)


To the Western World (Kinmonth) (as narrator); John Huston: A War Remembered (Washburn—doc) (appearance)


Cannery Row (Ward) (as narrator); Lights! Camera! Annie! (Kuehn—doc) (appearance)


Lovesick (Brickman) (as Larry Geller, M.D.); A Minor Miracle ( Young Giants ) (Tannen)


The Black Cauldron (Berman and Rich—animation) (as nar rator); George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (Stevens Jr.—doc) (appearance)


Directed by William Wyler (Slesin—doc) (appearance)

Films as Director:


The Maltese Falcon (+ sc)


In This Our Life (+ co-sc, uncredited); Across the Pacific (co-d)


Report from the Aleutians (doc) (+ ro as narrator, sc); Tunisian Victory (Capra and Boulting; directed some replacement scenes when footage lost, + co-commentary)


The Battle of San Pietro (doc) (+ ro as narrator, sc)


Let There Be Light (doc) (+ ro as narrator, co-sc, co-ph); A Miracle Can Happen ( On Our Merry Way ) (King Vidor and Fenton; directed some Henry Fonda/James Stewart sequences, uncredited)


The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (+ ro as American tourist, sc); Key Largo (+ co-sc)


We Were Strangers (+ bit role as bank clerk, co-sc)


The Asphalt Jungle (+ pr, co-sc)


The Red Badge of Courage (+ sc); The African Queen (+ co-sc)


Moulin Rouge (+ pr, co-sc)


Beat the Devil (+ co-pr, co-sc)


Moby Dick (+ pr, co-sc)


Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (+ co-sc); A Farewell to Arms (Charles Vidor; direction begun by Huston)


The Barbarian and the Geisha ; The Roots of Heaven


The Unforgiven


The Misfits


Freud ( Freud: The Secret Passion ) (+ ro as narrator)


The List of Adrian Messenger (+ bit role as Lord Asthon)


The Night of the Iguana (+ co-pr, co-sc)


La Bibbia ( The Bible . . . in the Beginning ; The Bible ) (+ ro as Noah/narrator)


Casino Royale (co-d, + ro as McTarry); Refelections in a Golden Eye (+ voice heard at film's beginning)


Sinful Davey ; A Walk with Love and Death (+ ro as Robert the Elder); De Sade (Enfield; d uncredited) (+ ro as the Abbe)


The Kremlin Letter (+ ro as Admiral, co-sc)


The Last Run (Fleischer; d begun by Huston)


Fat City (+ co-pr); The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (+ ro as Grizzly Adams)


The Mackintosh Man


The Man Who Would Be King (+ co-sc)


Independence (short)


Wise Blood (+ ro as Grandfather, billed as "Jhon" Huston)




Victory ( Escape to Victory )




Under the Volcano


Prizzi's Honor


The Dead

Other Films:


A House Divided (William Wyler) (dialogue, sc); Law and Order (co-sc)


Murders in the Rue Morgue (Florey) (dialogue, sc)


It Happened in Paris (Robert Wyler and Carol Reed) (co-adapt, sc); Death Drives Through (Cahn) (co-sc)


Jezebel (William Wyler) (co-sc); The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (Litvak) (co-sc)


Juarez (Dieterle) (co-sc)


The Story of Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet ( Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet ) (Dieterle) (co-sc)


High Sierra (Walsh) (co-sc); Sergeant York (Hawks) (co-sc)


The Killers (Siodmak) (sc, uncredited); The Stranger (Welles) (co-sc, uncredited); Three Strangers (Negulesco) (co-sc)


Mr. North (Danny Huston) (co-sc, exec pr)


By HUSTON: books—

Frankie and Johnny , New York, 1968.

The Maltese Falcon , edited by Richard J. Anobile, New York, 1974.

High Sierra , edited by Douglas Gomery, Madison, Wisconsin, 1979.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre , edited by James Naremore, Madison, Wisconsin, 1979.

The Asphalt Jungle , with Ben Maddow, Carbondale, Illinois, 1980.

An Open Book , New York, 1980.

Juarez , with Aeneas Mackenzie and Wolfgang Reinhardt, edited by Paul J. Vanderwood, Madison, Wisconsin, 1983.

By HUSTON: articles—

Interview with Karel Reisz, in Sight and Sound (London), January/March 1952.

"How I Make Films," interview with Gideon Bachmann, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Fall 1965.

"Huston!," interview with C. Taylor and G. O'Brien, in Inter/View (New York), September 1972.

"Talk with John Huston," with D. Ford, in Action (Los Angeles), September/October 1972.

"The Innocent Bystander," interview with D. Robinson, in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1972/73.

"Talking with John Huston," with Gene Phillips, in Film Comment (New York), May/June 1973.

Interview with D. Brandes, in Filmmakers Newsletter (Ward Hill, Massachusetts), July 1977.

Interview with P. S. Greenberg, in Rolling Stone (New York), June/July 1981.

"Dialogue on Film: John Huston," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), January/February 1984.

"Interview with John Huston," interview with S. Hachem, in Millimeter (New York), July 1985.

"Filmsa: een gesprek met John Huston," interview with G. Cillario, in Skrien (Amsterdam), February/March 1986.

Interview with Michel Ciment and D. Allison, in Positif (Paris), October 1987.

Studlar, Gaylyn, and David Desser, editors, Reflections in a Male Eye: John Huston & the American Experience (includes interview with and short stories by Huston), Washington, D.C., 1993.

On HUSTON: books—

Davay, Paul, John Huston , Paris, 1957.

Allais, Jean-Claude, John Huston , Paris, 1960.

Nolan, William, John Huston, King Rebel , Los Angeles, 1965.

Benayoun, Robert, John Huston: La grande ombre da l'aventure , Paris, 1966; rev. ed., 1985.

Cecchini, Riccardo, John Huston , 1969.

Tozzi, Romano, John Huston, a Picture Treasure of His Films , New York, 1971.

Pratley, Gerald, The Cinema of John Huston , South Brunswick, New Jersey, 1977.

Kaminsky, Stuart, John Huston: Maker of Magic , Boston, 1978.

Madsen, Axel, John Huston , Garden City, New York, 1978.

Giannetti, Louis D., Masters of the American Cinema , Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1981.

Hammen, Scott, John Huston , New York, 1985.

Ciment, Gilles, editor, John Huston , Paris, 1987.

McCarty, John, The Films of John Huston , Secaucus, New Jersey, 1987.

Grobel, Lawrence, The Hustons , New York, 1989.

Hart, Clive, Joyce, Huston & the Making of The Dead, London, 1989.

The Making of The African Queen: Or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind , London 1987.

Viertel, Peter, Guys and Pals, Dangerous Friends: At Large with Huston and Hemingway in the Fifties , New York 1992.

Studlar, Gaylyn, editor, Reflections in a Male Eye: John Huston & the American Experience , Washington, D.C., 1993.

Cooper, Stephen, Perspectives on John Huston , New York, 1994.

Brill, Lesley, John Huston's Filmmaking , New York, 1997.

Cohen, Allen, John Huston: A Guide to References & Resources , New York, 1997.

On HUSTON: articles—

"Huston" issues of Positif (Paris), August 1952 and January 1957.

Mage, David, "The Way John Huston Works," in Films in Review (New York), October 1952.

Laurot, Edouard, "An Encounter with John Huston," in Film Culture (New York), no. 8, 1956.

Archer, Eugene, "John Huston—The Hemingway Tradition in American Film," in Film Culture (New York), no. 19, 1959.

"John Huston, the Bible, and James Bond," in Cahiers du Cinema in English (New York), no. 5, 1966.

Konigsberger, Hans, "From Book to Film—via John Huston," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Spring 1969.

"Huston" issue of Film Comment (New York), May/June 1973.

Bachmann, Gideon, "Watching Huston," in Film Comment (New York), January/February 1976.

Jameson, R. T., "John Huston," in Film Comment (New York), May/June 1980.

Drew, B., "John Huston: At 74 No Formulas," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), September 1980.

Current Biography 1981 , New York, 1981.

Millar, G., "John Huston," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1981.

"John Huston," in Film Dope (London), January 1983.

Hachem, S., " Under the Volcano ," in American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), October 1984.

Marill, Alvin H., "The Films of John Huston," in Films in Review (New York), April 1985.

Canby, Vincent, "John Huston: A master at His Art," in New York Times , 23 June 1985.

Combs, Richard, "The Man Who Would Be Ahab: The Myths and Masks of John Huston," in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), December 1985.

"Huston" issue of Positif (Paris), January 1986.

Taylor, John Russell, "John Huston: The Filmmaker as Dandy," in Films and Filming (London), August 1986.

Negulesco, Jean, "John Huston: l'artiste que a du punch," in Positif (Paris), October 1986.

Obituary in New York Times , 29 August 1987.

Huston, Tony, "Family Ties," in American Film (New York), September 1987.

McCarthy, Todd, obituary in Variety (New York), 2 September 1987.

Ansen, David, "A Hollywood Iconoclast: A World-Class Director," in Newsweek (New York), 7 September 1987.

Schickel, Richard, "Wicked Gleams of the Good Life," in Time (New York), 7 September 1987.

Schulz-Keil, Weiland, and B. Walker, "Huston," in Film Comment (New York), September/October 1987.

Buckley, Michael, obituary in Films in Review (New York), November 1987.

Combs, Richard, "John Huston: An Account of One Man Dead," in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), December 1987.

Immergut, S., filmography and obituary in Premiere (New York), December 1987.

Schickel, Richard, "Huston's Serene Farewell," in Time (New York), 4 January 1988.

Carpenter, Gerald, "John Huston," in Video Review (New York), September 1988.

Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), vol. 17, nos. 2 and 4, 1989.

American Film (Washington, D.C.), June 1989.

Grobel, Lawrence, "John Huston: Mercurial Director of The Maltese Falcon and The Dead at St. Clerans ," in Architectural Digest (Los Angeles), April 1992.

Rubin, Mann, "Sundays with John Huston," in Creative Screenwriting (Washington, D.C.), Winter 1994.

Brill, Lesley, " The African Queen and John Huston's Filmmaking," in Cinema Journal (Austin), Winter 1995.

Shoilevska, Sanya, "Alex North's Score for The Misfits ," in Cue Sheet (Hollywood), April 1996.

Seebohm, C. "Restless Blueblood," in Vanity Fair (New York), September 1997.

On HUSTON: films—

On Location: "The Night of the Iguana," television documentary, directed by William Kronick, 1964.

The Life and Times of John Huston, Esquire , directed by Roger Graef, 1967.

Ride This Way Grey Horse , directed by Paul Joyce, 1970.

The Directors Guild Series: John Huston , documentary directed by Crain, 1982.

Observations under the Volcano , documentary directed by Christian Blackwood, 1984.

Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick , television documentary, 1989.

The Making of The Dead, directed by Danny Huston, 1989.

* * *

Directors from John Cassavetes to Quentin Tarantino, Vittorio De Sica to Rainer Werner Fassbinder, have regularly worked in front of the camera. Even casual movie fans know that Alfred Hitchcock made celebrated cameo appearances in his films, and Orson Welles not only directed but starred in Citizen Kane .

But one of the most prolific of all actor-directors is John Huston. Certainly, performing was in Huston's genes. His father was the fine actor Walter Huston; his daughter is the equally fine actress Anjelica Huston. In fact, he is the only filmmaker ever to direct a father (for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre ) and a daughter (for Prizzi's Honor ) to Academy Awards.

Huston himself was graced with a deep, full, instantly recognizable voice. On occasion he narrated films; he is very much a faceless presence in his three World War II-era documentaries ( Report from the Aleutians , The Battle of San Pietro , and Let There Be Light ), which he directed while a member of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. His voice adds a certain stature to each film, as he describes the war's various military campaigns over some sobering, graphically realistic footage or illustrates the plight of deeply troubled returning veterans.

But Huston also had a photogenic face and a commanding screen presence, and he could work magic with a solid, juicy role. Had he not been such an outstanding director, he could have carved out a stellar career as a character actor, perhaps one to rival his illustrious father. He gave notable performances in Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (as the brusque but benevolent Boston Cardinal); William Richert's Winter Kills (as a patriarch whose son, a U.S. president, had been assassinated years earlier); and most especially Roman Polanski's Chinatown (as the insidiously evil powerbroker Noah Cross). He effectively directed himself in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (as a properly grizzled Grizzly Adams) and Wise Blood (as a fire-and-brimstone preacher). While at his very best playing corrupted, hell-bent authority figures, Huston also could play farce, as he did in Marshall Brickman's romantic comedy Lovesick , cast as Dudley Moore's psychiatrist (who is predisposed to dropping off into slumberland during their sessions).

Nevertheless, Huston—like Orson Welles—far too often chose to slum on screen, accepting throwaway roles in schlocky films far beneath his stature. His filmography is littered with undistinguished parts in one-too-many potboilers, along with trashy Hollywood fare (most specifically, Christian Marquand's Candy , Cy Endfield's De Sade , and Mike Sarne's Myra Breckenridge ). By accepting such work, Huston simply traded in on his name. He phoned in his performance in the minimum amount of time, and with the minimum effort. His reward: a paycheck, no more, no less. Had he been so inclined, Huston might have left us with just as many memorable film roles as films he directed.

—Rob Edelman

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