Henry Walthall

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Walthall, c. 1911

Henry Brazeale Walthall (born March 16, 1878 at Mallory Station in Shelby County; died June 17, 1936 in Monrovia, California) was a silent film actor, appearing in dozens of films between 1909 and 1936.

Early life

Walthall was born on a plantation, the second of eight children born to Junius Leigh Walthall and Anne Mallory Wallace Walthall. His middle name, Brazeale, came from his grandmother Eliza's Irish maiden name. Although his parents hoped he would become a scientific farmer or lawyer, Walthall discovered his talent for entertaining while still a child. He also became an excellent horseman, which would prove important in his career.

In 1898, at the beginning of the Spanish-American War, Walthall enlisted in the United States Army's First Alabama Regiment. He served eleven months, but a bout of malarial fever while in camp at Jacksonville, Florida kept him out of combat. After his discharge, he studied law at Howard College, mainly to please his parents. He disliked it, however, and dropped out after six months. In 1900, he left for New York City to become an actor.

Career

Walthall began his career as a stage actor, appearing on Broadway in a supporting role in William Vaughn Moody's The Great Divide in 19061908. His career in movies began in 1908, in the film Rescued from an Eagle's Nest, which also featured another young actor named D. W. Griffith. As the industry grew in size and popularity, Griffith emerged as a director and Walthall found himself a mainstay of the Griffith company, frequently working alongside such Griffith regulars as Owen Moore, Kate Bruce, and Jack and Mary Pickford. He followed Griffith's departure from New York's Biograph to California's Reliance-Majestic Studios in 1913.

Given the relatively short length of films in the early years, Walthall frequently found himself cast in dozens of films each year. For those still unfamiliar with his face however, he gained national attention in 1915 for his role as Colonel Ben Cameron in Griffith's highly influential and controversial epic The Birth of a Nation. Walthall's portrayal of a Confederate veteran rounding up the Ku Klux Klan won him large-scale fame, and Walthall was soon able to emerge as a leading actor in the years leading up to the 1920s, parting ways with Griffith.

He continued through the 1920s, appearing in The Plastic Age with Gilbert Roland and Clara Bow and a 1926 adaptation of The Scarlet Letter opposite Lillian Gish. Now in his 40s, he found his roles increasingly more of the "character" variety. Having experience as a stage actor, Walthall continued his career into the 1930s until his death.

He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard.

Personal life

Walthall was married twice. His first marriage, to actress Isabel Fenton, ended in divorce after ten years in 1917. The two had no children. His second marriage, to actress Mary Charleson, lasted from the following year until his death from influenza in 1936. Henry and Mary had one child, a daughter named Patricia, in 1918.

Selected filmography

  • The Hessian Renegades - 1909
  • Fools of Fate - 1909
  • In Little Italy - 1909
  • The Day After - 1909
  • Choosing a Husband - 1909
  • The Two Brothers - 1910
  • The Kid - 1910
  • Ramona - 1910
  • In the Border States - 1910
  • The House with Closed Shutters - 1910
  • The Inner Circle - 1912
  • A Change of Spirit - 1912
  • Two Daughters of Eve - 1912
  • So Near, Yet So Far - 1912
  • A Feud in the Kentucky Hills - 1912
  • In the Aisles of the Wild - 1912
  • The One She Loved - 1912
  • The Painted Lady - 1912
  • My Baby - 1912
  • The Informer - 1912
  • Brutality - 1912
  • My Hero - 1912
  • The Burglar's Dilemma - 1912
  • The God Within - 1912
  • Three Friends - 1913
  • Love in an Apartment Hotel - 1913
  • Broken Ways - 1913
  • The Unwelcome Guest - 1913
  • The Sheriff's Baby - 1913
  • If We Only Knew - 1913
  • The Lady and the Mouse - 1913
  • The Wanderer - 1913
  • The House of Darkness - 1913
  • The Tenderfoot's Money - 1913
  • The Stolen Loaf - 1913
  • Red Hicks Defies the World - 1913
  • The Switch Tower - 1913
  • The Mothering Heart - 1913
  • The Mistake - 1913
  • A Gambler's Honor - 1913
  • During the Round-Up - 1913
  • The Mirror - 1913
  • The Vengeance of Galora - 1913
  • Two Men of the Desert - 1913
  • A Woman in the Ultimate - 1913
  • The Battle at Elderbush Gulch - 1913
  • The Green-Eyed Devil - 1914
  • Judith of Bethulia - 1914
  • Home, Sweet Home - 1914
  • Lord Chumley - 1914
  • Man's Enemy - 1914
  • The Avenging Conscience - 1914
  • The Birth of a Nation - 1915
  • The Strange Case of Mary Page - 1916
  • The Great Love - 1918
  • The False Faces - 1919
  • The Kickback - 1922
  • The Face on the Bar-Room Floor - 1923
  • The Golden Bed - 1925
  • Kentucky Pride - 1925
  • Dollar Down - 1925
  • The Road to Mandalay - 1926
  • The Scarlet Letter - 1926
  • Wings - 1927
  • London After Midnight - 1927
  • Speakeasy - 1929
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey - 1929
  • The Trespasser - 1929
  • Police Court - 1932
  • The Cabin in the Cotton - 1932
  • Ride Him, Cowboy - 1932
  • 42nd Street - 1933
  • Judge Priest - 1934
  • A Tale of Two Cities - 1935
  • The Devil-Doll - 1936

References

External links