John Huston

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John Huston

Birth name John Marcellus Huston
Born August 5, 1906(1906-08-05)
Nevada, Missouri, USA
Died August 28, 1987 (aged 81)
Middletown, Rhode Island, USA
Spouse(s) Dorothy Harvey (1925-1926)
Lesley Black (1937-1945)
Evelyn Keyes (1946-1950)
Ricki Soma (1950-1969)
Celeste Shane (1972-1977)

John Marcellus Huston (August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) was an American film director and actor. He was known for directing several classic films, The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Key Largo, and The African Queen.


  • 1 Biography
    • 1.1 Early life
    • 1.2 Career
    • 1.3 Academy Awards
    • 1.4 Personal life
  • 2 Filmography
    • 2.1 As director
    • 2.2 As screenwriter
    • 2.3 As actor
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


Early life

Huston was born in Nevada, Missouri, the son of the Canadian-born actor, Walter Huston, and Rhea Gore, a sports reporter; he was of Scottish and Irish descent on his father's side. Huston was raised by his maternal grandparents, Adelia Richardson and John Marcellus Gore.


Huston began his film career as a screenwriter and made films mainly adapted from books or plays. The six-foot-two-inch, brown-eyed director also acted in a number of films, with distinction in Otto Preminger's The Cardinal for which he was nominated for the Academy award for Best Supporting Actor and in Roman Polanski's Chinatown as the film's central heavy against Jack Nicholson.

Huston's films were insightful about human nature and human predicaments. They also sometimes included scenes or brief dialogue passages that were remarkably prescient concerning environmental issues that came to public awareness in the future, in the period starting about 1970; examples include The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and The Night of the Iguana (1964). Huston also directed The Misfits (1960) with an all-star cast including Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and Eli Wallach. Famously, Huston spent long evenings carousing in the Nevada casinos after filming, surrounded by reporters and beautiful women, gambling, drinking, and smoking cigars. Gable remarked during this time that 'if he kept it up he would soon die of it'. Ironically, and tragically, Gable died three weeks after the end of filming from a massive heart attack while Huston went on to live for twenty-six more years.

After filming the documentary Let There Be Light on the psychiatric treatment of soldiers for shellshock, Huston resolved to make a film about Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis. The film, Freud the Secret Passion, began as a collaboration between Huston and Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre dropped out of the film and requested his name be removed from the credits. Huston went on to make the film starring Montgomery Clift as Freud.

In the 1970s, he was a frequent actor in Italian films, but continued acting until the age of 80 (Momo, 1986), one year before he passed away.

Huston is also famous to a generation of fans of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth stories as the voice of the wizard Gandalf in the Rankin/Bass animated adaptations of The Hobbit (1977) and The Return of the King (1980).

Academy Awards

In 1941, Huston was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Maltese Falcon. He was nominated again and won in 1948 for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, for which he also received the Best Director award.

Huston received 15 Oscar nominations in the course of his career. In fact, he is the oldest person ever to be nominated for the Best Director Oscar when, at 79 years old, he was nominated for Prizzi's Honor (1985). He also has the unique distinction of directing both his father Walter and his daughter Anjelica in Oscar-winning performances (in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Prizzi's Honor, respectively), making the Hustons the first family to have three generations of Academy Award winners.

Personal life

Huston, an Episcopalian,[1] was married five times, to:

  • Dorothy Harvey
  • Lesley Black

It was during his marriage to Black that he embarked on an affair with married New York socialite Marietta FitzGerald. While her lawyer husband was helping the war effort, the pair were once rumoured to have made love so vigourously, they broke a friends bed.[2] When her husband returned before the end of the Second World War, Huston returned to Hollywood to await Marietta's divorce. However, on a trip to Barbados she fell in love with billionaire bisexual British MP Ronald Tree, and decided to marry him instead

Huston was heart broken, and after an affair with the fashion designer and writer Pauline Fairfax Potter, married:

  • Evelyn Keyes - during which his affair with Fairfax Potter continued
  • Enrica Soma - daughter Anjelica Huston, son attorney Walter Antony "Tony" Huston
  • Celeste Shane.

All but the marriage to Soma, who died, ended in divorce. Among his children are the director Danny Huston (by Zoe Sallis) and the actress Anjelica Huston (by Enrica Soma) and attorney Walter Antony "Tony" Huston (also by Enrica Soma).

Among his friends were Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway.

Huston visited Ireland in 1951 and stayed at Luggala, County Wicklow, the home of Garech Browne, a member of the Guinness family. He visited Ireland several times afterwards and on one of these visits he purchased and restored a Georgian home, St Clerans, between Loughrea and Craughwell, County Galway. He became an Irish citizen and his daughter Anjelica attended school in Ireland at Kylemore Abbey for a number of years. A film school is now dedicated to him on the NUIG campus. Huston is also the inspiration for the 1990 film White Hunter Black Heart starring Clint Eastwood, who also directed.

Huston was an accomplished painter who created the 1982 label for Château Mouton Rothschild.

He died from emphysema on August 28, 1987 in Middletown, Rhode Island, at the age of 81. A few weeks before, Marietta visited him and his electrocardiogram "started jumping with excitement as soon as she entered the room." She was, his friends maintained, the only woman he ever really loved.[3]

Huston is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.


Statue of John Huston, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Statue of John Huston, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

As director

  • The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  • In This Our Life (1942)
  • Across the Pacific (1942)
  • Report from the Aleutians (1943)
  • The Battle of San Pietro (1945)
  • Let There Be Light (1946)
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  • Key Largo (1948)
  • We Were Strangers (1949)
  • The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
  • The Red Badge of Courage (1951)
  • The African Queen (1951)
  • Moulin Rouge (1953)
  • Beat the Devil (1953)
  • Moby Dick (1956)
  • Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957)
  • The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)
  • The Roots of Heaven (1958)
  • The Unforgiven (1960)
  • The Misfits (1960)
  • Freud the Secret Passion (1962)
  • The List of Adrian Messenger (1963)
  • The Night of the Iguana (1964)
  • The Bible: In The Beginning (1966)
  • Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
  • Casino Royale (1967)
  • Sinful Davey (1969)
  • A Walk with Love and Death (1969)
  • The Kremlin Letter (1970)
  • Fat City (1972)
  • The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972)
  • The Mackintosh Man (1973)
  • The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
  • Wise Blood (1979)
  • Phobia (1980)
  • Escape to Victory (1981)
  • Annie (1982)
  • Under the Volcano (1984)
  • Prizzi's Honor (1985)
  • The Dead (1987)

As screenwriter

  • Three Strangers (1946)

As actor

Does not include films which he also directed

  • The Cardinal (1963, dir: Otto Preminger)
  • Candy (1968, director: Christian Marquand)
  • Rocky Road to Dublin (Documentary) (as Interviewee, 1968, director: Peter Lennon)
  • De Sade (1969, dir: Cy Endfield)
  • Myra Breckinridge (1970, dir: Michael Sarne)
  • Man in the Wilderness (1971, dir: Richard C. Sarafian)
  • The Bridge in the Jungle (1971)
  • Rufino Tamayo: The Sources of his Art (documentary) (1972, dir: Gary Conklin)
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973, dir: J. Lee Thompson)
  • Chinatown (1974, dir: Roman Polanski)
  • Breakout (1975)
  • The Wind and the Lion (1975, dir: John Milius)
  • Tentacles (1977, dir: Ovidio G. Assonitis)
  • The Greatest Battle (1978, dir: Umberto Lenzi)
  • The Bermuda Triangle (1978, dir: René Cardona, Jr.)
  • Angela (1978, dir: Boris Sagal)
  • The Visitor (1979, dir: Giulio Paradisi)*Winters Kill (1979,dir:((Willam Richert))
  • A Minor Miracle (1983, dir: Raoul Lomas)
  • Notes from Under the Volcano (documentary) (as himself, 1984, dir: Gary Conklin)
  • Lovesick (1984, dir: Marshall Brickman)
  • Momo (1986, dir: Johannes Schaaf)
  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  • John Huston at the Internet Movie Database
  • John Huston's Gravesite
  • Preceded by
    Elia Kazan
    for Gentleman's Agreement
    Academy Award for Best Director
    for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
    Succeeded by
    Joseph L. Mankiewicz
    for A Letter to Three Wives
    Preceded by
    Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, and Rock Hudson
    45th Academy Awards
    Oscars host
    46th Academy Awards (with David Niven, Burt Reynolds, and Diana Ross)
    Succeeded by
    Sammy Davis, Jr., Bob Hope, Shirley MacLaine, and Frank Sinatra
    47th Academy Awards
    NAME Huston, John
    ALTERNATIVE NAMES Huston, John Marcellus
    SHORT DESCRIPTION American film director and actor
    DATE OF BIRTH August 5, 1906
    PLACE OF BIRTH Nevada, Missouri, USA
    DATE OF DEATH August 28, 1987
    PLACE OF DEATH Middletown, Rhode Island, USA
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