John Marcellus Huston (pronounced /ˈdʒɒn mɑrˈsɛləs ˈhjuːstən/; August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) was an American filmmaker, screenwriter and actor. He directed a wide range of classics during the twentieth century, including The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The African Queen (1951), Moulin Rouge (1952) The Misfits (1960), and The Man Who Would Be King (1975).
Huston was born in Nevada, Missouri, the son of Canadian-born actor, Walter Huston (above with John) and his wife Rhea Gore, a sports reporter. Huston was of Scots-Irish descent on his father's side and English and Welsh on his mother's. He was raised by his maternal grandparents, John Marcellus and Adelia (Richardson) Gore. At the age of ten, Huston suffered a serious illness which left him nearly bedridden for several years. This spurred him to pursue a full life, both intellectually and physically.
John Huston began his film career as a screenwriter on films such as Juarez (1939), Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940) and High Sierra (1941).
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). The Misfits (1960) was written by Arthur Miller and featured an all-star cast including Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and Eli Wallach, and was the last screen appearance of screen icons Gable and Monroe. It is well-known that 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."
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 frequently an actor in Italian films, and continued acting until the age of 80 (Momo, 1986).
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).
Many of his films were edited by Russell Lloyd, who was nominated for an Oscar for editing The Man Who Would Be King (1975).
The six-foot-two-inch, brown-eyed director also acted in a number of films, with distinction in Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (1963) for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and in Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974) as the film's central corrupt businessman. John Huston received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1983.
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.
In addition, he also directed 13 other actors in Oscar-nominated performances: Sydney Greenstreet, Claire Trevor, Sam Jaffe, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, José Ferrer, Colette Marchand, Deborah Kerr, Grayson Hall, Susan Tyrrell, Albert Finney, Jack Nicholson and William Hickey.
Huston was an agnostic,
The wives of John Huston:
1. Dorothy Harvey - This marriage lasted 7 years and ended in 1933.
2. 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 vigorously, they broke a friend's bed. When her husband returned before the end of the Second World War, Huston went back to Hollywood to await Marietta's divorce. However, on a trip to Barbados she fell in love with billionaire British MP Ronald Tree, and decided to marry him instead. Huston was heartbroken, and after an affair with the fashion designer and writer Pauline Fairfax Potter, married again.
3. Evelyn Keyes - The Hustons adopted a son Pablo (from Mexico); (his affair with Fairfax Potter continued during the marriage).
4. Enrica Soma - They had two children: a daughter, Anjelica Huston (below), and a son, Walter Antony "Tony" Huston, now an attorney. Soma also had a daughter, Allegra Huston, as the result of an extramarital affair with John Julius Norwich; Huston treated the girl as one of his own children following Soma's death four years later.
5. Celeste Shane. In his autobiography, An Open Book, Huston refers to her as a "crocodile", and states only that if he had his life to do over, he wouldn't marry a fifth time.
All marriages ended in divorce except his fourth, to Soma. In addition to his children with Soma, he was with the author Zoe Sallis also the father of director Danny Huston.
Among his friends were Orson Welles and Ernest Hemingway. According to a documentary film about Huston's life (John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick), he struck and killed a female pedestrian with his car at the corner of Gardner and Sunset in Los Angeles when he was in his late 20s. He was exonerated of wrongdoing at the follow-up inquest.
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, of Craughwell, County Galway. He became an Irish citizen in 1964 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. In addition, the character of monomanical film director Eli Cross in Richard Rush's The Stunt Man is alleged to be based on Huston.
Huston was an accomplished painter who wrote in his autobiography, "Nothing has played a more important role in my life." As a young man he studied at the Smith School of Art in Los Angeles but dropped out within a few months. He later studied at the Art Students League of New York. He painted throughout his life and was particularly interested in Cubism and the American school of Synchromism. He had studios in each of his homes and owned a wide collection of art including a notable collection of Pre-Columbian art In 1982 he created the label for Château Mouton Rothschild.
A heavy smoker, he suffered from emphysema in his final days. Just before his death, Huston had travelled to Newport, Rhode Island to film a small role in his son Danny's directorial debut, Mr. North (which he also co-wrote). In July of 1987 he was rushed to Charlton Memorial Hospital in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts due to complications from his emphysema. He died shortly thereafter, on August 28, 1987 in Middletown, Rhode Island. Huston's old friend Robert Mitchum replaced him in the role. A few weeks before he died, 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.
Huston is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
1941 The Maltese Falcon
1942 In This Our Life
Across the Pacific
1943 Report from the Aleutians
1945 The Battle of San Pietro
1946 Let There Be Light
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1949 We Were Strangers
1950 The Asphalt Jungle
1951 The Red Badge of Courage
The African Queen
1953 Moulin Rouge
Beat the Devil
1956 Moby Dick
1957 Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
1958 The Barbarian and the Geisha
The Roots of Heaven
1960 The Unforgiven
1962 Freud the Secret Passion
1963 The List of Adrian Messenger
1964 The Night of the Iguana
1966 The Bible: In The Beginning
1967 Reflections in a Golden Eye
1969 Sinful Davey
A Walk with Love and Death
1970 The Kremlin Letter
1972 Fat City
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
1973 The Mackintosh Man
1975 The Man Who Would Be King
1979 Wise Blood
1981 Escape to Victory
1984 Under the Volcano
1985 Prizzi's Honor
1987 The Dead
The Storm 1930 - Dir: William Wyler (written with Charles Logue, Langdon McCormick, Tom Reed & Wells Root)
A House Divided 1931 - Dir: William Wyler (written with John B. Clymer, Olive Edens and Dale Every)
Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932 - Dir: Robert Florey (written with Tom Reed & Dale Van Every)
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse 1938 - Dir: Anatole Litvak (written with John Wexley)
Jezebel 1938 - Dir: William Wyler (written with Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel, & Robert Buckner)
High Sierra 1941 - Dir: Raoul Walsh (written with W.R. Burnett)
The Maltese Falcon 1941 - Dir: Huston
Sergeant York 1941 - Dir: Howard Hawks (written with Abem Finkel, Harry Chandler, & Howard Koch)
The Killers 1946 - Dir: Robert Siodmak (written with Anthony Veiller)
Three Strangers 1946 - Dir: Jean Negulesco (written with Howard Koch)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 1948 - Dir: Huston
Key Largo 1948 - Dir: Huston (written with Richard Brooks)
We Were Strangers 1949 - Dir: Huston (written with Peter Viertel)
The African Queen 1951 - Dir: Huston (written with James Agee)
Moulin Rouge 1952 - Dir: Huston (written with Anthony Veiller)
Beat the Devil 1953 - Dir: Huston (written with Truman Capote)
Moby Dick 1956 - Dir: Huston (written with Ray Bradbury)
Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison 1957 - Dir: Huston (written with John Lee Mahin)
The Night of the Iguana 1964 - Dir: Huston (written with Anthony Veiller)
The Man Who Would Be King 1975 - Dir: Huston (written with Gladys Hill)
Mr. North 1988 - Dir: Danny Huston (written with Janet Roach & James Costigan)
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)
The Deserter (1971, dir: Burt Kennedy)
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)
The Wind and the Lion (1975, dir: John Milius)
Tentacles (1977, dir: Ovidio G. Assonitis)
The Hobbit (1977, dir: Arthur Rankin, Jr., Jules Bass)
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)
Winter Kills (1979, dir: William 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)
The Black Cauldron (1985) Narrator
Momo (1986, dir: Johannes Schaaf)
2.^ The religion of director John Huston
3.^ Running Around in High Circles
4.^ [Art by Directors, Karl French, Granta 86, 2004, ISBN 0 90 314169 8