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John Marcellus Huston ( ; August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) was an Americanmarker filmmaker, screenwriter and actor. He was known for directing the films 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), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), and Annie (1982). He was the son of actor Walter Huston and the father of actress Anjelica Huston and actor Danny Huston.


Huston was born in Nevada, Missourimarker, a son of Canadianmarker-born actor, Walter Huston 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.


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 Italianmarker 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 and incestuous father.John Huston received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1983.

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.

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.

Personal life

Huston, an atheist, was married five times to:

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 Yorkmarker 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 Barbadosmarker 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, 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.

All marriages ended in divorce except his fourth, to Soma, who died. In addition to his children with Soma, he was also the father of the director Danny Huston (with the author Zoe Sallis).

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 Irelandmarker in 1951 and stayed at Luggalamarker, County Wicklowmarker, 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 Craughwellmarker, County Galwaymarker. He became an Irish citizen in 1964 and his daughter Anjelica attended school in Ireland at Kylemore Abbeymarker for a number of years. A film school is now dedicated to him on the NUIGmarker 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 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 died from emphysema on August 28, 1987 in Middletownmarker, Rhode Islandmarker. 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.

Huston is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemeterymarker in Hollywood, Californiamarker.


As director

Year Film Academy Award Nominations Academy Award Wins
1941 The Maltese Falcon 3
1942 In This Our Life
Across the Pacific
1943 Report from the Aleutians 1
1945 The Battle of San Pietro
1946 Let There Be Light
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre 4 3
Key Largo 1 1
1949 We Were Strangers
1950 The Asphalt Jungle 4
1951 The Red Badge of Courage
The African Queen 4 1
1953 Moulin Rouge 7 2
Beat the Devil
1956 Moby Dick
1957 Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison 2
1958 The Barbarian and the Geisha
The Roots of Heaven
1960 The Unforgiven
The Misfits
1962 Freud the Secret Passion 2
1963 The List of Adrian Messenger
1964 The Night of the Iguana 4 1
1966 The Bible: In The Beginning 1
1967 Reflections in a Golden Eye
Casino Royale 1
1969 Sinful Davey
A Walk with Love and Death
1970 The Kremlin Letter
1972 Fat City 1
The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean 1
1973 The Mackintosh Man
1975 The Man Who Would Be King 4
1979 Wise Blood
1980 Phobia
1981 Escape to Victory
1982 Annie 2
1984 Under the Volcano 2
1985 Prizzi's Honor 8 1
1987 The Dead 2

As screenwriter

As actor

Does not include films which he also directed


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