Walthall ImageHenry B. Walthall is generally recognized as one of the finest screen actors of his generation. In an era known for overtheatrical gestures and emotion, Walthall's performances often offer a pleasant surprise for modern viewers. His performances are (as often as not) marked by a natural, restrained acting style.

Walthall began his film career as a member of D.W. Griffith's Biograph stock company, and that year he starred in one of Griffith's classic short social dramas, "A Corner in Wheat." For the next six years, Walthall acted in a large portion of Griffith's short films, and when the director began expanding the running times of his films, it was Walthall who was often playing the leading male roles. Walthall starred as Holofernes in Griffith's 4-reel adaptation of "Judith of Betthulia," as the guilt-ridden protagonist in the 6-reel "Avenging Conscience," and as the 'Little Colonel' in the epic "Birth of a Nation."

Following "Birth of a Nation" Walthall left Griffith's company. He continued to play leading roles, mostly in minor films. He also played a variety of supporting roles, often in films directed by fellow Griffith-vetran, Tod Browning. Walthall's subtle acting style and marvelous voice made him a natural choice for supporting roles as the sound era began, and he continued to work in a variety of genres, al the way up to his death at age 58 during production of "China Clipper."

Among Walthall's notable film credits are "The House with Closed Shutters," "Judith of Bethulia," The Avenging Conscience," "Birth of a Nation," "The Raven," "London After Midnight," "Viva Villa," "Forty-Second Street," and "The Devil-Doll."

Born Henry Brazeale Walthall, Mar. 16, 1878, Shelby City, Alabama. Died June 17, 1936, while filming "China Clipper."

Henry Walthall Filmography.

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Copyright 1996 E.H. Larson.