Home, Sweet Home
Sweet Home Alabama
The D.W. Griffith Years
Escaping "Poverty Row"
Obits & Secondary Sources
The Silents 1909-1910
The Silents 1911-1915
The Silents 1916-1927
The Talkies 1929-1932
The Talkies 1933-1934
The Talkies 1935-1936
Walthall Hollywood Sites ***NEW***
Now entering the library of Henry B. Walthall.
Try not to trip over the rugs.
Motion Picture Magazine, April 1914, pp. 114-15. Walthall is featured in "Chats With The Players," which doesn't offer a whole lot of "chatting." The article describes Walthall's hectic, around-the-clock schedule and his work in the film Gangsters of New York.
Willis, Richard, "David W. Griffith--Genius," Movie Pictorial, September 12, 1914. I found this article on the Internet. Willis mentions that Walthall was ill during the filming of The Clansman (this article was written before the release of Birth of a Nation ) and states that Walthall had to be operated upon. No specifics on the illness.
Motion Picture Magazine, December 1914. Walthall is included in the Gallery of Picture Players (pg. 13) with a short bio on page 120 that has another nice pic.
Photoplay Magazine, July 1915. Walthall is among the gallery photos on page 15 and there is also a unique shot of him in his library on page 70 [see above photo].
Ames, Hector, "Walthall and the Man Who Failed," Motion Picture Magazine, April 1915, pp. 138-40. Henry explains how "a man can never be anything but what he is fated to be, tho [sic] he spend his life being something else." Henry, of course, is fated to be an actor, though he fails at first and even works as a super in a theatrical company. He eventually finds his niche on the big screen (a vehicle by which to display one's acting talents seen as less dignified at the time). Has a common full-page photo.
The Ladies' World, September 1915, pg. 34. 4 1/2" x 7 1/4" ad announcing that Essanay now has the "greatest actor in photo-play" (who could that be?). Includes nice photo.
Motion Picture Classic, February 1916. No Walthall article in this issue but it does offer four photos. The first and best one is a large photo on page 35 that is part of the article "The Character Man of the Movies." Walthall looks to be in a drunken stupor in a scene from The Outer Edge. The second photo (very dark in my copy) is Walthall on horseback with Lillian Gish in The Mountain Rat in an article on the equestrian skills of several actresses (pg. 43). Another nice large photo is on page 48 showing Walthall as Edgar Allan Poe in The Raven reaching out over a lake as he sits next to Warda Howard. It shows their reflection in the lake. Finally, on page 46 is a smaller version of The Birth of a Nation photo that would also be used in the 1921 article "He Isn't The Little Colonel Anymore" (see below) and is used as the top of "The D.W. Griffith Years" page of this website with the caption "The Confederacy's Finest." What is the most interesting about this page is a paragraph describing how he and Mrs. Walthall took a former actor who had become a "hopeless dope-fiend" into their home until he was "cured." The "Mrs." was obviously the first Mrs. Walthall about whom I have read nothing. I had assumed they were separated by the time he went into films. The paragraph does not indicate when this act of kindness took place, however.
Grau, Robert, "The Twenty Greatest In Filmdom," Motion Picture Magazine, May 1916, pp. 109-11, 181. Walthall is #19 with the comment "of whom Shakespeare would have said, 'This is a picture actor.'" The issue also includes a Screen Masterpieces contest where readers voted for their favorite performances. Walthall came in second (by 160 votes) for his role in Birth of a Nation. He is also listed 4 more times: #7 for Avenging Conscience, #18 for Ghosts, #57 for The Raven, and #83 for Temper (pp. 179-80).
Willis, Richard, "The Edwin Booth of the Screen," Motion Picture Classic, June 1916, pp. 55-56. Gushing article with nothing but praise for Walthall as a humble, "sympathetic and emotional character." Has five pics, four from Avenging Conscience which, in Willis's opinion, showcased "Wally"'s finest performance. The first pic is an enlarged version of the photo used in the short bio in the Dec. 1914 Motion Picture Magazine above (a nice one, by the way). Due to the attention given to Avenging Conscience with no mention of Birth of a Nation, I suspect the article may have been written in 1914, but I am not certain.
Williamson, Edwin, "The Early Days of Henry B. Walthall," Picture-Play Magazine, August 1916, pp. 83-89. A "boyhood chum" recalls some neat little tidbits of Henry's youth including pics of his hometown haunts (there is one pic of him at age 4 that is rather humorous). Some of Henry's many talents include horseback riding, singing, and playing the mandolin.
Radnor, Leona, "The Sting of Victory," Moving Picture Stories, August 18, 1916, pp. 6-9. The film Sting of Victory, where Walthall plays two characters, David and Walker Whiting--brothers who serve on opposite sides of the American Civil War, is told in story form. It offers three nice photos of Walthall.
Remont, Fritzi, "What Their Handwriting Portrays," Motion Picture Magazine, March 1917, pp. 43-47. An analysis of Walthall's handwriting is on page 46. This issue also has a photo of Henry playing golf with E. H. Calvert at a Chicago Country Club on page 36.
Cohn, Alfred A., "The Reformation of 'Wally,'" Photoplay, December 1917, pp. 31-33. Describes how Walthall is moving away from the roles of drunkards and psychopaths in favor of more happy characters. Four wonderful photos accompany this article including a sweet full-page photo of Henry and future wife Mary Charleson going over a script together. A note on the cover of this magazine is just as interesting: by merely putting a 1 cent stamp on the notice, it would be "placed in the hands of our soldiers and sailors at the front."
Walraven, Hesser J., "A Man of Destiny," Moving Picture Stories, May 31, 1918, p. 26. A rather sycophantic article on how Walthall rose from the obscurity of the southern plantation to heed the call of the articulate drama. Walraven (great name for a reporter on Walthall!) does note that Walthall began his own independent film organization, Henry B. Walthall, Inc., under the direction of Paralta Plays. Has one nice picture.
McGaffey, Kenneth, "The New Walthall," Motion Picture, May 1919, pp.32-34, 101. Long Lane's Turning-era article that explains Mrs. Walthall's role in helping Henry find his niche in his acting career (taking over "business complications" and other unpleasantness). Mentions Walthall's dislike of ministers (because mother Walthall once sent a goose the young Henry shot to the local clergyman) and Henry's younger brother Junius who was in the hospital in France due to shrapnel wounds he suffered in the Great War (he survived and earned the purple heart). Includes five photos of Walthall including one with his wife.
Gaddis, Pearl, "He Isn't The Little Colonel Anymore," Motion Picture Magazine, September 1921, pp. 38-9, 88. A very nice article on how Walthall wants to move beyond the Little Col. image. Includes a few quotes from the man himself (always nice to read in these articles). Gaddis describes Walthall as having a keen sense of humor and a well-balanced, wholesome life with his wife (curiously, no mention of his daughter). No juicy rumors here (oh well). This article also includes 5 awesome pics!
Wright, J. C., "Answering the Call," Classic, November 1922, pp. 66, 81. Wright conducts an interview with Walthall and includes a few quotes. Walthall discusses his need to heed the call of the "footlights" (theatre) as well as his love of nature and fishing, "I well remember when a sixteen pound muskalonge nearly won...". Article includes two beautiful photos (see the biography page for one of them).
Motion Picture Magazine, "Gallery of Players," November, 1922, p. 19. Gorgeous full-page photo. Mentions Walthall will have the lead in Rupert Hughe's Gimme.
Screenland, "The Pathos of Henry B. Walthall," September 1924. I only have the last part of this extremely rare article. The part I have includes the end of a story where Henry told his director (probably D.W. Griffith) basically that he would come to work when he felt like it. This conversation took place after Walthall was admonished for arriving late. The rest of the article is the common description of how Walthall's career took a nosedive following The Birth of a Nation, his poor health, etc.
Griffith, D.W. Mrs., When the Movies Were Young, New York: Benjamin Blom, 1925. Includes a few first hand observations on 'Wally' in the Biograph company.
Donnell, Dorothy, "I Remember When," Motion Picture Classic, November 1925, pp. 40-1, 71. "Henry Walthall compares the old days with the films of 1925." Includes two nice, large photos and a common Birth of a Nation shot. In this interview, Walthall chain smokes and describes how the pictures were made in the "good ol' days," which, was actually a mere 10 to 16 years earlier. "We studied our parts before we tried to play them, we spent more time rehearsing than we did actually making the film. We had no music to help us portray emotion when I began to play in the movies--we had to really act [italics are the author's]...they would hold a stop-watch on us while we rehearsed it. Now they cover miles of celluloid doing the same scene." Walthall laments on how much emphasis actors place on money and makes an interesting comment: "the audiences have improved--it takes a better man to pay fifty cents to see a picture than to pay five." In the final line he says, "Oh yes'm, everything is better, everything--except just the pictures..." Another intriguing tidbit in this issue is the results to a readers' poll for the most popular picture on page 53. The Birth of a Nation, a ten-year old film at that time, rated #1, 20 points ahead of Monsieur Beaucaire (1924) which starred the iconic Latin lover Rudolph Valentino.
Pictures, July 1926, p. 4. Has small photo of Walthall in The Road to Mandalay with the note "Actors may come and actors may go but there will never be another figure on the screen with more drama than Henry B. Walthal l."
Benthall, Dwinelle, "Poverty Row," Motion Picture, December 1926, pp. 26-7, 113-14. Walthall is mentioned as a member of Hollywood's "poverty row" (former stars who have fallen in status) as one who is "climbing up again." Includes one small pic.
Wilson, B. F., "The Evolution of the Movie Hero," Motion Picture, December 1926, pp. 56-7. In the same magazine as the above article is a short gallery illustrating "Six Stages Which Depict the Changing Styles in the Gentlemen of the Celluloid." Walthall is the third stage: "D. W. Griffith was responsible for a change in style when he produced "The Birth of a Nation." For Henry B. Walthall as the Little Colonel proved that another type of man also had attraction." No explanation on what the author meant by "another type of man" ("little"?). The article includes a commonly used "Little Colonel" pic.
"Griffith To Greet H. B. Walthall," The Los Angeles Record, March 19, 1928, pg. 4. A column describes the upcoming premiere of the play Speakeasy at the Grand Avenue Playhouse scheduled for that night. D. W. Griffith would act as master of ceremonies to welcome Walthall in his first theatre performance in eight years. Many film people made reservations for the event including Pola Negri, Alan Hale, Lon Chaney, Corrine Griffith, Greta Garbo, Mary Philbin, Edmond Lowe, and Charles Chaplin. The "entire theatre" was decorated to honor Walthall "with the front of the house bedecked uniquely to give typical atmosphere." Mary Charleson Walthall, who also had a part in the play, is pictured.
Picture Show, May 19, 1928, pg. 9. This issue of a UK publication has a one-page mini bio of Walthall with a description of the upcoming film The Enchanted Island. This is the paragraph that caught my eye: "Mr. Walthall, who plays the part of the father, has had many narrow escapes in his career as a film star, but he will never forget the experience he had in making this one. He was so badly choked by Pat Hartigan that it was many hours later before he was revived sufficiently to continue his scene. Hartigan, who forgot his own strength, was more than sorry for his realism, and thereafter handled Walthall in a more gentle manner." Sexy photo accompanies the article (see above).
Hall, Gladys, "The Little Colonel Carries On," Motion Picture, January 1929, pp. 42, 93, 95. Written by a Walthall fan from back in the day who gushed, "That's my man" (or something along those lines), whenever she saw him on the screen or pictured in a magazine (now who'd gush over a magazine photo of Henry B. Walthall?...Oh, yeah, that's right). Growing up to be a reporter on the movie stars, Hall gets a call from the man himself to go out to lunch. The story describes his beginnings as the "black sheep" of his family due to being the only one bitten by the Broadway bug, his early works in film and what happened to the stars of yesteryear. According to Walthall in, as Hall observes, "that sad, off-hand voice of his," "the ones who have remained are the ones who have kept their heads. Their balance. They haven't grown impossible egos, thought they were of supreme importance, become overbearing, cold to others..." He also talked about the need to change the type of one's work as one ages. The most eye-opening revelation in this interview was his answer to Hall's question "Would you do it [be an actor] all over again if you could?" Walthall replied, "No..." There is a definite melancholy undertone to the article. It offers three rare photos including one from the film The Little Colonel with him, according to the caption, "surrendering his heart to Ethel Stone" which is rather sweet (the photo, not the sappy caption).
Hayden, Kathlyn, "Killed By Success," Picture Show, June 8, 1929, p. 18. There is something about 1929 that brought on the depressing Walthall stories (and the stock market hadn't even crashed yet). The above article by Hall described Walthall's sad laughter and voice and his revelation that he would not be an actor if he had it all to do over. Topping that, this Hayden interview of the same year is the most bitter I've read. Walthall explains how he has "been trying to live down that picture [Birth of a Nation] ever since it was made." Of his famous role, he stated "It's beautiful, but I'm sick of it." The author explains that, after reading a review claiming he was receiving "shabby treatment" in the film industry, Walthall was bent on dropping film work and returning to theatre. Walthall also lamented on why he did not enjoy much success in theatre: "Can you imagine what it is to rehearse a part and know that you are doing well, and then to have someone say: 'Your work is all that could be desired, and we would keep you in this-- if you were only an inch or two taller!'"
Boy's Cinema, May 17, 1930, pp. 19-25. The film "In Old California" is put in story form in this issue. Henry received top billing in the film, but only has one photo in this magazine (on page 23).
Kingsley, Grace, "Reminiscences of Henry Walthall," The New Movie Magazine, August 1931, pp. 76-77, 101-3. "The beloved 'Little Colonel' relates his recollections of the glamorous days of film making." Includes two photos including the gorgeous one at the end of the Biography page.
Parton, Lemuel F. "Fade-outs," Vanity Fair, July 1932, pp. 18-19, 56, 60). Just one sentence on Henry Walthall but it does offer two photos, the earlier photo is used in Walthall's bio in the Hollywood Forever directory and the later one I have not seen anywhere else.
Rankin, Ruth, "The Little Colonel Marches Back," Photoplay, June 1934, pp. 70, 95-7. Interesting article on Walthall being "rediscovered" by the talkies which was written after the success of Viva Villa. Also discusses Walthall's illness before the filming of Birth of a Nation (again, no specifics). Includes 3 photos including a rare shot from Men in White.
Hill, Gertrude, "Henry B. Walthall: A Gentleman of Hollywood," Silver Screen, October 1934, pp. 26-7. Interesting interview conducted by a visitor to Henry's hunting lodge in California's High Sierras. Walthall talked about his role in Viva Villa! (a role in which he "felt uplifted"), his preference to play villains ("There is sauce to a villain"), why he never wanted to play Hamlet ("I'd rather have more action and less talking"), and the time he felt greatest (when a girl took him to be younger than he was). This article is the only account I've read describing Walthall's eyes as being blue.
Williams, Whitney, "'The Little Colonel' Returns to Glory," News Telegram, Dec. 28, 1934, p. 5. A happy Henry describes the accolades he received since the release of Judge Priest. Of his role as Rev. Ashby Brand: "Many a year has passed since I played a part that pleased me so." I learned from this article that one of Walthall's favorite dishes was corn bread and creamed chicken.
"3-Miljoners-film fran Fox: 'Dantes Inferno,'" Allas Veckotidning January 5, 1936, pp. 23-22 (the page numbers are strangely reversed). This Swedish film magazine devotes its centerfold to coverage of the film Dante's Inferno. It is a beautiful colorized collage with two photos of Henry.
"Artistas Que Desapparecem," Cinearte Rio de Janeiro, 15 de Agosto de 1936, pp. 40-1, 45. Brazilian magazine with a feature on Walthall. I cannot read a word of it, but it has the coolest collage of photos, some of which I have not seen anywhere else. It made an appropriate memorial feature, but it makes no mention of China Clipper, and I can't find anything that looks like a reference to his death, so I am not sure if it was just a coincidence. [Not in this article, but an interesting note considering this magazine is from South America: Walthall's daughter Patricia left the rigors of movie life, married and moved to Buenos Aires. She had two children (son and daughter)].
Boy's Cinema, December 19, 1936, pp. 2-12, 25-27. "The Last Outlaw" is the featured story in this issue. Henry does not sport the cover but he is in 3 photos. Sadly, by the time this publication hit the stands, Henry was dead.
Lewis, Frederick, The Strange Case of Mary Page, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1916. Only has one photo of Walthall as Langdon in a coat and carrying a top hat (facing page 92). Fortunately, it's a rather nice one.
Marks, Percy, The Plastic Age, New York: Gossett & Dunlap, 1924. Has only one fuzzy photo of Henry facing page 300. He is looking at his on-screen son after the football game.
Rives, Hallie Erminie, The Long Lane's Turning, New York: Grosset & Dunlap, has a copyright date of 1917, but the film was released in 1919. Includes 5 photos of Walthall as Harry Sevier (the front pic, in particular, is quite nice).
Primary Sources (by author)
Brown, Karl, Adventures With D.W. Griffith, New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1973. D.W. Griffith's cameraman recalls being impressed by the "giant" found in "some circus" who played Holofernes in Judith of Bethulia, later to learn it was the diminutive Walthall (pg. 4). He also explained how a driving scene was filmed for The Great Love with Walthall at the wheel even though "Henry couldn't drive a car at all" (pg. 201).
Gish, Lillian with Ann Pinchot, The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1969. Mentions that "in the 1940s--Mr. Griffith claimed that Walthall's Little Colonel was the greatest male performance in the history of films" (pg. 150). Gish also mentions Walthall's excellent riding skills (pg. 147). This book also mentions how Walthall needed a bodyguard to get him to work on time which is included in the "The D.W. Griffith Years" Biography page.
Gish, Lillian, Dorothy and Lillian Gish, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973. Describes the scene where she and "Wally" were hoisted up on wires in Home, Sweet Home. Having to film the scene more than once in the hot sun, "Wally fainted" but Lillian had a fun time (pg. 29). Also mentions her meeting with Walthall for The Scarlet Letter, ten years after their last film together The Great Love. She had grown to be "a head taller" and Walthall "had to play our scenes together standing on wooden boxes" (pg. 146).