Henry Brazeale Walthall was born on a cotton plantation in Shelby County, Alabama, and received his education from a private tutor. As a young man, he enlisted in the Spanish-
Walthall began his career as a stage actor, appearing on Broadway in a supporting role in William Vaughn Moody's The Great Divide in 1906–1908. During his stage career, he appeared in Winchester, Under Southern Skies (1901) by Charlotte Blair Parker, Pippa Passes, The Faith Healer, The Only Way and other productions. For several seasons he was associated with Margaret Anglin and at the conclusion of that engagement, he joined the Biograph Company. His career in movies began in 1908, in the film Rescued from an Eagle's Nest, which also featured another young actor named D.W. Griffith. As the industry grew in size and popularity, Griffith emerged as a director and Walthall found himself a mainstay of the Griffith company, frequently working alongside such Griffith regulars as Owen Moore, Kate Bruce and Jack and Mary Pickford. He followed Griffith's departure from New York's Biograph to California's Reliance-
He decided to go into the producing business and formed The Union Feature Film Company, the first to be devoted entirely to full-
Given the relatively short length of films in the early years, Walthall frequently found himself cast in dozens of films each year. For those still unfamiliar with his face however, he gained national attention in 1915 for his role as Colonel Ben Cameron in Griffith's highly influential and controversial epic The Birth of a Nation. Walthall's portrayal of a Confederate veteran rounding up the Ku Klux Klan won him large-
He continued through the 1920s, appearing in The Plastic Age with Gilbert Roland and Clara Bow and a 1926 adaptation of The Scarlet Letter opposite Lillian Gish. Now in his 40s, he found his roles increasingly more of the "character" variety. Having experience as a stage actor, Walthall continued his career into the 1930s until his death.
He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard.