Henry B. Walthall
(03/16/1878 - 06/17/1936)

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-American War, but was infected with malaria while his regiment was encamped in Jacksonville, Florida. Soon after his recovery, the regiment was discharged. He became ambitious for the stage and joined the Murray Hill Theater stock company, where he played small parts. Later he became affiliated with the American Theater stock company and soon afterward joined the Providence, Rhode Island, stock company.

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-Majestic Studios in 1913. After a few months with Reliance, he joined Pathé for a short period.

He decided to go into the producing business and formed The Union Feature Film Company, the first to be devoted entirely to full-length films. The venture was not successful, however, and he again became associated with Griffith's company.

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-scale fame, and Walthall was soon able to emerge as a leading actor in the years leading up to the 1920s, parting ways with Griffith.

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.

Available Films

D. W. Griffith Director - Vol. #3

D. W. Griffith Director - Vol. #4

D. W. Griffith Director - Vol. #5

D. W. Griffith Director - Vol. #6

The Avenging Conscience (1914)

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

The Raven / Ghosts (1915)

The Confession (1920)

Kit Carson Over the Great Divide (1925)

The Unknown Soldier (1926)

Klondike (1932)

Beggars in Ermine (1934)

The Scarlet Letter (1934)