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Overview for John Huston
John Huston

John Huston

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Also Known As: John Marcellus Huston,Maj. John Huston,Capt. John Huston Died: August 28, 1987
Born: August 5, 1906 Cause of Death: complications from emphysema
Birth Place: Nevada, Missouri, USA Profession: Cast ... director actor screenwriter producer artist journalist boxer author
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BIOGRAPHY

ctress Zoe Sallis in the 1960s, took over the helm.isfits," Huston opted to cast the fragile, declining actor in "Freud: The Secret Passion" (1962), the director¿s rather off-kilter biography of the famed psychoanalyst. Huston collaborated with French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre on the script, though both men failed to get along, leading Satre to remove his name from the credits. Making his feature debut as an actor, Huston delivered a surprisingly good supporting performance in Otto Preminger¿s religious-themed drama "The Cardinal" (1963), which led to his only acting Academy Award nomination ¿ Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Back in the director¿s chair, he helmed the stylish, but rather thin detective drama "The List of Adrian Messenger" (1963), starring John Merivale and George C. Scott, and featuring a bevy of cameos from the likes of Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra and Tony Curtis. Huston returned to artistic form with his adaptation of Tennessee Williams¿ drama "The Night of the Iguana" (1964), which starred Richard Burton as the alcoholic defrocked Reverend Shannon, who works as a tour guide in Mexico and attempts various dalliances with three women ¿ a hotel-owning widow (Ava Gardner), a 17-year-old girl (Sue Lyon) and a chaste artist (Deborah Kerr).

Huston spent a great deal of time making his next picture, "The Bible: In the Beginning" (1966), a massive and often disjointed epic that retold the first 22 chapters of the Book of Genesis. With varying tones and visual styles, Huston sped through the stories of creation, Adam and Eve (Michael Parks and Ulla Bergryd), Cain and Abel (Richard Harris and Franco Nero), the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the plight of Abraham (George C. Scott). Even Huston appeared onscreen in a seriocomic rendering of Noah¿s ark, while also voicing the narrator, the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and even God himself. The film was intended as the first of several installments in a franchise, but a poor showing at the box office ended that particular aspiration. Huston next joined four other directors to helm the confusing mishmash parody "Casino Royale" (1967), in which an aging James Bond (David Niven) is called upon to save his agency from being infiltrated by villains. He moved on to direct "Reflections in a Golden Eye" (1967), a rather bleak drama about a tormented Army officer (Marlon Brando) struggling to hide his latent homosexuality from his wife (Elizabeth Taylor), who carries on with another officer (Brian Keith). The role was originally intended for Montgomery Clift, but was offered to Brando after Clift died from a heart attack in 1966.

Huston suffered more personal tragedy when wife, Enrica Soma, mother of Anjelica, died in an automobile accident in 1969. Meanwhile, he directed the then-inexperienced Anjelica in the costume romance "A Walk with Love and Death" (1969), which many critics castigated as a vanity project for his daughter, though her performance was better than was acknowledged. With his career clearly on a down slope, Huston directed such forgettable pictures as the caper comedy "Sinful Davey" (1969) and the spy thriller "The Kremlin Letter" (1970), while appearing more frequently onscreen with roles in the satirical "Myra Breckinridge" (1970) and the Spaghetti Western "The Deserter" (1971). After directing "The Last Run" (1971) with George C. Scott, Huston returned to form with the sorrowful "Fat City" (1972), a gritty and rather downbeat story of the ebbing fortunes of a washed-up boxer (Stacy Keach) who takes up with an alcoholic outcast (Susan Tyrrell) while raising the hopes of a young boxer on the rise (Jeff Bridges). Despite the movie¿s failure at the box office, largely due to its bleak tone, Huston was welcomed back into the good graces of the critical community. Also that year, he directed "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" (1972), a surreal, loosely-based biography of the infamous self-appointed frontier judge (Paul Newman), who held court in the wastelands of western Texas in the late 19th century.

After helming the misfire spy thriller "The Mackintosh Man" (1973), again starring Paul Newman, Huston appeared onscreen in perhaps his most famous role, playing the charming but despicable Noah Cross in "Chinatown" (1974), whose unspeakable relationship with his emotionally disturbed daughter (Faye Dunaway) leads a nosy private detective (Jack Nicholson) down a slippery slope of murder and deceit. Following a starring role as a villain who frames Charles Bronson in "Breakout" (1975), he directed the epic adventure "The Man Who Would Be King" (1975), adapted from the Rudyard Kipling short story of the same name. Originally planned more than 20 years previously as a vehicle for Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, the film starred Sean Connery and Michael Caine as two English ex-soldiers who leave British-ruled India to become kings in Afghanistan. Arguably one of his most fully realized quest narratives, "The Man Who Would Be King" earned Huston an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. He accepted roles in a variety of pictures, including the historical epic "The Wind and the Lion" (1975), the hysterically bad Italian horror flick "I Tentacoli" (1977), and the dull supernatural thriller "The Bermuda Triangle" (1978).

Despite his advanced age and increasingly poor health ¿ not to mention the coming and going of his fifth wife, Celeste Shane, whom he latter called a "crocodile" in his autobiography An Open Book (1980) ¿ Huston continued to make a movie almost every year. He next directed "Wise Blood" (1979), a compelling piece of Southern Gothic based on Flannery O'Connor's novel that was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. Following the disastrous horror flick, "Phobia" (1980), Huston directed the compelling World War II thriller "Victory" (1981), which chronicled a daring prison escape by a group of Allies (led by Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone) during a soccer match between the prisoners and Nazi soldiers. He helmed the well-intentioned, but ultimately overproduced musical "Annie" (1982), which went on to become a box office hit despite very mixed critical reviews. After directing the long strange trip "Under the Volcano" (1984), starring Albert Finney, Huston returned to past glory with "Prizzi¿s Honor" (1985), a crime comedy about a Mafia hit man (Jack Nicholson) who falls for his opposite number (Kathleen Turner), only to learn that she is next on his list. Daughter Anjelica Huston delivered a dynamic performance as the hit man¿s spurned lover, earning her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her triumph made the Hustons ¿ Walter, John and Anjelica ¿ the only family to win Oscars in three successive generations.

At this point in his life, Huston was far removed from his beloved Ireland and was residing in beautiful Las Caletas, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he engaged in a long romance with his much younger former housekeeper, Maricela Hernandez. His health was also rapidly failing him. He suffered from a long bout with emphysema while also undergoing major heart surgery. But none of this stopped the ever-energetic director who went on to helm another long-held project, "The Dead" (1987), an adaptation of the famous James Joyce short story which he co-wrote with son, Tony. Both elegiac and reflective, "The Dead" starred Anjelica Huston as a married woman forced by her spinster aunts (Helena Carroll and Cathleen Delany) to recount to her husband (Donal McCann) the story behind a long-dead lover who still holds sway over her life. The lyrical drama proved to be a fitting swan song for the director, who died on Aug. 28, 1987 in Middletown, R.I. He was 81. At the time of his death, Huston was preparing for his next film, "Mr. North" (1988), which he wrote and was also going to produce. But when his illnesses finally got the better of him, son Danny Huston, whom he had fathered with a

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