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Raoul Walsh

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Occupation  Director, actor
Years active  1909–1964

Name  Raoul Walsh
Role  Film director
Raoul Walsh Raoul Walsh
Born  March 11, 1887 (1887-03-11) New York, New York, United States
Resting place  Assumption Catholic CemeterySimi Valley, Ventura County, California
Awards  Founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Died  December 31, 1980, Simi Valley, California, United States
Spouse  Mary Simpson (m. 1947–1980), Lorraine Miller (m. 1928–1947), Miriam Cooper (m. 1916–1926)
Children  Jackie Walsh, Bobbie Walsh
Books  Each Man in His Time: The Life Story of a Director
Movies  White Heat, High Sierra, The Big Trail, The Roaring Twenties, The Thief of Bagdad
Similar People  James Cagney, Errol Flynn, Virginia Mayo, Ida Lupino, George Raft

Examining the films of raoul walsh

Raoul A. Walsh (March 11, 1887 – December 31, 1980) was an American film director, actor, founding member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the brother of the silent screen actor George Walsh. He was known for portraying John Wilkes Booth in the silent classic The Birth of a Nation (1915) and for directing such films as The Big Trail (1930), starring John Wayne, High Sierra (1941), starring Ida Lupino and Humphrey Bogart; and White Heat (1949), starring James Cagney and Edmond O'Brien. He directed his last film in 1964.


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Raoul Walsh Greenbriar Picture Shows

Walsh was born in New York as Albert Edward Walsh to Elizabeth T. Bruff, the daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants, and Thomas W. Walsh, an Englishman. Like his younger brother, he was part of Omega Gamma Delta in high school. Growing up in New York, Walsh was also a friend of the Barrymore family. (John Barrymore recalled spending time reading in the Walsh family library as a youth.) Later in life he lived in Palm Springs, California. He was buried at Assumption Cemetery Simi Valley, Ventura County, California.

Film career

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Walsh was educated at Seton Hall College. He began acting in 1909, first as a stage actor in New York City and later as a film actor. In 1914 he became an assistant to D.W. Griffith and made his first full-length feature film, The Life of General Villa, shot on location in Mexico with Pancho Villa playing the lead and with actual ongoing battles filmed in progress as well as recreations (events dramatized in the 2003 film And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself, with Kyle Chandler playing Walsh). Walsh played John Wilkes Booth in Griffith's epic The Birth of a Nation (1915) and also served as an assistant director. This was followed by the critically acclaimed Regeneration in 1915, possibly the earliest feature gangster film, shot on location in Manhattan's Bowery district.

Walsh served as an officer in the United States Army during World War I. He later directed The Thief of Bagdad (1924), starring Douglas Fairbanks and Anna May Wong, and What Price Glory? (1926), starring Victor McLaglen and Dolores del Río.

In Sadie Thompson (1928), starring Gloria Swanson as a prostitute seeking a new life in Samoa, Walsh starred as Swanson's boyfriend in his first acting role since 1915; he also directed the film. He was then hired to direct and star in In Old Arizona, a film about O. Henry's character the Cisco Kid. While on location for that film Walsh was in a car crash when a jackrabbit jumped through the windshield as he was driving through the desert; he lost his right eye as a result. He gave up the part (but not the directing job) and never acted again. Warner Baxter won an Oscar for the role Walsh was originally slated to play. Walsh would wear an eyepatch for the rest of his life.

In the early days of sound with Fox, Walsh directed the first widescreen spectacle, The Big Trail (1930), an epic wagon train western shot on location across the West. The movie starred John Wayne, then unknown, whom Walsh discovered as prop boy Marion Morrison and renamed after the Revolutionary War general Mad Anthony Wayne; Walsh happened to be reading a book about him at the time. Walsh directed The Bowery (1933), featuring Wallace Beery, George Raft, Fay Wray and Pert Kelton; the energetic movie recounts the story of Steve Brodie (Raft), supposedly the first man to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and live to brag about it.

An undistinguished period followed with Paramount Pictures from 1935 to 1939, but Walsh's career rose to new heights after he moved to Warner Brothers, with The Roaring Twenties (1939), featuring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart; Dark Command (1940), with John Wayne and Roy Rogers (at Republic Pictures); They Drive By Night (1940), with George Raft, Ann Sheridan, Ida Lupino and Bogart; High Sierra (1941), with Lupino and Bogart again; They Died with Their Boots On (1941), with Errol Flynn as Custer; The Strawberry Blonde (1941), with Cagney and Olivia de Havilland; Manpower (1941), with Edward G. Robinson, Marlene Dietrich and George Raft; and White Heat (1949), with Cagney. Walsh's contract at Warners expired in 1953.

He directed several films afterwards, including three with Clark Gable: The Tall Men (1955), The King and Four Queens (1956) and Band of Angels (1957). Walsh retired in 1964.

Some of Walsh's film-related material and personal papers are contained in the Wesleyan University Cinema Archives, to which scholars and media experts from around the world may have full access.

Selected filmography

Walsh replaced director Bretaigne Windust, who fell severely ill, on "The Enforcer" and shot over half the film, but refused to take screen credit.


  • The Conqueror (Writer) (1917)
  • The Big Trail (story contributor) (uncredited) (1930)
  • Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (producer) (uncredited) (1951)
  • The Lawless Breed (producer) (uncredited) (1953)
  • Esther and the King (screenplay) (1960)
  • The Men Who Made the Movies: Raoul Walsh (TV Movie documentary)
  • Himself (1973)


    Raoul Walsh Wikipedia