Walter Hampden

Walter Hampden

Walter Hampden is the artist name of Walter Hampden Dougherty (born June 30, 1879 in Brooklyn; died June 11, 1955 in Los Angeles) was a U.S. actor and theatre manager.

infobox actor

caption=Walter Hampden as Oberon in
A Midsummer Night's Dream
birthname=Walter Hampden Dougherty
birthdate=birth date|1879|6|30
birthplace=Brooklyn, New York
deathdate=death date and age|1955|6|11|1879|6|30
deathplace=Los Angeles, California
occupation=Stage, film, television actor, theatre manager

He went to England for apprenticeship for six years. Later, he played Hamlet, Henry V and Cyrano de Bergerac on Broadway. In 1925, he became manager of the Colonial Theatre on Broadway. He became noted for his Shakespearean roles as well as for Cyrano. Hampden's last stage role was as Danforth in the original Broadway production of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible".

Hampden appeared in a few silent films, but did not really begin his film career in earnest until 1939, when he played the good Archbishop (Frollo's brother) in the Charles Laughton version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". Hampden's character was one that does not appear in Victor Hugo's novel; he was created for the film because the censors of the time frowned on depicting an evil archdeacon in films. Several other roles followed—Jarvis Langdon in the 1944 film "The Adventures of Mark Twain" among them, but all were supporting character roles, not the lead roles that Hampden played onstage. He had a small role in All About Eve (1950), and he played long-bearded patriarchs in biblical epics like The Silver Chalice (1954) and The Prodigal (1955).

In addition to his radio roles ("The Adventures of Leonidas Witherall"), Hampden also appeared in several dramas during the early days of television. He made his TV debut in 1949, playing Macbeth for the last time at the age of 69.

His last role was the non-singing one of King Louis XI of France, considered by some to be one of his best performances, in the otherwise unremarkable 1956 Technicolor remake of Rudolf Friml's 1925 operetta "The Vagabond King". It was released posthumously, more than a year after Hampden's death.

For 27 years, Walter Hampden was president of the Players' Club. The club's library is named for him.



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