Biography

Brutish-looking actor Walter Long entered films in 1909 after brief stage experience. He became a valued member of D.W. Griffith's stock company, excelling in roles calling for strong-arm villainy and glowering menace. In Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915), Long played Gus, the renegade Negro whose lustful pursuit of virginal Mae Marsh results in the girl's suicidal leap from a precipice; while in the same director's Intolerance, Long was "the musketeer of the slums," a gangster boss whose murder motivates the climactic race to the rescue. He persisted in villainy into the 1920s, providing a formidable foe to such silent heroes as Rudolph Valentino and William Boyd. Despite his on-screen skullduggery, Long enjoyed a reputation as a prince of a fellow; his courtesy and good manners were particularly prized by the leading ladies whom Long's screen characters frequently imperiled. In talkies, Long proved to have a low, guttural voice that matched his movie image perfectly, and he continued unabated to portray thugs, pluguglies and lowlifes. Though many of his talkie roles were bit parts, he was well served in the films of Laurel and Hardy, playing a prison cell-block leader in Pardon Us (1931), a drink-sodden prizefighter in Any Old Port (1932), a vengeful gangster ("I'll break off yer legs and wrap 'em around yer neck") in Going Bye Bye (1934), a shanghaiing sea captain in The Live Ghost (1934), and a Mexican bandido in Pick a Star (1937). During World War II, the fifty-plus Walter Long served as a lieutenant colonel in the Army; upon his discharge, he returned to the stage, where he remained active until his retirement in 1950. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi