Walter Miller (actor)

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Walter Miller
The Shadow (1921) - Ad 1.jpg
Miller with Muriel Ostriche in ad for The Shadow, 1921
Born(1892-03-09)March 9, 1892
DiedMarch 30, 1940(1940-03-30) (aged 48)
Burial place Calvary Cemetery
Years active1911–1940

Walter Miller (March 9, 1892 March 30, 1940) was an American actor of the silent era and the early sound era. [1] [2] He appeared in nearly 250 films between 1911 and 1940.


Born William Corwin Miller in Dayton, Ohio, the young man developed an interest in the theater. Like some young actors whose lack of experience gave them fewer opportunities on the stage, the 19-year-old Miller entered the pioneering motion picture industry and joined the Biograph Company in 1911, where he worked with D. W. Griffith.

Miller established himself as an expressive character actor, with a muscular frame and rock-jawed features, and received starring, co-starring, or featured roles in action pictures. He worked with many leading actresses of the silent screen, including Mary Pickford, Blanche Sweet, Lillian Gish, and Betty Compson. [3] By the late 1920s he was a popular lead in serials, often opposite Allene Ray in such titles as The Way of a Man (1924), Sunken Silver (1925), Hawk of the Hills , and The Black Book (1929). [4] The Miller-Ray partnership came to a sudden end in 1929, when the new talking-picture technology revealed that Ray's high, squeaky voice didn't fit her adventurous screen personality. Miller, whose speaking voice had matured into a hearty baritone, made the transition from silent to sound pictures successfully. He was equally at ease playing heroes and villains. Miller was especially valuable to low-budget producers like John Freuler, Aubrey Kennedy, and Nat Levine, who could rely on Miller's stage presence and efficiency with dialogue to keep their productions on schedule.

He returned briefly to leading roles in 1931 when Spencer Gordon Bennet, one of his serial directors, cast him in two-reel short subjects, which Bennet produced and directed for RKO release. Miller played real-life detective Nick Harris in the "True Detective Stories of Celebrated Cases" series.

In the 1930s Walter Miller became a fixture at Universal Pictures, appearing in eight serials and numerous features. His most prominent appearance of the sound era was one of his last. In the 1938 Weiss Bros. serial The Secret of Treasure Island , released by Columbia Pictures, Miller was a last-minute replacement for Bela Lugosi. Miller, as the stern, domineering master of an island, was determined to locate long-lost pirate treasure. The actor turned in a bravura performance in the final chapter, where he actually finds the treasure but plunges into mania when he can't escape.

Miller kept working in features and serials until 1940, when he suffered a heart attack during the filming of the Gene Autry western Gaucho Serenade . He was 48. [5] He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois.

Miller's grave at Calvary Cemetery Grave of Walter C. Miller (1892-1940) at Calvary Cemetery, Evanston.jpg
Miller's grave at Calvary Cemetery

Selected filmography

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  1. "Walter Miller". Silent Era. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  2. Katchmer, George A. (May 20, 2015). A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses. McFarland. ISBN   9781476609058 via Google Books.
  3. Exhibitors Daily Review, "Sign Walter Miller," Dec. 12, 1930, p. 2.
  4. Film Daily Year Book of 1940, "Serials Released Since 1920," p. 265.
  5. "Walter Miller, Veteran Film Player, Passes". The Long Beach Sun. Hollywood. UP. April 1, 1940. p. 6. Retrieved September 27, 2021 via