Born Walter Houghston in Toronto, Ontario, he began his Broadway career in 1924, he achieved fame in character roles once talkies began in Hollywood. His first major role was in 1929's The Virginian, opposite Gary Cooper. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1936 for Dodsworth, which he had also performed on Broadway.
Huston stayed busy throughout the 1930s and 1940s, both on stage and screen. He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1948 for his role in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. His last film was in 1950's The Furies. He died in Hollywood.