Walter Hampden is the artist name of Walter Hampden Dougherty was a U.S. actor and theatre manager. He was the son of John Hampden Dougherty and Alice Hill. He was a younger brother of the American painter Paul Dougherty.
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, which was renamed Hampden's Theatre from 1925 to 1931. He became noted for his Shakespearean roles as well as for Cyrano, which he played in several productions between 1923 and 1936. Hampden's last stage role was as Danforth in the original Broadway production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
John Garrett Underhill produced the first English-language version of The Bonds of Interest by Jacinto Benavente, with Walter Hampden, in 1929.
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 of Paris in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, starring Charles Laughton as Quasimodo. This was Hampden's first sound film; he was sixty at the time he made it. 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, but notable role as the long-winded dinner speaker in the first scene of All About Eve, and played the father of Humphrey Bogart and William Holden in Billy Wilder's 1954 comedy Sabrina. These last two films are arguably the ones that Hampden is most well known to modern audiences for. He also played long-bearded patriarchs in biblical epics like The Silver Chalice and The Prodigal.