Of German origin, William Van Haden began his stage career around 1895 appearing in German-language plays under the name of William A. Howell (or, as he was sometimes billed, W.A. Howell). After touring with several also-ran stock companies, Van Haden entered films with the Kalem company in 1911, appearing opposite that company's first leading lady, Gene Gauntier. He later worked for Rex, Biograph, and Thanhouser, starring in and directing a series of Falstaff comedies for the latter. Lensed in Florida, the Falstaff films were polite little situation comedies featuring Howell/Van Haden as a dapper gent with a thin mustache and looking for all the world like the later Charley Chase. He left Thanhouser to operate his own company, the short-lived Gotham Film Co., which produced "patriotic spectacles." By the 1920s, he was playing bit parts in low-budget Westerns but apparently did direct the still extant Jesus of Nazareth (1928), a screen pageant featuring Philip Van Loan as Christ and Anna Lehr (mother of actress Ann Dvorak) as the Virgin Mary. After the advent of sound, Van Haden became a busy performer in German-language versions of such Grade-A Hollywood productions as The Trial of Mary Dugan (1930) and The Big Trail (1931) but was offered mainly bit parts in more mainstream English-language fare. He died of a heart attack.