Walter Stainton graduated from Cornell in the Class of 1920 and later returned as a professor of Speech and Drama. He was heavily involved on campus in the ROTC program and Cornell WEAI radio station but poured most of his resources into Cornell University Theatre. He eventually inherited the role of director from A.M. Drummond and was often consulted for assistance by other institutions with theatre construction and performance inquires. Stainton also led the university's film program and was deeply involved with the showing of new and classic films on campus. He was a member of multiple theatre and film organizations, including the Society for Cinema Studies and the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Stainton also focused specifically in his own work on Ithaca's past film industry and the history of film and theatre in Upstate New York.