70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
6' 1 1/2"
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Host
His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was nine) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr. Maurice Bernstein. In 1931 he graduated from the Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois; he turned down college offers for a sketching tour of Ireland. He tried unsuccessfully to enter the London and Broadway stages, traveling some more in Morocco and Spain (where he fought in the bullring). Recommendations by Thornton Wilder and Alexander Woollcott got him into Katherine Cornell's road company, with which he made his New York debut as Tybalt in 1934. The same year he married, directed his first short, and appeared on radio for the first time. He began working with John Houseman (I) and formed the Mercury Theatre with him in 1937. In 1938 they produced "The Mercury Theatre on the Air", famous for its broadcast version of "The War of the Worlds" (intended as a Halloween prank). His first film to be seen by the public was Citizen Kane (1941), a commercial failure losing RKO $150,000, but regarded by many as the best film ever made. Many of his next films were commercial failures and he exiled himself to Europe in 1948. In 1956 he directed Touch of Evil (1958); it failed in the U.S. but won a prize at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair. In 1975, in spite of all his box-office failures, he received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1984 the Directors Guild of America awarded him its highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award. His reputation as a film maker has climbed steadily ever since.
- 'Frank Sinatra' (qv) was the godfather of one of his daughters.
- He was awarded 2 Stars on the HOllywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 1600 Vine Street and for Radio at 6652 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
- Before deciding on adapting the life of 'William Randolph Hearst' (qv) in _Citizen Kane (1941)_ (qv), he intended his first film to be an adaptation of 'Joseph Conrad (I)' (qv)'s "Heart of Darkness". Coincidentally, he was 'Francis Ford Coppola' (qv)'s first choice for the role of Col. Kurtz in _Apocalypse Now (1979)_ (qv), itself an adaptation of "Heart of Darkness".
- Dated 'Eartha Kitt' (qv). He called her "the most exciting woman in the world."
- 'Marlene Dietrich' (qv) said about him: "You should cross yourself when you say his name.".
- Was possibly not as tall as is often reported. According to 'Simon Callow' (qv)'s "Orson Welles: The Road To Xanadu," medical records exist from a Welles physical in 1941. His weight is listed as 218, and his height at 72" - 6 feet even. Biographers 'Charles Higham' (qv) and Frank Brady describe Welles as being 6' 2", though they never provide a source. Biographer Barbara Leaming often comments on his height, but never gives an exact measurement. An early Current Biography article on Welles describes him as being "tall and chubby," while a later one gives the obviously incorrect 6' 3-1/2" height. If you average all the figures and based on his size compared to other actors, he probably in fact stood a little over 6 feet tall (6' 1" to 6' 2").
- A bootleg tape of a short-tempered (and foul-mouthed) Orson Welles arguing with a recording engineer during a voice-over session has been widely distributed. It was used as the basis for an episode of the cartoon show _"Pinky and the Brain" (1995)_ (qv), with The Brain reading cleaned-up verions of Orson's rantings (the episode's title, "Yes, Always", is taken from one of Orson's complaints). Ironically, the actor who plays The Brain, 'Maurice LaMarche' (qv), dubbed the voice of the actor who portrays Orson Welles in _Ed Wood (1994)_ (qv).
- (27 March 1938) Daughter born.