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.
- Wrote his novel "Mr. Arkadian" during an extended stay with 'Laurence Olivier' (qv) and his wife 'Vivien Leigh' (qv). Welles was appearing at Olivier's St. James Theater in London at the time.
- On 30 October 1938, he directed the Mercury Theatre On the Air in a dramatization of "War of the Worlds", based on 'H.G. Wells' (qv)' novel. Setting the events in then-contemporary locations (The "landing spot" for the Martian invasion, Grover's Mill, New Jersey, was chosen at random with a New Jersey road map) and dramatizing it in the style of a musical program interrupted by news bulletins, complete with eye-witness accounts, it caused a nationwide panic, with many listeners fully convinced that the Earth was being invaded by Mars. The next day, Welles publicly apologized. While many lawsuits were filed against both Welles and the CBS radio network, all were dismissed. The incident is mentioned in textbook accounts of mass hysteria and the delusions of crowds.
- He made _The Lady from Shanghai (1947)_ (qv) towards the end of his marriage to 'Rita Hayworth' (qv). They were constantly fighting at the time and (some say as a comeuppance to Hayworth) he made her cut off most of her long, luxurious red hair and dye it bright platinum blonde.
- 'H.G. Wells' (qv) was driving through San Antonio, Texas and stopped to ask the way. The person he happened to ask was none other than 'Orson Welles' (qv) who had recently broadcast "The War of the Worlds" on the radio. They got on well and spent the day together.
- Hated working on _The Transformers: The Movie (1986)_ (qv), where he voiced Unicron. When asked about the film, he not only couldn't remember the name of his character, but he described the film as being "I play a big toy who attacks a bunch of smaller toys.".
- 'Merv Griffin' (qv) claims in his new DVD collection, "Merv Griffin: Interesting People" that Welles died two hours after giving Merv an interview in which he had said to ask him anything, "for this interview there are no subjects about which I won't speak." In the past, Welles refused to speak about the past.
- Most of his movie projects never got finished or released due to financial problems and disputes with studio executives. Some of his unfinished productions are: _The Deep (1970)_ (qv) ('Laurence Harvey (I)' (qv)'s death made a finished movie impossible), _The Merchant of Venice (1969) (TV)_ (qv) and _Don Quijote de Orson Welles (1992)_ (qv).
- Ashes are buried inside an old well covered by flowers, within the rural property of retired bullfighter 'Antonio Ordˇ˝ez (I)' (qv), Ronda, Malaga, Spain.