70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
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' 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.
- 'American Broadcasting Company (ABC) [us]' wanted him to play Mr. Roarke on _"Fantasy Island" (1978)_ (qv), but 'Aaron Spelling' (qv) insisted on 'Ricardo Montalban' (qv).
- Lobbied to get the part of Don Vito Corrleone in _The Godfather (1972)_ (qv). 'Francis Ford Coppola' (qv), a fan of his, had to turn him down because he already had 'Marlon Brando' (qv) in mind for the role and felt Welles wouldn't be right for it.
- Told 'Peter Bogdanovich' (qv) that, as a practicing magician, he became adept at the old carny trick of fortune-telling, but he became so good at it that it scared him. He was worried that he'd come to believe he actually DID have the power to tell the future, like the self-deluded fortune tellers known as a "shut eye."
- Once ate 18 hot dogs in one sitting at Pink's, a Los Angeles hot dog stand.
- 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).
- Longtime companion of 'Oja Kodar' (qv). They lived together until his death.
- He tried to make a film version of 'Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra' (qv)' book "Don Quixote". He started working on it in 1955 and continued to film through the 1970s with 'Francisco Reiguera' (qv) and 'Akim Tamiroff' (qv) starring. An incomplete version was released in Spain in 1992.
- In the 1930s he worked at various radio stations in New York City, at different times of the day. He found it difficult to be on time for his live shows because he had to use taxicabs and the heavy New York City traffic meant that he was often late. He soon found a loophole in the law that said you didn't have to be sick to hire an ambulance, so he did just that and had the drivers blast their sirens as he traveled from one station to the next, and that way he was on time.