70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
Guest TV Roles[none found]
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.
- Dated 'Eartha Kitt' (qv). He called her "the most exciting woman in the world."
- His performance as Harry Lime in _The Third Man (1949)_ (qv) is ranked #93 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- 'Marlene Dietrich' (qv) said about him: "You should cross yourself when you say his name.".
- 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).
- Provided voice for some songs of heavy metal band Manowar: Dark Avenger and Defender
- Declined the chance to be the voice of Darth Vader in _Star Wars (1977)_ (qv).
- 'John Ford (I)' (qv), whom Welles admired as the greatest American director and who, in turn, admired Welles as a director and actor, wanted to cast him as Mayor Frank Skeffington in his movie adaption of 'Edwin O'Connor (I)' (qv)'s novel _The Last Hurrah (1958)_ (qv). Welles was unable to accept the role due to scheduling conflicts, and 'Spencer Tracy' (qv) was cast instead.
- Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890- 1945". Pages 1168-1185. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.