70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
Orson Welles' Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
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.
- 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).
- 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).
- He was the studio's first choice to play the voiceover role of "OMM" in _THX 1138 (1971)_ (qv). However, director 'George Lucas (I)' (qv) insisted on casting the relatively unknown stage actor 'James Wheaton' (qv) instead.
- 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.
- Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890- 1945". Pages 1168-1185. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
- Is portrayed by 'Liev Schreiber' (qv) in _RKO 281 (1999) (TV)_ (qv), by 'Edward Edwards (I)' (qv) in _Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess (1983) (TV)_ (qv), by 'Eric Purcell' (qv) in _Malice in Wonderland (1985) (TV)_ (qv), by 'Vincent D'Onofrio' (qv) in _Ed Wood (1994)_ (qv), and by 'Angus Macfadyen (I)' (qv) in _Cradle Will Rock (1999)_ (qv)
- 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.
- 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.