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.
- Was named #16 on the 50 Greatest Screen Legends list of the American Film Institute.
- Portrayed the title character on the syndicated radio show "The Lives of Harry Lime" (also known as "The Third Man") (1951-1952). It was based on his character from the film _The Third Man (1949)_ (qv).
- 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.".
- Biography in: John Wakeman, editor. "World Film Directors, Volume One, 1890- 1945". Pages 1168-1185. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1987.
- His 1937 Broadway stage production of 'William Shakespeare (I)' (qv)'s "Julius Caesar", in which the setting was changed to a modern Fascist Rome to reflect the Mussolini era, but in which Shakespeare's language was completely retained, became, and still remains, the longest-running Broadway production of the play. Welles played Brutus. This production was never filmed, but years later, Welles' former working partner 'John Houseman (I)' (qv) produced a traditional film version of the play for MGM, starring 'James Mason (I)' (qv) as Brutus, 'Marlon Brando' (qv) as Marc Antony and 'John Gielgud' (qv) as Cassius.
- Father with 'Paola Mori' (qv) of 'Beatrice Welles' (qv), whom Welles made the sole heir of his estate.
- Was the subject of author Mary Pacios' book about the "Black Dahlia" murder in Los Angeles in 1947 (called the most gruesome in the city's history). Pacios claimed Welles was the unknown murderer who slaughtered struggling actress 'Elizabeth Short (I)' (qv); however, the book was considered pure nonsense and debunked by many historians.
- 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).