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.
- 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).
- '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.
- Longtime companion of 'Oja Kodar' (qv). They lived together until his death.
- Is portrayed by 'Paul Shenar' (qv) in the made-for-TV film _The Night That Panicked America (1975) (TV)_ (qv), which dramatized Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio drama.
- Father with 'Rita Hayworth' (qv) of 'Rebecca Welles (II)' (qv).
- He died only two hours after being interviewed on _"The Merv Griffin Show" (1962)_ (qv) on October 10, 1985.
- 'Marlene Dietrich' (qv) said about him: "You should cross yourself when you say his name.".
- Father with 'Paola Mori' (qv) of 'Beatrice Welles' (qv), whom Welles made the sole heir of his estate.