Orson Welles

Orson Welles

70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Born in
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
6' 1

Orson Welles' Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Magnum, P.I. TV Show
Magnum, P.I.
National Geographic Specials TV Show
National Geographic Specials
Ford Star Jubilee TV Show
Ford Star Jubilee
The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine (UK) TV Show
The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine (UK)

Main Movie Roles

2013 - Don't Say No Until I Finish Talking: The Story of Richard D. Zanuck
2008 - Prodigal Sons
2005 - Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream
2002 - Lost in La Mancha
1995 - Get Shorty
1992 - Don Quijote de Orson Welles
1991 - Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse
1986 - Transformers: The Movie
1982 - Butterfly
1981 - History of the World: Part I
1981 - The Man Who Saw Tomorrow
1979 - The Muppet Movie
1972 - Necromancy
1972 - Treasure Island
1970 - Start the Revolution Without Me
1970 - Catch-22
1970 - The Kremlin Letter
1969 - 12 + 1
1968 - House of Cards
1967 - Casino Royale
1966 - A Man for All Seasons
1963 - The V.I.P.s
1961 - King of Kings
1959 - Compulsion
1958 - The Vikings
1958 - The Long, Hot Summer
1958 - Touch of Evil
1956 - Moby Dick
1955 - Mr. Arkadin
1955 - Three Cases of Murder
1955 - Napoléon
1952 - The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice
1950 - The Black Rose
1949 - The Third Man
1949 - Prince of Foxes
1948 - Macbeth
1947 - The Lady from Shanghai
1946 - The Stranger
1946 - Duel in the Sun
1944 - Follow the Boys
1943 - Journey Into Fear
1942 - The Magnificent Ambersons
1941 - Citizen Kane
1934 - The Hearts of Age

Guest TV Roles

Show Name
Characters Played
Ep Count
King Lear
[Complete List]


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.

  • When he signed on to direct _Touch of Evil (1958)_ (qv), instead of reading the book on which it was based, a pulp novel named "Badge of Evil," he completely changed an early draft of the script.
  • 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.
  • Has been played by 'Vincent D'Onofrio' (qv) twice: _Ed Wood (1994)_ (qv) and _Five Minutes, Mr. Welles (2005)_ (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.".
  • CBS wanted him to host _"The Twilight Zone" (1959)_ (qv) but the producers felt that he requested too much money. He was ultimately ruled out in favor of the show's creator, 'Rod Serling' (qv).
  • Declined the chance to be the voice of Darth Vader in _Star Wars (1977)_ (qv).
  • 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.

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