70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
6' 1 1/2"
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 (I) 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.
- His performance as Charles Foster Kane in _Citizen Kane (1941)_ (qv) is ranked #12 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- He died only two hours after being interviewed on _"The Merv Griffin Show" (1962)_ (qv) on October 10, 1985.
- When execs at RKO couldn't decide on greenlight-ing _Citizen Kane (1941)_ (qv), Orson asked for film equipment and a small crew released so he could spend the mid-way time doing test shots. Not wanting their New-York-import to grow cold with the RKO deal, they granted the request ... Orson proceeded to shoot actual scenes of the movie. By the time execs realized what he had done, Orson had many key scenes complete. They green-lit _Citizen Kane (1941)_ (qv) ... Already having financed the picture, unknowingly.
- 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).
- One of only six actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance. (The other five actors are: 'Alan Arkin' (qv), 'James Dean (I)' (qv), 'Paul Muni (I)' (qv), 'Montgomery Clift' (qv) and 'Lawrence Tibbett' (qv))
- Provided voice for some songs of heavy metal band Manowar: Dark Avenger and Defender
- '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.
- Once ate 18 hot dogs in one sitting at Pink's, a Los Angeles hot dog stand.