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.
- Despite his reputation as an actor and master film-maker, he maintained his memberships in the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians (neither of which are unions, but fraternal organizations), and regularly practiced sleight-of-hand magic in case his career came to an abrupt end. Welles occasionally performed at the annual conventions of each organization, and was considered by fellow magicians to be extremely accomplished.
- His performance as Harry Lime in _The Third Man (1949)_ (qv) is ranked #93 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
- On old time radio, 'Orson Welles' (qv) provided the voice for Lamont Cranston, aka THE SHADOW.
- He became obese in his 40s, weighing over 350 pounds towards the end of his life.
- He died only two hours after being interviewed on _"The Merv Griffin Show" (1962)_ (qv) on October 10, 1985.
- Declined the chance to be the voice of Darth Vader in _Star Wars (1977)_ (qv).
- 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).
- Longtime companion of 'Oja Kodar' (qv). They lived together until his death.