70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
Guest TV Roles
Himself - Host
Himself - Presenter
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.
- He was the studio's first choice to play the voiceover role of "OMM" in _THX 1138 (1971)_ (qv). However, director 'George Lucas (I)' (qv) insisted on casting the relatively unknown stage actor 'James Wheaton' (qv) instead.
- In his collection of interviews, "This Is Orson Welles", he claimed to have never even read his so-called novelization of "Mr Arkadin", let alone written it.
- His average dinner famously consisted of two steaks cooked rare, and a pint of scotch - explaining his obesity as he got older, and his subsequent death.
- He became obese in his 40s, weighing over 350 pounds towards the end of his life.
- Was voted the 2nd Greatest Film Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
- 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))
- Most of his movie projects never got finished or released due to financial problems and disputes with studio executives. Some of his unfinished productions are: _The Deep (1970)_ (qv) ('Laurence Harvey (I)' (qv)'s death made a finished movie impossible), _The Merchant of Venice (1969) (TV)_ (qv) and _Don Quijote de Orson Welles (1992)_ (qv).
- 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.