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.
- 'Marlene Dietrich' (qv) said about him: "You should cross yourself when you say his name.".
- 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.
- He was of Scottish, Irish and German heritage.
- Has been played by 'Vincent D'Onofrio' (qv) twice: _Ed Wood (1994)_ (qv) and _Five Minutes, Mr. Welles (2005)_ (qv).
- He made _The Lady from Shanghai (1947)_ (qv) towards the end of his marriage to 'Rita Hayworth' (qv). They were constantly fighting at the time and (some say as a comeuppance to Hayworth) he made her cut off most of her long, luxurious red hair and dye it bright platinum blonde.
- Was voted the 2nd Greatest Film Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
- Has the distinction of appearing in both the American Film Institute and British Film Institute's #1 movie. For AFI it was _Citizen Kane (1941)_ (qv). For BFI it was _The Third Man (1949)_ (qv). Welles shares this distinction with 'Joseph Cotten (I)' (qv), who also stared in both "Kane" and "Third Man".
- Told 'Peter Bogdanovich' (qv) that, as a practicing magician, he became adept at the old carny trick of fortune-telling, but he became so good at it that it scared him. He was worried that he'd come to believe he actually DID have the power to tell the future, like the self-deluded fortune tellers known as a "shut eye."