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.
- In the 1930s he worked at various radio stations in New York City, at different times of the day. He found it difficult to be on time for his live shows because he had to use taxicabs and the heavy New York City traffic meant that he was often late. He soon found a loophole in the law that said you didn't have to be sick to hire an ambulance, so he did just that and had the drivers blast their sirens as he traveled from one station to the next, and that way he was on time.
- Is portrayed by 'Paul Shenar' (qv) in the made-for-TV film _The Night That Panicked America (1975) (TV)_ (qv), which dramatized Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio drama.
- 'H.G. Wells' (qv) was driving through San Antonio, Texas and stopped to ask the way. The person he happened to ask was none other than 'Orson Welles' (qv) who had recently broadcast "The War of the Worlds" on the radio. They got on well and spent the day together.
- 'Merv Griffin' (qv) claims in his new DVD collection, "Merv Griffin: Interesting People" that Welles died two hours after giving Merv an interview in which he had said to ask him anything, "for this interview there are no subjects about which I won't speak." In the past, Welles refused to speak about the past.
- 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.
- 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.
- Was voted the 2nd Greatest Film Director of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
- Wanted to make films of two literary masterpices, 'Herman Melville' (qv)'s "Moby Dick" and 'Joseph Heller' (qv)'s "Catch-22", but had to be satisfied in having supporting roles in the films made of the two books by 'John Huston (I)' (qv) and 'Mike Nichols (I)' (qv).