70 (passed away Oct. 10th, 1985)
May. 6th, 1915
Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
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' 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 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.
- 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.
- Father with 'Paola Mori' (qv) of 'Beatrice Welles' (qv), whom Welles made the sole heir of his estate.
- Dated 'Eartha Kitt' (qv). He called her "the most exciting woman in the world."
- Is portrayed by 'Liev Schreiber' (qv) in _RKO 281 (1999) (TV)_ (qv), by 'Edward Edwards (I)' (qv) in _Rita Hayworth: The Love Goddess (1983) (TV)_ (qv), by 'Eric Purcell' (qv) in _Malice in Wonderland (1985) (TV)_ (qv), by 'Vincent D'Onofrio' (qv) in _Ed Wood (1994)_ (qv), and by 'Angus Macfadyen (I)' (qv) in _Cradle Will Rock (1999)_ (qv)
- Considered black and white to be "the actor's best friend", feeling that it focused more on the actor's expressions and feelings than on hair, eye or wardrobe color.
- Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 861-864. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
- 'Laurence Olivier' (qv) had wanted to cast him as Buckingham in his film of Shakespeare's "Richard III" but gave the role to 'Ralph Richardson (I)' (qv), his oldest friend, because Richardson wanted it. In his autobiography, Olivier says he wishes he had disappointed Richardson and cast Welles instead, as he would have brought an extra element to the screen, an intelligence that would have gone well with the plot element of conspiracy.