George Orson Welles was an American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter who is remembered for his innovative work in film, radio, and theatre.
184 Facts About Orson Welles
Orson Welles is considered to be among the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time.
Orson Welles released twelve other features, the most acclaimed of which include The Magnificent Ambersons, The Lady from Shanghai, Touch of Evil, The Trial, Chimes at Midnight and F for Fake.
Orson Welles was an outsider to the studio system and struggled for creative control on his projects early on with the major film studios in Hollywood and later in life with a variety of independent financiers across Europe, where he spent most of his career.
Many of his films were either heavily edited or remained unreleased; after Orson Welles went to South America to film the documentary It's All True, RKO cut more than forty minutes from Ambersons and added a happier ending, against his wishes.
Orson Welles wrote a 58-page memo to Universal about the editing of Touch of Evil, which they disregarded.
Orson Welles had three marriages, including one with Rita Hayworth, and three children.
Orson Welles was a lifelong magician, noted for presenting troop variety shows in the war years.
Orson Welles was a lifelong member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians.
George Orson Welles was born May 6,1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a son of Richard Head Welles and Beatrice Ives Welles.
Orson Welles was named after one of his great-grandfathers, influential Kenosha attorney Orson S Head, and his brother George Head.
Mrs Welles was pregnant at the time, and when they said goodbye, she told them that she had enjoyed their company so much that if the child were a boy, she intended to name him after them: George Orson.
Orson Welles's parents separated and moved approximately 55 miles south to Chicago in 1919.
Orson Welles briefly attended public school before his alcoholic father left business altogether and took him along on his travels to Jamaica and the Far East.
Orson Welles briefly attended public school in Madison, Wisconsin, enrolled in the fourth grade.
On September 15,1926, he entered the Todd Seminary for Boys, an expensive independent school in Woodstock, Illinois, that his older brother, Richard Ives Orson Welles, had attended ten years before until he was expelled for misbehavior.
At Todd School, Orson Welles came under the influence of Roger Hill, a teacher who was later Todd's headmaster.
On December 28,1930, when Orson Welles was 15, his father died of heart and kidney failure at the age of 58, alone in a hotel in Chicago.
Shortly before this, Orson Welles had announced to his father that he would stop seeing him, believing it would prompt his father to refrain from drinking.
Orson Welles studied for a few weeks at the Art Institute of Chicago with Boris Anisfeld, who encouraged him to pursue painting.
Orson Welles said that while on a walking and painting trip through Ireland, he strode into the Gate Theatre in Dublin and claimed he was a Broadway star.
Orson Welles performed small supporting roles in subsequent Gate productions, and he produced and designed productions of his own in Dublin.
In March 1932, Welles performed in W Somerset Maugham's The Circle at Dublin's Abbey Theatre and traveled to London to find additional work in the theatre.
Orson Welles found his fame ephemeral and turned to a writing project at Todd School that became immensely successful, first entitled Everybody's Shakespeare and subsequently, The Mercury Shakespeare.
Orson Welles traveled to North Africa while working on thousands of illustrations for the Everybody's Shakespeare series of educational books, a series that remained in print for decades.
Wilder arranged for Orson Welles to meet Alexander Woollcott in New York in order that he be introduced to Katharine Cornell, who was assembling a repertory theatre company.
That summer, Orson Welles staged a drama festival with the Todd School at the Opera House in Woodstock, Illinois, inviting Micheal Mac Liammoir and Hilton Edwards from Dublin's Gate Theatre to appear along with New York stage luminaries in productions including Trilby, Hamlet, The Drunkard and Tsar Paul.
On November 14,1934, Orson Welles married Chicago socialite and actress Virginia Nicolson in a civil ceremony in New York.
Orson Welles wore a cutaway borrowed from his friend George Macready.
On March 22,1935, Orson Welles made his debut on the CBS Radio series The March of Time, performing a scene from Panic for a news report on the stage production.
John Houseman, director of the Negro Theatre Unit in New York, invited Orson Welles to join the Federal Theatre Project in 1935.
The Federal Theatre Project was the ideal environment in which Orson Welles could develop his art.
The production became known as the Voodoo Macbeth because Orson Welles changed the setting to a mythical island suggesting the Haitian court of King Henri Christophe, with Haitian vodou fulfilling the role of Scottish witchcraft.
In 1937, Orson Welles rehearsed Marc Blitzstein's political operetta, The Cradle Will Rock.
Orson Welles was executive producer, and the original company included such actors as Joseph Cotten, George Coulouris, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Arlene Francis, Martin Gabel, John Hoyt, Norman Lloyd, Vincent Price, Stefan Schnabel and Hiram Sherman.
Simultaneously with his work in the theatre, Orson Welles worked extensively in radio as an actor, writer, director and producer, often without credit.
Orson Welles's performance as the announcer in the series' April 1937 presentation of Archibald MacLeish's verse drama The Fall of the City was an important development in his radio career and made the 21-year-old Welles an overnight star.
Orson Welles's growing fame drew Hollywood offers, lures that the independent-minded Orson Welles resisted at first.
Orson Welles began commuting from California to New York for the two Sunday broadcasts of The Campbell Playhouse after signing a film contract with RKO Pictures in August 1939.
Orson Welles co-wrote, produced and directed the film, and he performed the lead role.
Orson Welles wrote his own draft, then drastically condensed and rearranged both versions and added scenes of his own.
Orson Welles's project attracted some of Hollywood's best technicians, including cinematographer Gregg Toland.
Peter Bogdanovich recalled watching the film on television with Orson Welles, who had tears in his eyes.
At RKO's request, Orson Welles worked on an adaptation of Eric Ambler's spy thriller Journey into Fear, co-written with Joseph Cotten.
Orson Welles later said that they were in such a rush that the director of each scene was determined by whoever was closest to the camera.
In late November 1941, Orson Welles was appointed as a goodwill ambassador to Latin America by Nelson Rockefeller, US Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and a principal stockholder in RKO Radio Pictures.
Orson Welles concludes that Welles's acceptance of Whitney's request was "a logical and patently patriotic choice".
Orson Welles spoke on topics ranging from Shakespeare to visual art at gatherings of Brazil's elite, and his two intercontinental radio broadcasts in April 1942 were particularly intended to tell US audiences that President Vargas was a partner with the Allies.
Orson Welles worked for more than half a year with no compensation.
In July 1941, Orson Welles conceived It's All True as an omnibus film mixing documentary and docufiction in a project that emphasized the dignity of labor and celebrated the cultural and ethnic diversity of North America.
In December 1941, the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs asked Orson Welles to make a film in Brazil that would showcase the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.
Orson Welles decided to do a ripped-from-the-headlines episode about the epic voyage of four poor Brazilian fishermen, the jangadeiros, who had become national heroes.
Orson Welles left for Brazil on February 4 and began filming in Rio on February 8,1942.
In South America, Orson Welles requested resources to finish It's All True.
Orson Welles returned to the United States August 22,1942, after more than six months in South America.
Orson Welles's shows were regarded as significant contributions to the war effort.
In early 1943, the two concurrent radio series that Orson Welles created for CBS to support the war effort had ended.
Orson Welles approached the War Assistance League of Southern California and proposed a show that evolved into a big-top spectacle, part circus and part magic show.
Orson Welles offered his services as magician and director, and invested some $40,000 of his own money in an extravaganza he co-produced with his friend Joseph Cotten: The Mercury Wonder Show for Service Men.
Orson Welles remarked that The Mercury Wonder Show had been performed for approximately 48,000 members of the US armed forces.
The performances of the all-star jazz group Orson Welles brought together for the show were so popular that the band became a regular feature and was an important force in reviving interest in traditional New Orleans jazz.
Orson Welles was placed on the US Treasury payroll on May 15,1944, as an expert consultant for the duration of the war, with a retainer of $1 a year.
On November 21,1944, Orson Welles began his association with This Is My Best, a CBS radio series he would briefly produce, direct, write and host.
Orson Welles presented a half-hour dramatic program written by Ben Hecht on the opening day of the conference, and on Sunday afternoons he led a weekly discussion from the San Francisco Civic Auditorium.
Orson Welles was told that if the film was successful he could sign a four-picture deal with International Pictures, making films of his own choosing.
Orson Welles was given some degree of creative control, and he endeavored to personalize the film and develop a nightmarish tone.
Orson Welles worked on the general rewrite of the script and wrote scenes at the beginning of the picture that were shot but subsequently cut by the producers.
Orson Welles filmed in long takes that largely thwarted the control given to editor Ernest J Nims under the terms of the contract.
Orson Welles had seen the footage in early May 1945 in San Francisco, as a correspondent and discussion moderator at the UN Conference on International Organization.
Orson Welles wrote of the Holocaust footage in his syndicated New York Post column May 7,1945.
When Orson Welles ran out of money he convinced Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn to send enough money to continue the show, and in exchange Orson Welles promised to write, produce, direct and star in a film for Cohn for no further fee.
Orson Welles said it was his favorite of his stage productions.
Again, Orson Welles lacked a clear focus, until the NAACP brought to his attention the case of Isaac Woodard.
The film that Orson Welles was obliged to make in exchange for Harry Cohn's help in financing the stage production Around the World was The Lady from Shanghai, filmed in 1947 for Columbia Pictures.
The script, adapted by Orson Welles, is a violent reworking of Shakespeare's original, freely cutting and pasting lines into new contexts via a collage technique and recasting Macbeth as a clash of pagan and proto-Christian ideologies.
Orson Welles returned and cut 20 minutes from the film at Republic's request and recorded narration to cover some gaps.
Orson Welles appeared as Cesare Borgia in the 1949 Italian film Prince of Foxes, with Tyrone Power and Mercury Theatre alumnus Everett Sloane, and as the Mongol warrior Bayan in the 1950 film version of the novel The Black Rose.
From 1949 to 1951, Orson Welles worked on Othello, filming on location in Italy and Morocco.
In 1952, Orson Welles continued finding work in England after the success of the Harry Lime radio show.
In 1953, the BBC hired Orson Welles to read an hour of selections from Walt Whitman's epic poem Song of Myself.
Orson Welles briefly returned to America to make his first appearance on television, starring in the Omnibus presentation of King Lear, broadcast live on CBS October 18,1953.
Orson Welles's next turn as director was the film Mr Arkadin, which was produced by his political mentor from the 1940s, Louis Dolivet.
In 1955, Orson Welles directed two television series for the BBC.
Orson Welles served as host and interviewer, his commentary including documentary facts and his own personal observations.
Orson Welles assures the audience that he personally saw to it that justice was served to this policeman although he doesn't mention what type of justice was delivered.
Orson Welles then goes on to give other examples of police being given more power and authority than is necessary.
Orson Welles left the only copy of it in his room at the Hotel Ritz in Paris.
Orson Welles began filming a projected pilot for Desilu, owned by Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, who had recently purchased the former RKO studios.
Orson Welles guest starred on television shows including I Love Lucy.
Orson Welles stayed on at Universal to direct Charlton Heston in the 1958 film Touch of Evil, based on Whit Masterson's novel Badge of Evil.
Originally only hired as an actor, Orson Welles was promoted to director by Universal Studios at the insistence of Heston.
The film reunited many actors and technicians with whom Orson Welles had worked in Hollywood in the 1940s, including cameraman Russell Metty, makeup artist Maurice Seiderman, and actors Joseph Cotten, Marlene Dietrich and Akim Tamiroff.
Orson Welles continued shooting Don Quixote in Spain and Italy, but replaced Mischa Auer with Francisco Reiguera, and resumed acting jobs.
In 1961, Orson Welles directed In the Land of Don Quixote, a series of eight half-hour episodes for the Italian television network RAI.
Ultimately, versions of the episodes were released with the original musical score Orson Welles had approved, but without the narration.
In 1962, Orson Welles directed his adaptation of The Trial, based on the novel by Franz Kafka and produced by Michael and Alexander Salkind.
Orson Welles thought the location possessed a "Jules Verne modernism" and a melancholy sense of "waiting", both suitable for Kafka.
Peter Bogdanovich would later observe that Orson Welles found the film riotously funny.
Orson Welles told a BBC interviewer that it was his best film.
Orson Welles played a film director in La Ricotta, Pier Paolo Pasolini's segment of the Ro.
Orson Welles continued taking what work he could find acting, narrating or hosting other people's work, and began filming Chimes at Midnight, which was completed in 1965.
In 1966, Orson Welles directed a film for French television, an adaptation of The Immortal Story, by Karen Blixen.
In 1967, Orson Welles began directing The Deep, based on the novel Dead Calm by Charles Williams and filmed off the shore of Yugoslavia.
In 1968 Welles began filming a TV special for CBS under the title Orson's Bag, combining travelogue, comedy skits and a condensation of Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice with Welles as Shylock.
In 1969 Orson Welles called again the Film Editor Frederick Muller to work with him re-editing the material and they set up cutting rooms at the Safa Palatino Studios in Rome.
In 1969, Orson Welles authorized the use of his name for a cinema in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Orson Welles Cinema remained in operation until 1986, with Welles making a personal appearance there in 1977.
Orson Welles returned to Hollywood, where he continued to self-finance his film and television projects.
Orson Welles's primary focus during his final years was The Other Side of the Wind, a project that was filmed intermittently between 1970 and 1976.
Orson Welles portrayed Louis XVIII of France in the 1970 film Waterloo, and narrated the beginning and ending scenes of the historical comedy Start the Revolution Without Me.
Orson Welles appeared in Ten Days' Wonder, co-starring with Anthony Perkins and directed by Claude Chabrol, based on a detective novel by Ellery Queen.
In 1972, Orson Welles acted as on-screen narrator for the film documentary version of Alvin Toffler's 1970 book Future Shock.
Orson Welles contributed to the script, although his writing credit was attributed to the pseudonym 'O.
In some versions of the film Orson Welles's original recorded dialog was redubbed by Robert Rietty.
In 1973, Orson Welles completed F for Fake, a personal essay film about art forger Elmyr de Hory and the biographer Clifford Irving.
Orson Welles filmed a five-minute trailer, rejected in the US, that featured several shots of a topless Kodar.
In 1975, Orson Welles narrated the documentary Bugs Bunny: Superstar, focusing on Warner Bros.
At the ceremony, Orson Welles screened two scenes from the nearly finished The Other Side of the Wind.
Paramount planned to begin with an ABC-TV movie and hoped to persuade Orson Welles to continue the role in a miniseries.
Again, Orson Welles bowed out of the project due to creative differences and William Conrad was cast in the role.
In 1979, Orson Welles completed his documentary Filming Othello, which featured Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards.
That same year, Welles completed his self-produced pilot for The Orson Welles Show television series, featuring interviews with Burt Reynolds, Jim Henson and Frank Oz and guest-starring the Muppets and Angie Dickinson.
Also in 1979, Orson Welles appeared in the biopic The Secret of Nikola Tesla, and a cameo in The Muppet Movie as Lew Lord.
In 1981, Orson Welles hosted the documentary The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, about Renaissance-era prophet Nostradamus.
Orson Welles provided narration for the tracks "Defender" from Manowar's 1987 album Fighting the World and "Dark Avenger" on their 1982 album, Battle Hymns.
In 1984, Orson Welles narrated the short-lived television series Scene of the Crime.
Orson Welles's death forced this minor character to largely be written out of the series.
The last film roles before Orson Welles's death included voice work in the animated films Enchanted Journey and the animated film The Transformers: The Movie, in which he provided the voice for the planet-eating supervillain Unicron.
Orson Welles recorded an introduction to an episode entitled "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice," which was partially filmed in black and white.
Orson Welles and Chicago-born actress and socialite Virginia Nicolson were married on November 14,1934.
Infatuated with her since adolescence, Orson Welles met del Rio at Darryl Zanuck's ranch soon after he moved to Hollywood in 1939.
Del Rio returned to Mexico in 1943, shortly before Orson Welles married Rita Hayworth.
In 1955, Orson Welles married actress Paola Mori, an Italian aristocrat who starred as Raina Arkadin in his 1955 film, Mr Arkadin.
Lindsay-Hogg knew Orson Welles, worked with him in the theatre and met him at intervals throughout Orson Welles's life.
The article falsely states that he was descended from "Gideon Orson Welles, who was a member of President Lincoln's cabinet".
Orson Welles said that a voice specialist once told him he was born to be a heldentenor, a heroic tenor, but that when he was young and working at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, he forced his voice down into a bass-baritone.
In 1928, at age 13, Orson Welles was already more than six feet tall and weighed over 180 pounds.
When Peter Bogdanovich once asked him about his religion, Orson Welles gruffly replied that it was none of his business, then misinformed him that he was raised Catholic.
Orson Welles was politically active from the beginning of his career.
Orson Welles remained aligned with left-wing politics and the American Left throughout his life, and always defined his political orientation as "progressive".
Orson Welles was a strong supporter of Franklin D Roosevelt and the New Deal and often spoke out on radio in support of progressive politics.
Orson Welles campaigned heavily for Roosevelt in the 1944 election.
Orson Welles said that Hitler made no impression on him at all and does not remember him.
In 1946, Orson Welles took to the airwaves in a series of radio broadcasts demanding justice for a decorated Black veteran Isaac Woodard, who had been beaten and blinded by white police officers.
Orson Welles was in Europe during the height of the Red Scare, thereby adding one more reason for the Hollywood establishment to ostracize him.
In 1970, Orson Welles narrated a satirical political record on the rise of President Richard Nixon titled The Begatting of the President.
Orson Welles spoke before a crowd of 700,000 at a nuclear disarmament rally in Central Park on June 12,1982, and attacked the policies of President Ronald Reagan and the Republican party.
Orson Welles returned to his house in Hollywood and worked into the early hours typing stage directions for the project he and Gary Graver were planning to shoot at UCLA the following day.
Orson Welles was cremated by prior agreement with the executor of his estate, Greg Garrison, whose advice about making lucrative TV appearances in the 1970s made it possible for Orson Welles to pay off a portion of the taxes he owed the IRS.
Orson Welles was so totally in control that he never had to prove a point out of any kind.
Sometimes Orson Welles was holding the camera himself, but wherever the camera was, he had put it there, and all the lights were placed exactly where he said they were to be put.
In 1987 the ashes of Orson Welles were taken to Ronda, Spain, and buried in an old well covered by flowers on the rural estate of a long-time friend, bullfighter Antonio Ordonez.
Orson Welles financed his later projects through his own fundraising activities.
Orson Welles often took on other work to obtain money to fund his own films.
Orson Welles expanded the film to feature length, developing the screenplay to take Quixote and Sancho Panza into the modern age.
Orson Welles continued editing the film into the early 1970s.
Frederick Muller, the film editor for The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, and the CBS Special Orson Welles Bag, worked on editing three reels of the original, unadulterated version.
In 1969, Orson Welles was given a TV commission to film a condensed adaptation of The Merchant of Venice.
Orson Welles completed the film by 1970, but the finished negative was later mysteriously stolen from his Rome production office.
In 1970, Orson Welles began shooting The Other Side of the Wind.
Bogdanovich and Marshall planned to complete Orson Welles's nearly finished film in Los Angeles, aiming to have it ready for screening on May 6,2015, the 100th anniversary of Orson Welles's birth.
Heart of Darkness was Orson Welles's projected first film, in 1940.
In 1941, Orson Welles planned a film with his then partner, the Mexican actress Dolores del Rio.
Orson Welles made a correction of the script in 13 extraordinary sequences.
In 1943, the film was finally completed with the settings of Orson Welles, led by Norman Foster and starring Mexican actress Esther Fernandez.
In 1941 Orson Welles planned a Mexican drama with Dolores del Rio, which he gave to RKO to be budgeted.
Orson Welles planned to shoot in Mexico, but the Mexican government had to approve the story, and this never occurred.
In 1941, Orson Welles received the support of Bishop Fulton Sheen for a retelling of the life of Christ, to be set in the American West in the 1890s.
Orson Welles wrote a screenplay with dialogue from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke.
Orson Welles did not originally want to direct It's All True, a 1942 documentary about South America, but after its abandonment by RKO, he spent much of the 1940s attempting to buy the negative of his material from RKO, so that he could edit and release it in some form.
In 1944, Orson Welles wrote the first-draft script of Monsieur Verdoux, a film that he intended to direct.
Orson Welles began scouting for locations in Europe whilst filming Black Magic, but Korda was short of money, so sold the rights to Columbia pictures, who eventually dismissed Welles from the project, and then sold the rights to United Artists, who in turn made a film version in 1950, which was not based on Welles's script.
The footage was never edited, funding never came through, and Orson Welles abandoned the project.
Orson Welles intended this completed sketch to be one of several items in a television special on London.
Orson Welles wrote two screenplays for Treasure Island in the 1960s, and was eager to seek financial backing to direct it.
Orson Welles's plan was to film it in Spain in concert with Chimes at Midnight.
Orson Welles intended to play the part of Long John Silver.
Orson Welles wanted Keith Baxter to play Doctor Livesey and John Gielgud to take on the role of Squire Trelawney.
In 1978 Orson Welles was lined up by his long-time protege Peter Bogdanovich to direct Saint Jack, an adaptation of the 1973 Paul Theroux novel about an American pimp in Singapore.
However, both Hefner and Shepherd became convinced that Bogdanovich himself would be a more commercially viable director than Orson Welles and insisted that Bogdanovich take over.
In 1984, Orson Welles wrote the screenplay for a film he planned to direct, an autobiographical drama about the 1937 staging of The Cradle Will Rock.
At the time of his death, Orson Welles was in talks with a French production company to direct a film version of the Shakespeare play King Lear, in which he would play the title role.
Orson Welles admired Nabokov's Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle and initiated a film project of the same title in collaboration with the author.
Orson Welles flew to Paris to discuss the project personally with Nabokov, because at that time the Russian author moved from America to Europe.