Orson Welles

Director, Actor, Producer
An undeniable pioneer in both radio and film, actor-director Orson Welles used his bona fide genius to change the face of both mediums with imagination, ambition and technically daring. Having started off as a performer ... Read more »
Born: 05/06/1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA

Filmography

Actor (117)

Searching for Orson 2005 (Movie)

(Actor)

Orson Welles: The One-Man Band 1996 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Gold Lust 1994 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Gold Lust 1994 (Movie)

Presenter (Actor)

The Last Sailors 1994 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

The Last Sailors 1994 (Movie)

Presenter (Actor)

Orson Welles: What Went Wrong? 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Orson Welles' Don Quixote 1991 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Orson Welles' Don Quixote 1991 (Movie)

American Director (Actor)

Hollywood Mavericks 1990 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Hot Money 1989 (Movie)

(Actor)

Magnum, P.I. 1980 - 1988 (TV Show)

Voice

Someone to Love 1988 (Movie)

Danny's Friend (Actor)

Filming "Othello" 1987 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

King Penguin: Stranded Beyond the Falklands 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Narrator

Transformers - The Movie 1986 (Movie)

of Planet Unicron (Voice)

Almonds and Raisins 1985 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Dom DeLuise and Friends, Part 3 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Scene of the Crime 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Slapstick of Another Kind 1984 (Movie)

of Alien Father (Voice)

The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Where Is Parsifal? 1984 (Movie)

Klingsor (Actor)

Dom DeLuise and Friends 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

In Our Hands 1983 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Baryshnikov in Hollywood 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Doug Henning's World of Magic 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Magic With the Stars 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Butterfly 1981 (Movie)

Judge Ranch (Actor)

Dean Martin's Comedy Classics 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

History of the World Part I 1981 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Orson Welles a la Cinematheque 1981 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Genocide 1980 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Sinatra -- The First 40 Years 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow 1980 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Dean Martin's Celebrity Roast 1973 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Muppet Movie 1979 (Movie)

Lord Lew (Actor)

The First 50 Years 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Narrator

The Late Great Planet Earth 1977 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Rime of the Ancient Mariner 1976 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Voyage of the Damned 1976 (Movie)

Jose Estedes--Cuban Industrialist (Actor)

And Then There Were None 1975 (Movie)

on Tape Recorder (Voice)

The Challenge 1975 (Movie)

Narration(on-camera) (Narrator)

Orson Welles' Great Mysteries 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

The Man Who Came to Dinner 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

F for Fake 1972 (Movie)

(Actor)

Get to Know Your Rabbit 1972 (Movie)

Mr Delasandro (Actor)

The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Treasure Island 1972 (Movie)

Long John Silver (Actor)

Directed By John Ford 1971 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

Malpertuis: Histoire d'une maison Maudite 1971 (Movie)

Cassavius (Actor)

Necromancy 1971 (Movie)

Mr Cato (Actor)

A Safe Place 1970 (Movie)

The Magician (Actor)

Catch-22 1970 (Movie)

General Dreedle (Actor)

La Decade Prodigieuse 1970 (Movie)

Theo (Actor)

Start the Revolution Without Me 1970 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

The Battle of Neretva 1970 (Movie)

Senator (Actor)

The Kremlin Letter 1970 (Movie)

Aleksei Bresnavitch (Actor)

Waterloo 1970 (Movie)

Louis XVIII (Actor)

Upon This Rock 1969 (Movie)

Michelangelo (Actor)

I'll Never Forget What's 'Is Name 1968 (Movie)

Jonathan Lute (Actor)

Casino Royale 1967 (Movie)

LeChiffre (Actor)

Chimes at Midnight 1967 (Movie)

Falstaff (Actor)

Oedipus the King 1967 (Movie)

Tiresias (Actor)

The Sailor From Gibraltar 1967 (Movie)

Louis from Mozambique (Actor)

Une Histoire Immortelle 1967 (Movie)

Mr Clay (Actor)

A Man For All Seasons 1966 (Movie)

Cardinal Wolsey (Actor)

Is Paris Burning? 1966 (Movie)

Nordling (Actor)

Marco the Magnificent 1964 (Movie)

Ackerman (Actor)

The Trial 1963 (Movie)

Hastler (Actor)

The V.I.P.s 1963 (Movie)

Max Buda (Actor)

Lafayette 1962 (Movie)

Ben Franklin (Actor)

RoGoPag 1962 (Movie)

Director (Actor)

King of Kings 1961 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Austerlitz 1960 (Movie)

Robert Fulton (Actor)

Crack in the Mirror 1960 (Movie)

Hagolin/Lamoriciere (Actor)

Compulsion 1959 (Movie)

Jonathan Wilk (Actor)

Ferry to Hong Kong 1959 (Movie)

Captain Hart (Actor)

I Tartari 1959 (Movie)

Burandai (Actor)

The Long, Hot Summer 1958 (Movie)

Will Varner (Actor)

The Roots of Heaven 1958 (Movie)

Cy Sedgewick (Actor)

Touch of Evil 1958 (Movie)

Hank Quinlan (Actor)

Man in the Shadow 1957 (Movie)

Virgil (Actor)

Moby Dick 1956 (Movie)

Father Mapple (Actor)

Royal Affairs in Versailles 1956 (Movie)

Benjamin Franklin (Actor)

Mr. Arkadin 1955 (Movie)

Gregory Arkadin (Actor)

Napoleon 1955 (Movie)

Hudson Lowe (Actor)

Othello 1955 (Movie)

Othello (Actor)

Trouble in the Glen 1953 (Movie)

Sanin Cejadory Mengues (Actor)

Three Cases of Murder 1952 (Movie)

Lord Mountdrago (Actor)

The Third Man 1950 (Movie)

Harry Lime (Actor)

Macbeth 1948 (Movie)

Macbeth (Actor)

The Lady From Shanghai 1948 (Movie)

Michael O'Hara (Actor)

The Magnificent Ambersons 1942 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Citizen Kane 1941 (Movie)

Charles Foster Kane (Actor)

A Woman Called Moses (TV Show)

Narrator

Americans on Everest (TV Show)

Narrator

Black Magic (Movie)

Cagliostro (Actor)

Directed by John Ford (TV Show)

Actor

Fountain of Youth (TV Show)

Actor

House of Cards (TV Show)

Actor

It Happened One Christmas (TV Show)

Actor

Journey into Fear (Movie)

Col. Haki (Actor)

Prince of Foxes (Movie)

Cesare Borgia (Actor)

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (TV Show)

Voice

Shogun (TV Show)

Narrator

The Black Rose (Movie)

Bayan (Actor)

The Stranger (Movie)

Franz Kindler/Prof. Charles Rankin (Actor)

Tomorrow Is Forever (Movie)

John MacDonald/Erich Kessler (Actor)

Trent's Last Case (Movie)

Sigsbee Manderson (Actor)
Writer (21)

The Magnificent Ambersons 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Screenplay

Orson Welles' Don Quixote 1991 (Movie)

(original shoot) (Screenplay)

F for Fake 1972 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Treasure Island 1972 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Chimes at Midnight 1967 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Chimes at Midnight 1967 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

Une Histoire Immortelle 1967 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Trial 1963 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Touch of Evil 1958 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Mr. Arkadin 1955 (Movie)

(Source Material (from novel))

Mr. Arkadin 1955 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Othello 1955 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Othello 1955 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

Macbeth 1948 (Movie)

adaptation (Writer (adaptation))

The Lady From Shanghai 1948 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Magnificent Ambersons 1942 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Citizen Kane 1941 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Too Much Johnson 1937 (Movie)

(adaptation) (Screenplay)

Journey into Fear (Movie)

(Screenwriter)

The Big Brass Ring (TV Show)

From Story

The Stranger (Movie)

(Screenwriter)
Director (17)

The Other Side of the Wind 2014 (Movie)

(Director)

Orson Welles' Don Quixote 1991 (Movie)

(Director)

Filming "Othello" 1987 (Movie)

(Director)

Fake? 1973 (Movie)

(Director)

F for Fake 1972 (Movie)

(Director)

Chimes at Midnight 1967 (Movie)

(Director)

Une Histoire Immortelle 1967 (Movie)

(Director)

The Trial 1963 (Movie)

(Director)

Touch of Evil 1958 (Movie)

(Director)

Mr. Arkadin 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

Othello 1955 (Movie)

(Director)

Macbeth 1948 (Movie)

(Director)

The Lady From Shanghai 1948 (Movie)

(Director)

The Magnificent Ambersons 1942 (Movie)

(Director)

Citizen Kane 1941 (Movie)

(Director)

Too Much Johnson 1937 (Movie)

(Director)

The Stranger (Movie)

(Director)
Producer (7)

Chimes at Midnight 1967 (Movie)

(Producer)

Othello 1955 (Movie)

(Producer)

Macbeth 1948 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Magnificent Ambersons 1942 (Movie)

(Producer)

Citizen Kane 1941 (Movie)

(Producer)

Too Much Johnson 1937 (Movie)

(Producer)

Journey into Fear (Movie)

(Producer)
Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup (1)

Mr. Arkadin 1955 (Movie)

costume design (Costume Designer)
Camera, Film, & Tape (1)

F for Fake 1972 (Movie)

(Photography)
Art Department (1)

Mr. Arkadin 1955 (Movie)

art direction (Art Director)
Other (2)

Marlene 1986 (Movie)

film extracts("Citizen Kane" (1941) "Touch of Evil" (1958)) (Other)

F for Fake 1972 (Movie)

from idea (Other)

Biography

An undeniable pioneer in both radio and film, actor-director Orson Welles used his bona fide genius to change the face of both mediums with imagination, ambition and technically daring. Having started off as a performer on stage, most notably with John Houseman, with whom he formed the famed Mercury Theatre, Welles used his distinctive baritone voice to create innovative radio dramas. He became famous - notorious, even - following his 1938 broadcast of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds," which he presented as a real time news event, sparking panic among listeners who thought Martians really were invading New Jersey. The fame he achieved in the wake of the broadcast attracted RKO Pictures, where he made the most stunning directorial debut in the history of cinema with "Citizen Kane" (1941), long considered to be the greatest film ever made. Using innovative narrative and technological techniques, Welles singlehandedly changed the face of cinema, earning the nickname the Boy Wonder. He went on to direct "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942), though both films were financial failures that prompted his exit from RKO. After marrying Love Goddess Rita Hayworth and directing "The Stranger" (1946) and "Macbeth" (1948), Welles began a 10-year self-imposed Hollywood exile that saw him appear onscreen in movies like "The Third Man" (1949) while directing well-received films overseas like "Othello" (1952) and "Mr. Arkadin" (1955). He returned to Hollywood to helm "Touch of Evil" (1958), a classic film noir, while suffering a commercial drubbing with his adaptation of Franz Kafka's "The Trial" (1962). His take on Shakespeare's famed character, Falstaff, in "Chimes at Midnight" (1966) again earned international acclaim despite being largely ignored in the United States. Though he fell on hard times in the 1970s, Welles nonetheless remained busy with numerous projects in various stages of completion while appearing onscreen in a number of performances and using his distinctive voice in a variety of narrator roles. When he died in 1985, Welles left behind a legacy as a consummate artist and true auteur whose influence was profoundly felt by several generations of filmmakers.

Relationships

Maurice Bernstein

Guardian
discovered Orson Welles to be a prodigy at 18 months of age gave Welles artistic gifts named Welles' legal guardian after father's death in 1930 nicknamed "Dadda" by Welles

Dolores Del Rio Actor

Companion
Married to Cedric Gibbons at time of relationship with Welles from 1939-1942 acted together with Welles in the film, "Journey into Fear" (1942) older than Welles popular film star of the 1920s and 1930s

Christopher Feder

Daughter
born 1937 mother Virginia Nicholson appeared as MacDuff's son in "Chimes at Midnight"

Rita Hayworth Actor

Wife
Married on Sept. 7, 1943 Separated just before shooting of "The Lady From Shanghai" (1948) Divorced Dec. 1, 1948

Oja Kodar Actor

Companion
Welles' companion in his later years survived him

Paola Mori Actor

Wife

Paola Mori

Wife
met c. 1954 married on May 8, 1955 divorced born c. 1931 died in a car crash in August 1986 Welles starred her as his daughter in "Mr. Arkadin" (1955) mother of Beatrice Welles

Virginia Nicholson

Wife
married on November 14, 1934 in secret ceremony remarried formally in West Orange New Jersey formally spearated in December 1939 divorced decree granted in Reno on February 1, 1940 born in 1916 met at Todd School summer festival that Welles coordinated in 1934 while she was student at Miss Hare's University for girls married screenwriter Charles Lederer (nephew of Marion Davies) c. 1940 after divorce from Welles

Richard Welles

Father
born in Missouri in 1872 died on December 28, 1930 in Chicago of heart and kidney failure at age 58 made money as manufacturer of bicycle and auto lamps in Kinosha Wisconsin sold business so as not to have to change from the popular carbide lamp he had invented to electrical model invented glider attached to steam-driven engine

Beatrice Welles

Mother
born in Springfield, Ohio c. 1879, died on May 10, 1924 of acute yellow atrophy of the liver at age 43

Rebecca Welles

Daughter
born in 1944 mother, Rita Hayworth

Richard Welles

Brother
ten years Orson's senior expelled from Todd School institutionalized in mental homes during the early 1930s

Beatrice Welles-Smith

Daughter
born in November 1955 mother, Paola Mori named after Welles' mother played a page in father's movie "Chimes at Midnight" (1966) owns Beatrice Welles, a cosmetics company married to Christoper Smith (a supplier of in-room movies to Las Vegas hotels) lives in Welles' Las Vegas home

EDUCATION

Todd School

Woodstock , Illinois 1931

Milestones

1998

Restored version of "Touch of Evil" using Welles' 17-page memo as guideline premiered

1993

Reconstruction of substantial parts of "It's All True" publicly premiered at New York Film Festival

1955

Wrote and starred in the stage play "Moby Dick--Rehearsed"; performed in London

1954

Hosted BBC series, "The Orson Welles Sketchbook" (date approximate)

1953

TV acting debut in Peter Brook's "King Lear"

1946

Directed and starred in (for producer Sam Spiegel/Sam S Eagle) only commercially successful directorial effort, "The Stranger"

1942

With romantic leading role as Rochester in "Jane Eyre" began acting in films directed by others

1941

Just before completion of shooting of second film, "The Magnificent Ambersons," was sent by RKO (through a Nelson Rockefeller-run government office) as cultural ambassador to South America to keep positive relations with USA; shot footage for omnibus film

1940

Feature film directing, producing, acting and co-writing (with Herman Mankiewicz) debut, "Citizen Kane"

1940

Was voice-over narrator of RKO's "Swiss Family Robinson"

1938

First short film as solo director, "Too Much Johnson" (also co-producer; writer); was to be incorporated into play of same name which never made it to Broadway; sole extant print allegedly lost in fire in 1970

1938

Made national headlines with CBS radio broadcast (for "Mercury Theatre of the Air") of H.G. Wells' "The War of the Worlds" (the night of October 30)

1937

Formed Mercury Theater with John Houseman

1937

During one Broadway season, helmed four major successes for the Mercury Theatre, beginning with a modern-dress "Julius Caesar"; generally hailed as one of the great stage talents of the day

1936

First major stage success as director, "Macbeth" (for Federal Theater Project, Harlem); featured an all-black cast which later went to Broadway and toured the country; often referred to as the "voodoo Macbeth" due to the Haitian setting and African-influe

1934

Co-directed and acted in short film, "The Hearts of Age"

1934

Broadway acting debut (as Tybalt) in "Romeo and Juliet"

1934

Radio acting debut

1932

Returned to USA

1931

First leading stage role at Dublin's Gate Theater in "Jew Suss"

1931

Began tour of Ireland

1927

Became ward of Chicago doctor, Maurice Bernstein, at age 12 (date approximate)

Returned to USA for starring role on Broadway in own production of "King Lear"; hired first as actor, then director, of Charlton Heston screen vehicle "Touch of Evil"

Born with anomalies of the spine which caused Welles pain throughout his life

Regularly seen in TV commercials for Paul Masson wines in 1980s

Moved to Chicago as a child

Moved back to Europe

Parents separated when Welles was six; traveled after divorce

Rejected by draft board (due to asthma and flat feet); during remaining war years had various radio shows and worked as a journalist, often praising his friend, President Roosevelt

First stage appearance, a walk-on bit in the Chicago Opera's production of "Samson and Delilah" at age five; then played "Madame Butterfly"'s child "Trouble"

Returned to USA in 1970s

Signed by RKO; given carte blanche; originally planned several other films, including an adaptation of "Heart of Darkness," before settling on the less ambitious "Citizen Kane"

Self-imposed exile in Europe; had trouble with back taxes

Bonus Trivia

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There was a special issue of the film journal Persistence of Vision dedicated to Welles.

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