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Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA
Place of Death
Hollywood, California, USA
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Actor/Actress, Director, Writer
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Profile Bio Text
George Orson Welles, better known as Orson Welles, was an Academy Award-winning American director, writer, actor and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television, and radio. Welles was also an accomplished magician, starring in troop variety spectacles in the war years. Noted for his innovative dramatic productions as well as his distinctive voice and personality, Welles is widely acknowledged as one of the most accomplished dramatic artists of the 20th century. His first two films with RKO, Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons, are widely considered two of the greatest ever made. His other films, including Touch of Evil and Chimes at Midnight, are also considered masterpieces.
He is also well-known for a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells` novel "The War of the Worlds" which, performed in the style of a news broadcast, reportedly caused widespread panic when listeners thought that a real invasion was in progress.
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 died of heart failure in 1985.
Todd School, Woodstock, IL (1930)
Full Name at Birth
George Orson Welles
His Deep Voice
Howard Hawks, Joseph Cotten, Frank Sinatra, H.G. Wells, John Houseman, Bud Cort, John Ford, James Cagney, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert Wise, John Huston, Peter Viertel, Dean Martin, Gary Graver, Roger Hill, Ben Hecht, Teddy Stauffer, Ingmar Bergman, Herman J. Mankiewicz, Gerald Mohr, Agnes Moorehead, Beatriz Costa, Marlena Dietrich
Actor, director, writer, producer, voice actor
Richard Hodgdon Head Welles
Christopher Welles (son), Rebecca Welles Manning (daughter), Beatrice Welles (daughter)
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Carole Lombard, Lucille Ball, Fay Wray, Clifford Odets
George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American actor, director, writer, and producer who worked in theatre, radio, and film. He is remembered for his innovative work in all three: in theatre, most notably Caesar (1937), a Broadway adaptation of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar; in radio, the legendary 1938 broadcast "The War of the Worlds"; and in film, Citizen Kane (1941), consistently ranked as one of the greatest films ever made.
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