George Orson Welles, known more commonly as Orson Welles was a director, producer, writer, and actor. Mr. Welles was born on May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His father was an inventor and manufacturer and his mother a talented pianist. Welles was regarded as an absolute genius from early childhood and his creative abilities were encouraged and nurtured. His early childhood was to a large extent, directed by his mother\'s physician and admirer, Dr. Maurice Bernstein. (Russell 9) He made a successful career for himself on stage and radio starting at an early age and when he was 19, made his Broadway debut as Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet." He worked together on several projects with director/producer John Houseman, including a tremendously successful staging of "Macbeth" in Harlem with an all-black cast under the auspices of the Federal Theater Project. Mr. Welles and Mr. Houseman formed their own repertory company, the Mercury Theater, in 1937, and staged a highly acclaimed modern version of "Julius Caesar." (Russell 11)
Mr. Welles and the Mercury Players gained nationwide attention on CBS radio in their weekly dramatic program "Mercury Theater of the Air." The most famous show was their broadcast of the radio adaptation of H.G. Wells\' "War of the Worlds" on Halloween in 1938, reporting the landing of Martians in the U.S. The fictional news coverage of the invasion on the radio program seemed so real to many listeners that the broadcast caused a panic. The next day Orson Welles woke up to be internationally famous and notorious. (Russell 37)
Welles was brought to Hollywood by RKO, and his contract included unprecedented creative freedom for an untried filmmaker. After failing to get two projects off the ground, he made his extraordinary debut in 1941, at the young age of 25, with the film "Citizen Kane," the study of a tycoon based on William Randolph Hearst, a film regarded by many as the best film ever made. Welles produced, directed, co-wrote and starred in "Citizen Kane." He and co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz won the Academy Award for Best Writing. He also received nominations for Best Actor and Best Director, and the film was nominated for Best Picture.
Mr. Welles\' second film for RKO was "The Magnificent Ambersons," an adaptation of Booth Tarkington\'s novel. While Mr. Welles was away in South America working on "It\'s All True," the studio made severe cuts in "The Magnificent Ambersons" and shot a new ending. Though highly regarded by critics, and nominated for several Academy Awards, the film did not do well in the box office, and Mr. Welles and RKO parted soon after. Mr. Welles also produced and acted in the thriller "Journey into Fear" at that time.
In 1948 Welles co-starred with his ex-wife Rita Hayworth in the film "The Lady from Shanghai," his film noir tour-de-force that ends with a famous hall-of-mirrors shootout. (Russell 86) He then moved back to his love of Shakespeare with the first film in his Shakespearean trilogy, "Macbeth." The second and third films were "Othello" which won the Grand Prix at Cannes and "Chimes at Midnight." Soon afterward he wrote, directed, and acted in "Mr. Arkadin" also known as Confidential Report, a Citizen Kane-like film about the investigation into a powerful man\'s past, then directed and acted in the film noir masterpiece "Touch of Evil." In 1962 in Europe, he made "The Trial," based on Frank Kafka\'s novel. His final completed film was "F for Fake," part documentary and part staged footage about Clifford Irving and his hoax Howard Hughes biography, as well as legendary art forger Elmyr de Hory.
Welles also worked throughout his career as an actor in several films, including such movies as "Black Magic," "Prince of Foxes," and "The Third Man," as well as performing on stage, radio, and television. In the late 1970s Mr. Welles began work on a series of documentaries about his movies, including "Filming Othello," a documentary about the filming of his movie "Othello," which has never been seen before. At the time of his death on October 9, 1985, Mr. Welles was working on "The Other Side of the Wind," a film he had begun filming in the 1970s, about a famous filmmaker and his struggle to find financing for his film.
Orson Welles\' most commonly known, or celebrated work