- Welles, Orson
- (1915-1985)The theater, cinema, and radio actor, producer, director, and screenwriter was born George Orson Welles in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but grew up in Chicago. He was orphaned at the age of 15 and raised by his stepfather. Welles trained at the Art Institute in Chicago and spent some time touring Ireland, Spain, and Morocco. His first stage appearance was in Dublin in 1931. After his return to the United States in 1933, he worked in the New York Theater and from 1936 was employed by the Federal Theater Project, where he produced a memorable all-black Macbeth at the American Negro Peoples’ Theater in Harlem. He left in 1937 and with John Houseman established the Mercury Theater and produced a contemporary production of Julius Caesar. Welles was also acting and writing for radio for CBS. The network gave him a weekly show, the “Mercury Theater on the Air.” On 30 October 1938, they performed War of the Worlds as a news report of a Martian invasion that was so realistic many listeners believed it was a real event and panicked.In 1939, Welles began working in Hollywood for RKO Radio Pictures, and in 1941 he directed and starred in Citizen Kane, loosely based on the life of William Randolph Hearst. It is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. The following year he directed a second much-admired movie, The Magnificent Ambersons, followed by Journey into Fear, which he cowrote, directed, and played a leading role for. Welles made several other films in the 1940s, including Jane Eyre (1943), The Stranger (1946) starring Edward G. Robinson, and Lady from Shanghai (1947) with Rita Hayworth. In 1948, Welles made a low-budget film version of Macbeth and then Othello in 1951, which was released in the United States in 1955. In the late 1940s, Welles spent most of his time in Europe, perhaps to escape McCarthyism. He was among those listed in Red Channels in 1950. In 1949, he directed and appeared in The Third Man. In 1958, he returned to the United States to direct and act in A Touch of Evil, regarded as another film classic. He also made the well-received version of Kafka’s The Trial in 1963 and played the role of Falstaff in The Chimes of Midnight in 1966. Welles made his last film, F for Fake, in 1975, and that year he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute. He is regarded as one of America’s greatest filmmakers.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.