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Overview for Orson Welles
Orson Welles

Orson Welles


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Recent DVDs

Macbeth (Olive... Something wicked this way comes in Orson Welles' cinematic retelling of William... more info $24.95was $34.95 Buy Now

MacBeth ... Orson Welles dark and moody screen version of the classic William Shakespeare... more info $21.95was $29.95 Buy Now

Citizen Kane... 1940. Alone at his fantastic estate known as Xanadu, 70-year-old Charles Foster... more info $10.95was $14.98 Buy Now

Citizen Kane ... ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION. Orson Welles' masterwork (#1 in the American Film... more info $40.95was $49.98 Buy Now

Tomorrow Is... Claudette Colbert, Orson Welles, George Brent and Natalie Wood star in this... more info $11.45was $19.95 Buy Now

The Tartars ... Blood will beget blood. Viking chief Oleg (Victor Mature) slays a leader of the... more info $14.36was $17.99 Buy Now

Also Known As: George Orson Welles Died: October 9, 1985
Born: May 6, 1915 Cause of Death: heart attack
Birth Place: Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA Profession: Cast ... actor screenwriter director producer author vaudevillian


lles ¿ who by this time was of proper girth to play Falstaff ¿ fashioned together from five of Shakespeare's historical plays: Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V and Richard II. Hailed internationally and even held in the highest regard by the filmmaker himself, "The Trial" ranked among Welles¿ finest achievements.

While he continued to appear onscreen in a variety of roles ¿ playing Cardinal Wolsey in "A Man for All Seasons" (1966), criminal mastermind Le Chiffre in the farcical "Casino Royale" (1967), and the blind prophet Tiresias in "Oedipus the King" (1968) ¿ Welles struggled to make his own films, leaving a trail of projects in various unfinished stages behind. He turned to French television for his next directing effort, "The Immortal Story" (1968) a satisfying minor work that was an adaptation of an Isak Dinesen story. His final completed film, "F for Fake" (1973), was a diverting collage of documentary and staged footage that investigated the line separating reality and illusion. Originally blasted by critics for being self-indulgent, "Fake" gained prominence over time as one of his most celebrated works, thanks in part to a key endorsement from filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. In fact, Welles ¿ who was once interviewed by Bogdanovich for the American Film Institute ¿ took the young director of "The Last Picture Show" (1971) under his wing and served as his mentor. In return, Bogdanovich let Welles stay in his mansion when the older director was down on hard times.

While struggling with numerous health ailments brought on by his obesity ¿ at times he topped 400 pounds ¿ Welles continued and often aborted film projects, though he did manage to finish "Filming Othello" (1979), a documentary he made about making his 1952 film. Turning to television commercials in the late 1970s, Welles famously served as the spokesman for Paul Masson wine, whose catchphrase "We will sell no wine before its time" captured the public¿s imagination in a variety of TV and print ads. Following a supporting turn as J.P. Morgan in the biopic "The Secret of Nikola Tesla" (1979), he narrated the Nostradamus documentary "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow" (1981) before briefly serving as the voice of the unseen Robin Masters on Tom Selleck¿s hit series "Magnum, P.I." (CBS, 1980-88) and appearing as himself in a special film noir-inspired episode of the offbeat series, "Moonlighting" (ABC, 1985-98). On Oct. 10, 1985, Welles appeared on "The Merv Griffin Show" (NBC/CBS/syndicated, 1962-1986) to conduct what turned out to be his final interview. Welles was upbeat, jovial and uncharacteristically forthcoming with Griffin, who had interviewed him many times previously, though he remained fairly tightlipped concerning his many alleged conquests with women. Two hours after filming the interview, Welles suffered a heart attack in his Los Angeles home. He was 70. At the time of his death, "The Other Side of the Wind," a project he had begun filming in the 1970s, remained unfinished. Obviously autobiographical, it was the story of a famous filmmaker (John Huston) struggling to find financing for his film, just as Welles was forced to do many times. As an unseen fragment, it was a sad and ironic end for a filmmaking maverick who was, in the words of Martin Scorsese, "responsible for inspiring more people to be film directors than anyone else in history of the cinema."

By Shawn Dwyer

ter, Rebecca Welles. Professionally, he augmented his career by turning more to acting, playing Edward Rochester opposite Joan Fontaine as the titular "Jane Eyre" (1944). He returned to the director¿s chair for "The Stranger" (1946), a film noir from independent producer Sam Spiegel, which starred Welles as a Nazi war criminal hiding out in a small town as a college professor, only to find his cover blown by an unassuming antiques dealer (Edward G. Robison). Though well received by critics and his only box office success upon release, "The Stranger" was devoid of his characteristic touch and was regarded as his most traditional Hollywood fare. He reinvigorated his filmmaking flair with "The Lady from Shanghai" (1948), a stunning film noir in which Welles starred opposite his now estranged wife. His rumored infidelities over the years with such lovers as Marlene Dietrich had caused fissures in the relationship, which only exacerbated Hayworth¿s already crippling insecurities. A confident man, Welles simply could not understand nor comfort Hayworth ¿ let alone face his part in adding to her insecurities in the first place. The couple had already separated before the collaboration began, with the actress filing for divorce once filming was completed. The couple divorced in 1947. As for the picture itself, the disjointed film noir divided critics at the time and ignited the ire of producer and Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn, who hated the movie mainly because Welles had the audacity to chop off and bleach his biggest star¿s most famous asset: Hayworth¿s flowing red hair. The film¿s standing improved over time, with its famed hall-of-mirrors finale marking a superb example of Welles' gift for audacious visual images.

Welles moved on to direct an informal and impressive Shakespeare trilogy, which was started by an eccentric, atmospheric version of "Macbeth" (1948), in which he played the title role and encouraged his actors to speak with thick Scottish burrs. Its centerpiece ¿ a sequence that began with Macbeth's decision to kill the king, followed by the murder and ending with the discovery of the crime by Macduff (Dan O¿Herlihy) ¿ was captured in a single 10-minute take. The film, however, proved unsuccessful and was dismissed at the Venice Film Festival. After the film¿s failure, Welles began a self-imposed, 10-year exile from Hollywood. Four years later, he tried to answer critics with a striking version of "Othello" (1952), which won the Palm d¿Or at the Cannes Film Festival, though again his film was largely ignored in the United States. In between those films, Welles appeared onscreen in a number of movies, most notably "The Third Man" (1949), a Cold War film noir in which he played the enigmatic Harry Lime, who fakes his death to hide criminal activities which are uncovered by his unsuspecting, longtime friend (Joseph Cotten). Hailed as a masterpiece in film noir, "The Third Man" offered one of Welles most remembered performances outside of his own work. Meanwhile, Welles followed up "Othello" with "Mr. Arkadin " (1955), an acerbic profile of a powerful man (Welles) that showed signs of the brilliance that marked "Citizen Kane," but was hindered by an episodic narrative and spotty acting.

Welles returned to Hollywood to direct and act in "Touch of Evil" (1958), a film noir masterpiece that starred Charlton Heston as a Mexican police officer getting framed for a border murder by his American counterpart (Welles). From its stunning long-take opening of a car bombing to its tragic denouement, "Touch of Evil" reiterated the director¿s overarching vision of the world as an exacting moral network where each human act has endless and unforeseen moral consequences. One of the last made in the classic film noir period, the film stood the test of time as one of the genre¿s very best. After a supporting role in John Huston¿s adventure drama "The Roots of Heaven" (1958) and a leading performance in "Compulsion" (1959), which was based on the famed Leopold and Loeb murder, Welles adapted Franz Kafka¿s novel, "The Trial" (1962), a nightmarish extension of the author¿s vision of a society completely devoid of a moral sense. But once again, his film floundered upon release, only this time critics remained polarized on its merits even decades later when his most dismissed work was seen in more sympathetic light. Meanwhile, he directed the final film in his unofficial Shakespeare trilogy, "Chimes at Midnight/Falstaff" (1966), which We


Suue ( 2008-04-04 )

Source: not available

Daughter Rebecca Welles died 10/17/2004 in Tacoma Wa

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