Orson Welles





5/6/1915 , Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA



Birth Name

George Orson Wells




One of the most extraordinary figures in the arts in the twentieth century, Orson Welles was being hailed as a genius before he was even a teenager. He began his career as a professional actor at age 16 (in Ireland), published his first book at 18, was a Broadway name at 19, and one of the most familiar voices on radio by 20. His first stage directing credit in New York came at age 21 (he had already directed in Ireland) and he began directing and writing for radio in the same period. This list of achievements does not, however, convey the sensational success (and often considerable controversy) of his multifarious ventures. By the time he went to Hollywood in 1939, he was one of the most famous and admired men in America; he was also an outspoken liberal, a busy lecturer and a widely-read newspaper columnist. His first film, "Citizen Kane" (1941) - which he co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in - is still usually described as the best film ever made. He was never to know such unambiguous success again. Most of his later films were subjected to interference by crass producers and studios, his stage ventures grew fewer in number (he never worked in the theatre after 1960) and the man himself was frequently short of money, as he financed his own projects personally when he couldn't persuade film companies to back him. None of these misfortunes seemed to daunt his unquenchable spirit. He acted on television for the first time in 1953, when he played King Lear under the direction of Peter Brook. Mostly, TV used him as a fascinating guest on innumerable talk shows or as a voice narrating documentaries or commercials; he did front a fascinating British series in the mid-50s, "The Orson Welles Scrapbook", and was, in 1973-4, host of a short-lived anthology drama series, "Great Mysteries".