Orson Welles Facts

Orson Welles Facts
Orson Welles was an American film, radio, and theatre actor, director, writer and producer most well-known for his 1938 'The War of the Worlds' radio broadcast that became legendary for causing widespread panic when listeners thought the world was being invaded by aliens. He was born George Orson Welles, on May 6th, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to Beatrice Ives Welles and Richard Head Welles. Orson's parent's separated when he was 4 and he moved to Chicago where his mother played the piano during lectures at the Art Institute of Chicago to support them. His mother died when he was 9 and his father, who struggled with alcoholism, took him to travel in Jamaica and the Far East. When they returned Orson attended Todd Seminary for Boys where he developed an interest in theatre.
Interesting Orson Welles Facts:
Orson's father died when Orson was 15, due to his alcoholism and heart and kidney failure. Orson then lived with Maurice Bernstein, a doctor and friend of his father.
Orson received a scholarship to attend Harvard University after graduating from Todd Seminary in 1931. He chose to travel instead and left for Europe.
While in Dublin, Ireland, Orson Welles entered Gate Theatre and claimed to be a star on Broadway in NYC. The manager did not believe Orson's story but was impressed enough by his audition that he gave him a role on stage.
Orson returned to the Todd school and began a writing project - a series of books called Everybody's Shakespeare. This took him to North Africa to work on thousands of illustrations.
Orson met Thornton Wilder in 1933 at a party in Chicago and was then sent to NYC to meet Katharine Cornell whose husband subsequently signed Orson to a contract to perform in plays.
Orson landed his first radio job in 1934.
Orson married Virginia Nicolson in 1934.
Orson Welles was earning up to $2000 a week between 1935 and 1937, working between different radio studios.
The radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds, which Orson Welles directed and narrated on October 30th, 1938, made him instantly famous. Listeners that missed the introduction thought they were listening to a news broadcast and thought the world was being invaded by extraterrestrials.
RKO Pictures offered Orson Welles an unheard-of contract in 1939 which allowed him total control as a filmmaker and actor for two films. Hollywood studios resented the contract.
Orson Welles co-wrote, directed, and produce the film Citizen Kane, and despite immense pressure from the Hollywood film community to destroy the film, it was released and gained great praise. The National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle named it the best picture of 1941.
Orson Welles went on to have a highly successful film, theatre, and radio career. He won many awards including the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for Citizen Kane.
Orson Welles enjoyed scotch and steak and was reportedly 350 pounds by the time he died in 1985 at the age of 70. He had been married three times and had three children.


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