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Orson Welles . Biography . Born George Orson Welles on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin He was the second of his parents two children; the oldest was Richard Ives Welles Jr. He was raised as a Roman Catholic but didn’t consider himself as religious

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Born George Orson Welles on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin

He was the second of his parents two children; the oldest was Richard Ives Welles Jr.

He was raised as a Roman Catholic but didn’t consider himself as religious

Rough childhood; parents split at the age of four; mother died a few days after his ninth birthday and his father died when he was 15

He was a multimedia man; he was a writer, producer, and a director

honey i m home
Honey I’m Home!

Orson Welles was married a total of three times and had 3 children with each wife. His first wife was Virginia Nicolson; second, Dolores del Rio; and third, Rita Hayworth. His only known son is named Michael-Lindsay Hogg, who is also a film director. Orson divorced twice due to a number of current affairs. This caused the split between him and last wife, italian actress Paola Mori, but they never divorced. For the last 19 years of his life, Welles spent his life with Croatian actress, OjaKodar.

early life
Early Life

Attended Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois where he excelled in his studies

Awarded a scholarship to Harvard University but denied it

At the age of 16, he decided he would take a quick tour of Dublin, Ireland where he came across their Gate Theatre. He admired the atmosphere of the theatre and immediately saw his self in one of their leading plays. His visit marked the start of his career in the film making industry.

emerging talent
Emerging Talent

Welles auditioned for Jew Suss and critics were impressed by his performance which won him a leading role in the play. He quickly became a favorite of the company which led him into playing the roles of Cldaius and the Ghost in Hamlet. Soon his performance onstage began to fall off and he decided to return to Illinois. At the end his career at the Gate Theatre, he acted in a number of five plays including Jew Suss, Hamlet, Death Takes a Holiday, The Dead Ride Fast and Czar Paul.

early career
Early Career

He returned to Todd School for Boys to work on a writing project called Everybody’s Shakespeare which was an adaptation for the school’s Shakespeare productions. His work attracted film producer, John Houseman, and they eventually collaborated to create The Mercury Theatre which was an adaptation from the radio series The Mercury Theatre on Air (radio drama). Together they produced The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1938), The Green Goddess (1939), and Native Son (1941). What made these plays strikingly unique was that the cast was African-American which wasn’t popular in the early 1900’s due to the racism in America.

first success
First Success

Citizen Kane

Release date: 1941

Plot: Tells the story of a lonely, wealthy media proprietor (played by Orson Welles himself) who lives in this vast estate. Suddenly, he dies in his sleep while holding a snow globe. News on the death spread around quick; the focus of the story is then shifted to newsreel reporter Jerry Thompson, who carries out a mission to learn more about Kane’s private life.


citizen kane continued
Citizen Kane (Continued)
  • Citizen Kane was Welles’ biggest success; it received critical praise for its remarkable performances, cinematic, and narrative technique
  • One of Welles’ controversial films because it appeared to poke fun at the life of William Randolph Hearst
  • Box Office earnings: $800,000
second success
Second Success

The Magnificent Ambersons

Release date: 1942

Plot: The Magnificent Ambersons sets in the early 1900’s with a upper class, Indianapolis family. Told through the eyes of Major Amberson, Major witnesses how his grandson, George Amberson, has to struggle to support his familly in the midst of financial debt.


third success
Third Success

Journey into Fear

Release date: 1943

Plot: Based on the Eric Ambler novel of the same name, Journey into Fear tells the story of a U.S Navy engineer who learns that Nazi’s are out to capture and kill him .


fourth success
Fourth Success

The Lady from Shanghai

Release date: 1947

Plot: Tells the story of Michael O’Hara (Orson Welles), who rescues this beautiful woman named Elsa (Rita Hayworth) from being attacked by Hooligans. As he escorts Elsa home, he reveals to her that he is a skilled seaman and he learns that her husband, Arthur Bannister, is a criminal defense attorney. Despite his doubts about Elsa’s character, he agrees to work as a seaman on Bannister’s yacht where he finds himself in the middle of a murder plot.


fifth success
Fifth Success

Touch of Evil

Release date: 1958

Plot: Starring, Psycho actress Janet Leigh, Touch of Evil tells the story of Miguel Vargas, a drug enforcement offcicial, and his wife who travel along the U.S-Mexico border when they witness an exploding vehicle. Miguel realizes the threat of a bomb exploding on American soil and takes interest in further investigation.


style tone
  • Mainly a film noir director, Welles also directed drama and crime films
  • Most of the films were centered on the rise and fall of the characters
  • He is known for his use of low camera angles, tracking shots, deep focus, and crane shots
and the winner is
And the Winner is…

1942: Won Oscar for Best Writing and Best Director in Citizen Kane

Won BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Televison Arts) for best foreign actor in Chimes at Midnight

Won Golden Globe Awarded for Best Motion picture Actor in a supporting Role in Butterfly (1982).

Won Fantasporto Award for Best Film in Othello

a sad farewelles
A sad Farewelles

Throughout Orson’s life, he struggled with diabetes and he was also under treatment from heart ailment. On October 10, 1985, Welles was on his way home from an interview to work on a new film script. A couple hours later he was found hunched over on his typewriter when he was announced dead.

  • “I’m not very fond of movies. I don’t go to them much”
  • “I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts”
  • “I don’t pray because I don’t want to bore God”
  • “A good artist should be isolated. If he isn’t, something is wrong”
fun facts
Fun Facts
  • Welles once ate 18 hot dogs in one while sitting at famous hot dog stand, Pinks
  • He was born on the same date Babe Ruth hit his very first home run
  • Had a passion for painting
  • Played the voice of Unicron on Transformers: The Movie