Orson Welles

Broadcaster + Director + Actor
Born May 6, 1915

George Orson Welles was an American actor, director, writer and producer who worked extensively in theater, radio and film.

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1915 Birth George Orson Welles was born May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, son of Richard Head Welles (b. … Read More
1919 4 Years Old Despite his family's affluence, Welles encountered hardship in childhood. His parents separated and moved to Chicago in 1919. … Read More
1924 9 Years Old Beatrice died of hepatitis in a Chicago hospital May 10, 1924, aged 42, just after Welles's ninth birthday. The Gordon String Quartet, which had made its first appearance at her home in 1921, played at Beatrice's funeral. … Read More


1926 - 1930 2 More Events
1931 16 Years Old 1 More Event
Following graduation from Todd in May 1931, Welles was awarded a scholarship to Harvard University, while his mentor Roger Hill advocated he attend Cornell College in Iowa. … Read More
1932 17 Years Old In March 1932 Welles performed in W. … Read More
1933 18 Years Old In 1933, Roger and Hortense Hill invited Welles to a party in Chicago, where Welles met Thornton Wilder. … Read More
In 1934, Welles got his first job on radio—on The American School of the Air—through actor-director Paul Stewart, who introduced him to director Knowles Entrikin. … Read More


1935 - 1936 4 More Events
In 1937, Welles rehearsed Marc Blitzstein's political operetta, The Cradle Will Rock. … Read More
Such was the success of the Mercury Theatre that Welles appeared on the cover of Time magazine, in full makeup as Captain Shotover in Heartbreak House, in the issue dated May 9, 1938—three days after his 23rd birthday.
1939 24 Years Old 1 More Event
…  After signing a summary agreement with RKO on July 22, Welles signed a full-length 63-page contract August 21, 1939. … Read More
In July 1941, Welles conceived It's All True as an omnibus film mixing documentary and docufiction in a project that emphasized the dignity of labor and celebrated the cultural and ethnic diversity of North America. … Read More
Required to film the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro in early February 1942, Welles rushed to edit The Magnificent Ambersons and finish his acting scenes in Journey into Fear. … Read More
In early 1943, the two concurrent radio series (Ceiling Unlimited, Hello Americans) that Orson Welles created for CBS to support the war effort had ended.
A half-hour variety show broadcast January 26 – July 19, 1944, on the Columbia Pacific Network, The Orson Welles Almanac presented sketch comedy, magic, mindreading, music and readings from classic works. … Read More


…  Welles was an advisor and correspondent for the Blue-ABC radio network's coverage of the San Francisco conference that formed the UN, taking place April 24 – June 23, 1945. … Read More
In the summer of 1946, Welles moved to New York to direct the Broadway musical Around the World, a stage adaptation of the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days with a book by Welles and music by Cole Porter. … Read More
1947 - 1952 6 More Events
1953 38 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1953, the BBC hired Welles to read an hour of selections from Walt Whitman's epic poem Song of Myself. … Read More


1955 40 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1955, Welles also directed two television series for the BBC. … Read More
1956 41 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1956, Welles completed Portrait of Gina. … Read More
1957 - 1961 5 More Events
1962 47 Years Old In 1962, Welles directed his adaptation of The Trial, based on the novel by Franz Kafka and produced by Michael and Alexander Salkind. … Read More


1966 - 1968 4 More Events
In 1969 Welles called again the Film Editor Frederick Muller to work with him re-editing the material and they set up cutting rooms at the Safa Palatino Studios in Rome. … Read More
Drawn by the numerous offers he received to work in television and films, and upset by a tabloid scandal reporting his affair with Kodar, Welles abandoned the editing of Don Quixote and moved back to America in 1970. … Read More
1971 - 1972 2 More Events
In 1973, Welles completed F for Fake, a personal essay film about art forger Elmyr de Hory and the biographer Clifford Irving. … Read More


1975 - 1977 4 More Events
1979 64 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1979, Welles completed his documentary Filming Othello, which featured Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards. … Read More
1981 66 Years Old In 1981, Welles hosted the documentary The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, about Renaissance-era prophet Nostradamus.
In 1982, the BBC broadcast The Orson Welles Story in the Arena series. … Read More
1983 68 Years Old "During a White House dinner," Welles recalled in a 1983 conversation with his friend Roger Hill, "when I was campaigning for Roosevelt, in a toast, with considerable tongue in cheek, he said, 'Orson, you and I are the two greatest actors alive today'. … Read More
…  As presented by Charles Higham in a genealogical chart that introduces his 1985 biography of Welles, Orson Welles's father was Richard Head Welles (born Wells), son of Richard Jones Wells, son of Henry Hill Wells (who had an uncle named Gideon Wells), son of William Hill Wells, son of Richard Wells (1734–1801). … Read More
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