Orson Welles

American actor and filmmaker (1915–1985) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American actor, director, screenwriter, and producer who is remembered for his innovative work in film, radio, and theatre. He is considered to be among the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time.[1]

Quick facts: Orson Welles, Born, Died, Resting place, Occu...
Orson Welles
Welles in 1937, photographed by Carl Van Vechten
George Orson Welles

(1915-05-06)May 6, 1915
DiedOctober 10, 1985(1985-10-10) (aged 70)
Resting placeRonda, Andalusia, Spain
  • Actor
  • director
  • screenwriter
  • producer
Years active1931–1985
Notable work
Political partyDemocratic
Children3, including Beatrice

At age 21, Welles was directing high-profile stage productions for the Federal Theatre Project in New York City—starting with a celebrated 1936 adaptation of Macbeth with an African-American cast, and ending with the controversial labor opera The Cradle Will Rock in 1937. He and John Houseman then founded the Mercury Theatre, an independent repertory theatre company that presented a series of productions on Broadway through 1941, including a modern, politically charged Caesar (1937). In 1938, his radio anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air gave Welles the platform to find international fame as the director and narrator of a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds, which caused some listeners to believe that a Martian invasion was in fact occurring. Although reports of panic were mostly false and overstated,[2] they rocketed 23-year-old Welles to notoriety.

His first film was Citizen Kane (1941), which he co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in as the title character, Charles Foster Kane. It has been consistently ranked as one of the greatest films ever made. He directed twelve other features, the most acclaimed of which include The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Stranger (1946), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1962), Chimes at Midnight (1966) and F for Fake (1973).[3][4] Welles also starred in films such as Jane Eyre (1943), The Third Man (1949), and A Man for All Seasons (1966).

His distinctive directorial style featured layered and nonlinear narrative forms, dramatic lighting, unusual camera angles, sound techniques borrowed from radio, deep focus shots and long takes. He has been praised as "the ultimate auteur".[5]:6 Welles was an outsider to the studio system and struggled for creative control on his projects early on with the major film studios in Hollywood and later in life with a variety of independent financiers across Europe, where he spent most of his career. Many of his films were either heavily edited or remained unreleased.

Welles received an Academy Award and three Grammy Awards among other numerous honors such as Academy Honorary Award in 1970, the Golden Lion in 1970, the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1975, and the British Film Institute Fellowship in 1983. In 2002, he was voted the greatest film director of all time in two British Film Institute polls among directors and critics.[6][7] In 2018, he was included in the list of the 50 greatest Hollywood actors of all time by The Daily Telegraph.[8] Welles had three marriages, including one with Rita Hayworth, and three children.