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George Orson Welles

Male 1915 - 1985  (70 years)    Has 32 ancestors and one descendant in this family tree.

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  • Name George Orson Welles 
    Birth 6 May 1915 
    Gender Male 
    Prominent People USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Death 9 Oct 1985 
    Person ID I296065  Geneagraphie
    Links To This person is also Orson Welles at Wikipedia 
    Last Modified 9 Sep 2001 

    Father Richard H. Welles,   b. 1873   d. 1930 (Age 57 years) 
    Mother Beatrice Ives,   b. 1882   d. May 1924 (Age 42 years) 
    Family ID F118932  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Virginia Nicholson   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID F118933  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 8 Sep 2001 

    Family 2 Rita Hayworth,   b. 17 Oct 1918, Nursery and Child's Hospital, New York, USA Find all individuals with events at this locationd. 14 May 1987, Manhattan Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 68 years) 
    Marriage 7 Sep 1943 
    Divorce 1 Dec 1948 
     1. Living
    Family ID F118934  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 9 Sep 2001 

    Family 3 Paola Mori   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID F118935  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart
    Last Modified 8 Sep 2001 

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  • Notes 
    • Actor, director, producer and writer for radio, stage and film (including War of the Worlds, Native Son and Citizen Kane).

      Orson Welles's pioneering, influential cinema was imaginative, ambitious and technically daring. His baroque cinematic style created a dense moral universe in which every action had tangled—and usually tragic—human repercussions. Before his dramatic arrival in Hollywood, Welles had carved a considerable reputation in theater and radio. At 18 he was a successful actor at the experimental Gate Theatre in Ireland; at 19, he made his Broadway debut as Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet. A series of collaborations with director/producer John Houseman led to their participation in the New York Federal Theatre Project. Their first great success was Welles's staging of an all-black "voodoo" Macbeth, which demonstrated Welles's penchant for stretching existing forms beyond established limits. Welles and Houseman eventually formed their own repertory
      company, the Mercury Theatre, enjoying success with their 1937 production of Julius
      Caesar, which Welles rewrote and set in contemporary Fascist Italy.
      Soon Welles was also directing the Mercury players in weekly, hour-long radio dramas
      for CBS. Once again he stretched the medium, exploiting radio's intimacy to heighten
      narrative immediacy, most notoriously with the Halloween 1938 broadcast of H.G. Wells's
      War of the Worlds. Concocted news bulletins and eyewitness accounts were so
      authentic in "reporting" the landing of hostile Martians in New Jersey that the broadcast
      caused a panic among unsuspecting listeners. Seeking to capitalize on Welles's
      notoriety, RKO brought him to Hollywood to produce, direct, write and act in two films
      for $225,000 plus total creative freedom and a percentage of the profits. It was the most
      generous offer a Hollywood studio had ever made to an untested filmmaker.
      After several projects (among them an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness)
      came to naught, the 25 year-old Welles made what is generally described as the most
      stunning debut in the history of film. Initially called AMERICAN and later retitled
      CITIZEN KANE, Welles's film was a bold, brash and inspired tour de force that told its
      story from several different perspectives, recounting the rise and corruption of an
      American tycoon, Charles Foster Kane (modeled on publishing magnate William
      Randolph Hearst). With the brashness of someone new to Hollywood, Welles pushed
      existing filmmaking techniques as far as they would go, creating a new and distinctive
      film aesthetic.
      Among the innovative elements of Welles's style exhibited in CITIZEN KANE were: 1.
      composition in depth: the use of extreme deep focus cinematography to connect distant
      figures in space; 2. complex mise-en-scène, in which the frame overflowed with action
      and detail; 3. low-angle shots that revealed ceilings and made characters, especially
      Kane, seem simultaneously dominant and trapped; 4. long takes; 5. a fluid, moving
      camera that expanded the action beyond the frame and increased the importance of
      off-screen space; and 6. the creative use of sound as a transition device (Thatcher
      wishes a young Charles "Merry Christmas…" and completes the phrase "…and a Happy
      New Year" to a grown Charles years later) and to create visual metaphors (as in the opera
      montage where the image of the flickering backstage lamp combined with Susan Kane's
      faint singing and a whirring noise to symbolize her imminent breakdown and subsequent
      suicide attempt).
      Although well received by the critics, CITIZEN KANE faced distribution and exhibition
      problems exacerbated by Hearst's negative campaign, and it fared poorly at the box
      office. Welles's second film for RKO, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS (1942), an
      adaptation of Booth Tarkington's novel of the same name, was a more conventional, less
      flamboyant film that utilized many of the same techniques Welles had developed for
      KANE to evoke a richly textured recollection of turn-of-the-century America. But with
      Welles off to South America to shoot a semi-documentary (IT'S ALL TRUE, which was
      never completed by Welles himself) jointly sponsored by RKO and the US government,
      the studio severely edited the film, deleting 43 minutes. Even in its truncated form,
      AMBERSONS remains a dark, compelling look at nature of wealth, class and progress in
      America. Before he left for South America, Welles supervised the filming of JOURNEY
      INTO FEAR (1942), whose direction is credited to Norman Foster. Welles co-starred and
      co-wrote the screenplay with Joseph Cotten; the result was an intriguing but muddled
      thriller. When AMBERSONS proved a commercial failure, it was a blow from which
      Welles's reputation would never recover. Welles and the Mercury Players were
      dismissed from RKO. THE STRANGER (1946), produced by independent Sam Spiegel,
      had Welles directing himself as a Nazi war criminal hiding in a small town, but it was
      devoid of the characteristic Welles touch. He regained his filmmaking flair with THE
      LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1948), a stunning film noir in which Welles and his wife Rita
      Hayworth co-starred. (Already separated before the collaboration began, she filed for
      divorce once filming was completed.) The hall-of-mirrors finale is a superb example of
      Welles's gift for the audacious visual image.
      Welles's next film proved to be the first of an informal, impressive Shakespeare trilogy, an
      eccentric, atmospheric version of MACBETH (1948) in which the actors were encouraged
      to speak with thick Scottish burrs. Its centerpiece—a sequence that begins with
      Macbeth's decision to kill the king, includes the murder and ends with the discovery of
      the crime by Macduff—was captured in a single ten-minute take. The film, however, was
      not successful and was dismissed at the Venice Film Festival. Four years later, he
      answered his critics with a striking version of OTHELLO (1952), which won the Grand Prix
      at Cannes. The final film in the trilogy was the triumphant CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT
      (1966)/FALSTAFF which Welles, who by this time was of the correct girth to play
      Falstaff, fashioned from five of Shakespeare's historical plays. As a separate narrative,
      Falstaff's tale is a bitter one of deteriorating friendship passing from privilege to neglect.
      It ranks among Welles's greatest achievements.
      After the failure of MACBETH, Welles began a self-imposed, ten-year exile from
      Hollywood. His follow-up to OTHELLO, MR. ARKADIN (1955)/CONFIDENTIAL
      REPORT, was an acerbic profile of a powerful man that showed signs of the brilliance
      that marked KANE, but was hindered by an episodic narrative and spotty acting. Welles
      returned to Hollywood to act in and direct TOUCH OF EVIL (1958), a film noir
      masterpiece. From its stunning long-take opening of a car bombing to its tragic
      denouement, it reiterated his overarching vision of the world as an exacting moral
      network where each human act has endless and unforseen moral consequences. His
      adaptation of Kafka's novel of the same name, THE TRIAL (1963), a nightmarish
      extension of that vision, depicted a society completely devoid of a moral sense, where
      empty procedure replaced principle. THE IMMORTAL STORY (1968) was a satisfying,
      minor work made for French televison, an adaptation of an Isak Dinesen story. His final
      completed film, F FOR FAKE (1973), a diverting collage of documentary and staged
      footage that investigated the line separating reality and illusion, celebrated all
      tricksters—including its director, who sometimes stated that if he had not become a
      director, he would have been a magician.
      At the time of his death, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND, a project he had begun
      filming in the 1970s, remained unfinished. Obviously autobiographical, it was the story of
      a famous filmmaker (played by Welles's good friend, John Huston) struggling to find
      financing for his film, just as Welles was forced to do many times. As an unseen
      fragment, it was a sad and ironic end for a filmmaking maverick who set the standards for
      the modern narrative film and the man who was, in the words of Martin Scorsese,
      "responsible for inspiring more people to be film directors than anyone else in history of
      the cinema."

      - Baseline Film Enciclopaedia.

      His Life.

      Born George Orson Welles in Kenosha, Wisconsin, from Beatrice Ives Welles and
      Richard Head Welles en in the heart of a middle-class family; from his mother he inherited
      her musical talent which he displayed at the early age of five. Beatrice Welles died when
      she was fourty three being Welles only nine, this could mark him (although he always
      denied it) influencing his cinematographic work, more concretely characters like Mrs.
      Kane in Citizen Kane and Fanny Minafer in The Magnificient Ambersons, played both
      by Agnes Moorehead, and specially Isabel Amberson (Dolores Costello) and George
      Amberson (Tim Holt), his alleged alter-ego, in The Magnificient Ambersons. His first
      theatrical production ("Doctor Jekyll y Mr. Hyde") was directed, adapted and played by
      him when he was only 10, in Camp Indianola. The year after, 1926, a local paper publishes
      an article titled: "Ten year-old cartoonist, actor and poet" ;that same year he enters Todd
      School in Woodstock which headmaster will be in the future a great influence to young
      Welles. In this years his local theatrical "productions" for the school and womens' clubs
      are continous. In 1930 his father passes away. A year later Welles goes to Ireland where
      he plans to live from his drawings, there he enters a theatre company where he becomes
      profesional actor. In 1933 goes back to United States and later this year he travels to
      Spain where he lives writing noir tales for magazines in Seville and practices the art of
      bullfighting under the name of: "El Americano", fortunately he gives up that vocation
      due to his mediocrity. He comes back to New York where he start working in the theatre,
      the year after he starts his work in the radio, first anonimously, then in 1936 he joins
      permanently "The March of Time" (parodied in Citizen Kane), this year he opens his first
      own profesional theatrical production: a version of Macbeth with the an entirely black
      cast; from then his productions are constant and in 1937 he starts the radio series "The
      Shadow" which would be his first projection to popularity. That year has a capital
      importance in Welles life because along with John Houseman they found the Mercury
      Theatre formed among others by Joseph Cotten, George Colouris, Vincent Price (briefly
      in their begginings), Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane,... their first production was
      Caesar based in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare and numerous others (The Shoemaker's
      Holiday, Heartbreak House, Danton's Death,...) and radio broadcasts like The War Of The
      Worlds, The Magnificient Ambersons, Jane Eyre, Dracula, Rebecca, The Pickwick
      Papers, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Heart of Darkness. Because of the
      notoriety of the first RKO offers him a contract in 1939 to film two movies as director,
      producer and screenwriter with total artiscic freedom. In 1940 he starts the shooting of
      Citizen Kane with nearly the whole buch of the Mercury Theatre but he never leaves his
      continous theatrical productions. In 1943 during World War II and back from Brazi after
      the It's All True flop, the Mercury Theatre offers a touring variety show for the americal
      soldiers, aside from the habituals Welles, Cotten and Moorehead also joined the Mercury
      Marlene Dietrich (who was sawed in two by Welles) and briefly Rita Hayworth, marrying
      later Orson Welles and divorcing from him in 1947 after the shooting of The Lady From
      Shangai. In 1949 Welles emigrates to Europe where he spends the following three years
      working as an actor in other filmes to finance Othello, one of them would be the film that
      will make to rise even more the Welles myth: The Third Man, from 1951 he starts playing
      and frequently writting a radio series of 39 episodes based in his character in that film:
      the infamous Harry Lime. From one of that scripts will rise the plot of one of his better
      films, Mr. Arkadin, which will make Orson Welles to stablish a home in Madrid. In 1955
      he gets married for third time, in this ocasion to Paola Mori who also played a important
      role in Mr. Arkadin. In 1957 he comes back to Hollywood to film a new movie: Touch Of
      Evil but the film has no box-office success and he isn't able to make other film in United
      States until The Other Side of the Wind, which he will never be able to open. Orson
      Welles dies due to a heart attack on october 10, 1985 while he was typing some scene
      instructions for the material he intended to shoot later that day with Gary Graver, his
      habitual cinematographer in the last period of his life, for The Magic Show for UCLA
      University. His ashes are buried in Spain in a estate in the town of Ronda, Malaga, where
      he spent a summer when he was eighteen.

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