Resource id #75
Image Source: Wikipedia

Orson Welles

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.

While in his 20s, Welles directed high-profile stage productions for the Federal Theatre Project, including an adaptation of Macbeth with an entirely African-American cast and the political musical The Cradle Will Rock. In 1937, he and John Houseman founded the Mercury Theatre, an independent repertory theatre company that presented a series of productions on Broadway through 1941, including Caesar (1937), a modern, politically charged adaptation of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

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, they rocketed 23-year-old Welles to notoriety.

His first film was Citizen Kane (1941), which is consistently ranked as one of the greatest films ever made and which he co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in as the title character, Charles Foster Kane. Welles released twelve other features, the most acclaimed of which include The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Lady from Shanghai (1947), Touch of Evil (1958), The Trial (1962), Chimes at Midnight (1966) and F for Fake (1973). 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. David Thomson credits Welles with "the creation of a visual style that is simultaneously baroque and precise, overwhelmingly emotional, and unerringly founded in reality." He has been praised as "the ultimate auteur".: 6  Among Welles's notable roles in films by other directors are Rochester in Jane Eyre (1943), Harry Lime in The Third Man (1949) and Cardinal Wolsey in A Man for All Seasons (1966). Welles was a lifelong lover of Shakespeare, and Peter Bogdanovich writes that Chimes at Midnight, in which Welles plays John Falstaff, is "arguably his best film, and his own personal favorite"; Joseph McBride and Jonathan Rosenbaum have called it Welles's masterpiece, and Vincent Canby wrote "it may be the greatest Shakespearean film ever made."

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; after Welles went to South America to film the documentary It's All True, RKO cut more than forty minutes from Ambersons and added a happier ending, against his wishes. The missing footage from Ambersons has been called a "holy grail" of cinema. Welles wrote a 58-page memo to Universal about the editing of Touch of Evil, which they disregarded. In 1998, Walter Murch reedited the film according to Welles's specifications. With a development spanning almost 50 years, Welles's final film, The Other Side of the Wind, was posthumously released in 2018.

Welles had three marriages, including one with Rita Hayworth, and three children. Known for his baritone voice, Welles performed extensively across theatre, radio, and film. He was a lifelong magician, noted for presenting troop variety shows in the war years. He was a lifelong member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. In 2002, he was voted the greatest film director of all time in two British Film Institute polls among directors and critics. In 2018, he was included in the list of the 50 greatest Hollywood actors of all time by The Daily Telegraph. Micheál Mac Liammóir, who played Iago in Welles's Othello, said "Orson's courage, like everything else about him, imagination, egotism, generosity, ruthlessness, forbearance, impatience, sensitivity, grossness and vision is magnificently out of proportion."

Birth and Death Data: Born May 6, 1915 (Kenosha), Died October 10, 1985 (Los Angeles)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1944 - 1945

Roles Represented in DAHR: speaker, director, narrator

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 36 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 72426 10-in. 10/12/1944 Abraham Lincoln Orson Welles narrator  
Decca L 3544 12-in. 8/23/1944 The song of songs (from the Bible) : Part 1 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3545 10-in. 8/23/1944 The song of songs (from the Bible) : Part 2 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3561 12-in. 8/30/1944 Emile Zola: Truth and justice cost too dear Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3562 12-in. 8/30/1944 Carnot: The new world teaches the old Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3563 10-in. 8/30/1944 Churchill's speech, part 1 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3564 10-in. 8/30/1944 Churchill's speech, part 2 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3565 12-in. 8/31/1944 F. D. Roosevelt: First war address: Part 1 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3566 12-in. 8/31/1944 F. D. Roosevelt: First war address: Part 2 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3567 Not documented 8/31/1944 Our country's call Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3568 12-in. 8/31/1944 Pericles: The world is their sepulchre Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3569 12-in. 8/31/1944 Lincoln's Gettysburg address Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3587 12-in. 9/8/1944 Patrick Henry—Liberty or death : Part 1 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3588 12-in. 9/8/1944 Patrick Henry—Liberty or death : Part 2 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3591 12-in. 9/9/1944 John Brown: In behalf of his despised poor Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3592 12-in. 9/9/1944 Thomas Jefferson-First Inaugural address: Part 1 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3593 12-in. 9/9/1944 Thomas Jefferson-First Inaugual address: Part 2 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3594 12-in. 9/11/1944 Thomas Payne: Tyranny is not easily conquered Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3595 Not documented 9/11/1944 Woodrow Wilson Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3596 12-in. 9/13/1944 Daniel Webster: Liberty and union. now and forever Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3717 Not documented 1/5/1945 Giuseppe Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3718 Not documented 1/5/1945 Woodrow Wilson Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3719 Not documented 1/15/1945 John Donne: For whom the bell tolls Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3812 10-in. 4/25/1945 Dumbarton Oaks, part 1 Orson Welles speaker  
Decca L 3813 Not documented 4/25/1945 Dumbarton Oaks, part 2 Orson Welles speaker  
(Results 1-25 of 36 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Welles, Orson," accessed April 22, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/210866.

Welles, Orson. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/210866.

"Welles, Orson." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 22 April 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/210866

Wikipedia content provided under the terms of the Creative Commons BY-SA license

Feedback

Send the Editors a message about this record.