Orson Welles Headshot

Orson Welles

Date of Death: October 10, 1985 (70)

Birth Place: Kenosha, WI, USA

Get Orson Welles Email Alerts

Be the first to get news, photos, videos & more.

Orson Welles BIO

George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American director, actor, writer, producer, and magician 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.



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. The event 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). Welles also had roles in other directors' films, notably Rochester in Jane Eyre (1943), Harry Lime in The Third Man (1949), and Cardinal Wolsey in 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".: 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 the 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. In 2018, he was included in the list of the 50 greatest Hollywood actors of all time by The Daily Telegraph. Welles had three marriages, including one with Rita Hayworth, and three children.

Orson Welles STAGE CREDITS

[Broadway]
Original Broadway Production, 1946
Dick Fix <i>(a Copper's Knark)</i>

Dick Fix

[Broadway]
1938
St. Just

[Broadway]
1938
Captain Shotover

[Broadway]
1937
Marcus Brutus

[Broadway]
1937
Faustus

[Broadway]
1936
Andre

[Broadway]
1935
McGafferty

[Broadway]
1934
Tybalt

Chorus

Orson Welles Productions

 
[Broadway, 1946]
Director
Producer
 
[Broadway, 1942]
Director
 
[Broadway, 1941]
Director
Producer
 
[Broadway, 1938]
Director
Producer
 
[Broadway, 1938]
Director
Producer
 
[Broadway, 1938]
Director
Producer
 
[Broadway, 1937]
Director
Producer
 
[Broadway, 1937]
Director
 
[Broadway, 1936]
Director
 
[Broadway, 1936]
Director

Writing

Playwright

Orson Welles Videos

Orson Welles News


MALACHAI STOUT'S FAMILY REUNION RADIO SHOW At Perkins Center for the Arts

Radio show whodunnit blends murder mystery parlor game and old-time radio for old-fashioned family fun.
IN Series Opera Announces 2024-25 Season ILLICIT OPERA Featuring Four Productions

IN SERIES OPERA's 2024-25 season, titled 'Illicit Opera,' will feature four productions exploring themes of forbidden love, power, and societal norms.
WELLS AND WELLES Comes to City Lit Theater in July

The world premiere play WELLS AND WELLES by Chicago playwright Amy Crider imagines what might have been said in a private meeting between these two pioneers of literature and the arts.
Edinburgh International Film Festival Announces Collaboration With Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The newly relaunched Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) has announced a landmark collaboration with the renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe which will open up the Film Festival programme in new venues across the city including non-traditional cinema spaces at Summerhall and the heart of the Fringe footprint.
Video: Watch Recovered Footage of Young Orson Welles in Shakespeare's TWELFTH NIGHT

Wellesnet has just uncovered vintage video footage of stage and screen legend Orson Welles at the ripe age of 17. Check out footage from a dress rehearsal for a production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night in 1933.
25th Anniversary Production Of ORSON'S SHADOW Comes to Theatre For the New City

From March 14 to 31, Theater for the New City (TNC), in association with Oberon Theatre Ensemble and Strindberg Rep, will present the 25th Anniversary presentation of 'Orson's Shadow' by Austin Pendleton, directed by the author.
USM Theatre Kicks Off First-Ever Radio Theatre Production in March

The War of the Worlds: The 1938 Radio Script by Howard E. Koch will be the first radio theatre produced in University of Southern Maine Department of Theatre’s new audio studio.
Restored Orson Welles' Classic THE STRANGER To Be Screened At The Park Theatre

The Stranger screens at The Park Theatre in Jaffrey, New Hampshire for one time on Friday, February, 23rd at 7pm.
Porchlight shares Cast and Creative Team for PORCHLIGHT IN CONCERT: SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE

Award-winning Porchlight Music Theatre has revealed the cast and production team for Porchlight in Concert: Sunday in the Park with George.
Streaming Review: Bradley Cooper's Latest Director Endeavor Comes To NETFLIX & Shows He, Too, Is Becoming A MAESTRO

In all, Maestro is the fast-paced chronicle of a giant living a giant life, as told through a love (or love-ish) story
HIROSHI-ME-ME-ME by Natalie Menna to be Presented at Theater for the New City This Month

HIROSHI-ME-ME-ME, written by Natalie Menna, is coming to Theater for the New City this month. Learn how to purchase tickets!
OUR BORN-THIS-MONTH FEATURE FOR JANUARY SALUTES... GUESS WHO!

Every month, we take a moment to honor someone among those having a birthday that month who has made a real mark in the entertainment world .  January's birthday salute goes to a sensation on the stages of theatres and cabaret. With a click, you can see who it is and then see how much you know about their by taking our multiple-choice quiz.
ACW-TV's JAY WATCH Returns For A Second Season

ACW-TV’s JAY WATCH returns for a second season, celebrating the Golden Age of Television with classic episodes of iconic shows like The Lucy Show, Burns & Allen, and Dick Van Dyke.
Sean Allan Krill And Kathy Voytko To Star In PORCHLIGHT IN CONCERT: SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE

Broadway's Sean Allan Krill and Kathy Voytko will star in Porchlight in Concert: Sunday in the Park with George. Tickets go on sale on Dec. 5 at 12 p.m.
Princess Diana Engagement Photo, Audrey Hepburn's CHARADE Coat, and More Heading to Julien's Auctions

Find out what's headed to auction with “JULIEN'S AUCTIONS AND TCM PRESENT: HOLLYWOOD LEGENDS” taking place Thursday, December 14th, Friday, December 15th, Saturday, December 16th and Sunday, December 17th in Beverly Hills and online here!
Connecticut Repertory Theatre to Present WAR OF THE WORLDS at The Nafe Katter Theatre

Connecticut Repertory Theatre will present 'War of the Worlds 2023: A Servant of Two Networks' from November 30 to December 10, 2023. Join them for the world premiere of this exciting play conceived and directed by Jaron Hollander.
Coolidge Corner Theatre to Present 'Big Screen Debuts' Series Featuring Films by Renowned Auteurs

Explore the Coolidge Corner Theatre's 'Big Screen Debuts' series, featuring the first feature films of renowned directors such as The Coen Brothers, Sofia Coppola, Barry Jenkins, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, and Satyajit Ray. Don't miss this opportunity to witness the early works of these iconic filmmakers at the newly-expanded Coolidge theater.
THE DEATH OF SHERLOCK HOLMES? Comes to East Lynne Theater Company

East Lynne Theater Company (ELTC) will present “The Death of Sherlock Holmes?”, a radio-style production, for two weekends: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 3 and 4, and 10 and 11.
Theatre Actor and Director Keith Baxter Dies at Age 90

BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that theatre actor and director Keith Baxter has died at age 90.
Celebrate 85th Years of WAR OF THE WORLDS With West Windsor Arts and the Historical Society of West Windsor at the BROADCAST BASH

Celebrate the 85th Anniversary of the War of the Worlds with West Windsor Arts and the Historical Society of West Windsor at the “Broadcast Bash” on Sunday, October 29 from 2 to 5 pm.

Orson Welles FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How many Broadway shows has Orson Welles been in?

Orson Welles has appeared on Broadway in 8 shows.

How many West End shows has Orson Welles been in?

Orson Welles has not appeared in the West End

How many shows has Orson Welles written?

Orson Welles has written 1 shows including Moby Dick (Playwright).

Get Orson Welles Email Alerts

Be the first to get news, photos, videos & more.

Videos