Orson Welles  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915October 10, 1985) was an American screenwriter, a radio, film and theatre director, a radio and film producer and an actor in film and theatre, as well as a radio personality.

Welles first gained wide notoriety for his October 30, 1938 radio broadcast of H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds. Adapted to sound like a contemporary news broadcast, it caused a large number of listeners to panic. Welles and his biographers subsequently claimed he was exposing the gullibility of American audiences in the tense preamble to the Second World War. In the mid-1930s, his New York theatre adaptations of a voodoo Macbeth and a contemporary Julius Caesar became legendary. Welles was also an accomplished magician, starring in troop variety spectacles in the war years. During this period he became a serious political activist and commentator through journalism, radio and public appearances closely associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1941, he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in Citizen Kane, most often chosen in polls of film critics as the greatest film ever made.

Welles received a 1975 American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement award, the third person to do so after John Ford and James Cagney. Despite this accolade, Welles's artistic ambitions as a producer and director were frustrated by Hollywood movie studios. His one Hollywood film that remains as he conceived it is Citizen Kane, and only because its contract guaranteed him final cut. Although Welles remained on the margins of the main studios as a director/producer, his larger-than-life personality made him a bankable actor. In his latter years he struggled against a Hollywood system that refused to finance his independent film projects, making a living largely through acting, commercials, and voice-over work.

Critical appreciation for Welles has increased since his death. He is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important dramatic artists of the 20th century. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Welles as the 16th greatest male star of all time.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Orson Welles" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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