Orson Welles

American actor, director, writer and producer George Orson Welles was born May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He worked extensively in theatre, radio and film and is best remembered for his innovative work in all three media, most notably Caesar (1937), a groundbreaking Broadway adaption of Julius Caesar and the debut of the Mercury Theatre; The War of the Worlds (1938), the most famous broadcast in the history of radio; and Citizen Kane (1941), which many critics and scholars name as the best film of all time. Welles directed a number of high-profile theatrical productions in his early twenties, including an innovative adaptation of Macbeth and The Cradle Will Rock, but found national and international fame as the director and narrator of a 1938 radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds performed for the radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was reported to have caused widespread panic when listeners thought that an invasion by extraterrestrial beings was occurring, and although these reports of panic were mostly false and overstated, they rocketed Welles to instant notoriety. His first film was Citizen Kane (1941), which he wrote, produced, directed, and starred in as Charles Foster Kane. It is often considered the greatest film ever made. Welles went on to directed thirteen critically acclaimed films in his career, including The Magnificent Ambersons, Journey into Fear, It’s All True, The Stranger, The Lady From Shanghai, Macbeth, The Third Man, Othello, Mr Arkadin, The Trial and Touch of Evil.

He was reknowned for His distinctive directorial style, which featured layered and nonlinear narrative forms, innovative uses of lighting such as chiaroscuro, unusual camera angles, sound techniques borrowed from radio, deep focus shots, and long takes. He has been praised as a major creative force and as “the ultimate auteur.” Welles became Well known for his baritone voice, And was also a well regarded actor who won many wards. These other Welles films were nominated for their list: The Magnificent Ambersons (1942, director/producer/screenwriter); The Third Man (1949, actor); Touch of Evil (1958, actor/director/ screenwriter); and A Man for All Seasons (1966, actor). Citizen Kane was also nominated for numerous prizes at the 1941 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role. The only Oscar won, however, was Best Original Screenplay, which Welles shared with Herman J. Mankiewicz.The Magnificent Ambersons was nominated for four 1942 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The Stranger was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1947. Othello won the Palme d’Or at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival.

In 1968 Welles was nominated for Best Foreign Actor in a Leading Role at the 21st British Academy Film Awards for his performance in Chimes at Midnight. Welles was given the first Career Golden Lion award in the Venice Film Festival in 1970, during the same year Welles was given an Academy Honorary Award for “superlative and distinguished service in the making of motion pictures.He was also awarded the French Légion d’honneur, the highest civilian decoration in France. He also recieved the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 1975, and In 1978, Welles was presented with the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Career Achievement Award. In 1979, Welles was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. In 1982, Welles was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture at the Golden Globe Awards for his role in Butterfly, and won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Recording for his role on Donovan’s Brain.

Welles was awarded a Fellowship of the British Film Institute in 1983 and In 1984, Welles was given the Directors Guild of America Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Welles as the 16th Greatest Male Star of All Time. When asked to describe Welles’s influence, Jean-Luc Godard remarked: “Everyone will always owe him everything.” Welles was also voted the greatest film director of all time in two separate British Film Institute polls among directors and critics, and a wide survey of critical consensus, best-of lists, and historical retrospectives calls him the most acclaimed director of all time. He was also voted number 16 in AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Stars list of the greatest American film actors of all time and The American Film. Sadly On October 10, 1985, Welles died of a heart attack at his home in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, and was found slumped over his typewriter, working on a new film script.

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