DEAD: Orson Welles

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Orson Welles (aged 70)
Actor, director, writer (The War of the Worlds)

George Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985) was an American actor, director, writer, and producer who worked in theatre, radio, and film. He is remembered for his innovative work in all three: in theatre, most notably Caesar (1937), a Broadwayadaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar; in radio, the legendary 1938 broadcast “The War of the Worlds”; and in film, Citizen Kane (1941), consistently ranked as one of the greatest films ever made.

DEATH: On the evening of October 9, 1985, Welles recorded his final interview on syndicated TV program The Merv Griffin Show, appearing with biographer Barbara Leaming. “Both Welles and Leaming talked of Welles’s life, and the segment was a nostalgic interlude,” wrote biographer Frank Brady. Welles returned to his house in Hollywood and worked into the early hours typing stage directions for the project he and Gary Graver were planning to shoot at UCLA the following day. Welles died sometime on the morning of October 10, following a heart attack. He was found by his chauffeur at around 10 a.m.; the first of Welles’s friends to arrive was Paul Stewart.

Welles was cremated by prior agreement with the executor of his estate, Greg Garrison, whose advice about making lucrative TV appearances in the 1970s made it possible for Welles to pay off a portion of the taxes he owed the IRS. A brief private funeral was attended by Paola Mori and Welles’s three daughters—the first time they had ever been together. Only a few close friends were invited: Garrison, Graver, Roger Hill and Prince Alessandro Tasca di Cuto. Chris Welles Feder later described the funeral as an awful experience.

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