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This Day in History: 10/30/1938 - Welles Scares Nation

This Day in History: 10/30/1938 - Welles Scares Nation



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In this "This Day in History" video clip learn about different events that have occurred on October 30th. Some of the events include Nat Turner being arrested and the first Lamborghini being unveiled. Also, Michael Jordan came out of retirement to play for the Wizards and H. G. Welles broadcasted War of the Worlds.


Contents

It has been one of history's cruel ironies that the blood libel — accusations against Jews using the blood of murdered gentile children for the making of wine and matzot — became the false pretext for numerous pogroms. And due to the danger, those who live in a place where blood libels occur are halachically exempted from using red wine, lest it be seized as "evidence" against them.

The supposed torture and human sacrifice alleged in the blood libels run contrary to the teachings of Judaism. According to the Bible, God commanded Abraham in the Binding of Isaac to sacrifice his son, but he ultimately provided a ram as a substitute. The Ten Commandments in the Torah forbid murder. In addition, the use of blood (human or otherwise) in cooking is prohibited by the kosher dietary laws (kashrut). Blood from slaughtered animals may not be consumed, and it must be drained out of the animal and covered with earth. [15] According to the Book of Leviticus, blood from sacrificed animals may only be placed on the altar of the Great Temple in Jerusalem (which no longer existed at the time of the Christian blood libels). Furthermore, the consumption of human flesh would violate kashrut. [16]

Also stated in Leviticus is that "it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood," [17] and "you must not eat any blood whatever, either of bird or of animal, in any of your settlements." [18]

While animal sacrifice was part of the practice of ancient Judaism, the Tanakh (Old Testament) and Jewish teachings portray human sacrifice as one of the evils that separated the pagans of Canaan from the Hebrews, [19] Jews were prohibited from engaging in these rituals and they were also punished for doing so. [20] In fact, ritual cleanliness for priests even prohibited them from being in the same room with a human corpse. [21]

The earliest versions of the accusation involved Jews crucifying Christian children on Easter/Passover because of a prophecy. There is no reference to the use of blood in unleavened matzo bread, which evolves later as a major motivation for the crime. [22]

Possible precursors Edit

The earliest known example of a blood libel is from a certain Democritus (not the philosopher) only mentioned by the Suda, [23] who alleged that "every seven years the Jews captured a stranger, brought him to the temple in Jerusalem, and sacrificed him, cutting his flesh into bits." [24] The Graeco-Egyptian author Apion claimed that Jews sacrificed Greek victims in their temple. This accusation is known from Josephus' rebuttal of it in Against Apion. Apion states that when Antiochus Epiphanes entered the temple in Jerusalem, he discovered a Greek captive who told him that he was being fattened for sacrifice. Every year, Apion claimed, the Jews would sacrifice a Greek and consume his flesh, at the same time swearing eternal hatred towards the Greeks. [25] Apion's claim probably repeats ideas already in circulation because similar claims are made by Posidonius and Apollonius Molon in the 1st century BCE. [26] Another example concerns the murder of a Christian boy by a group of Jewish youths. Socrates Scholasticus (fl. 5th century) reported that some Jews in a drunken frolic bound a Christian child on a cross in mockery of the death of Christ and scourged him until he died. [27]

Professor Israel Jacob Yuval of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem published an article in 1993 which argues that the blood libel may have originated in the 12th century from Christian views of Jewish behavior during the First Crusade. Some Jews committed suicide and killed their own children rather than be subjected to forced conversions. Yuval investigated Christian reports of these events and stated that they were greatly distorted, with claims that, if Jews could kill their own children, they could also kill the children of Christians. Yuval rejects the blood libel story as a fantasy of some Christians which could not contain any element of truth in it due to the precarious nature of the Jewish minority's existence in Christian Europe. [28] [29]

Origins in England Edit

In England in 1144, the Jews of Norwich were falsely accused of ritual murder after a boy, William of Norwich, was found dead with stab wounds in the woods. William's hagiographer, Thomas of Monmouth, falsely claimed that every year there is an international council of Jews at which they choose the country in which a child will be killed during Easter, because of a Jewish prophecy that states that the killing of a Christian child each year will ensure that the Jews will be restored to the Holy Land. In 1144, England was chosen, and the leaders of the Jewish community delegated the Jews of Norwich to perform the killing. They then abducted and crucified William. [30] The legend was turned into a cult, with William acquiring the status of a martyr and pilgrims bringing offerings to the local church. [31]

This was followed by similar accusations in Gloucester (1168), Bury St Edmunds (1181) and Bristol (1183). In 1189, the Jewish deputation attending the coronation of Richard the Lionheart was attacked by the crowd. Massacres of Jews at London and York soon followed. In 1190 on 16 March 150 Jews were attacked in York and then massacred when they took refuge in the royal castle, where Clifford's Tower now stands, with some committing suicide rather than being taken by the mob. [32] The remains of 17 bodies thrown in a well in Norwich between the 12th and 13th century (five that were shown by DNA testing to likely be members of a single Jewish family) were very possibly killed as part of one of these pogroms. [33]

After the death of Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, there were trials and executions of Jews. [34] The case is mentioned by Matthew Paris and Chaucer, and thus has become well-known. Its notoriety sprang from the intervention of the Crown, the first time an accusation of ritual killing had been given royal credibility.

The eight-year-old Hugh disappeared at Lincoln on 31 July 1255. His body was probably discovered on 29 August, in a well. A Jew named Copin or Koppin confessed to involvement. He confessed to John of Lexington, a servant of the crown, and relative of the Bishop of Lincoln. The church stood to gain from the establishment of a martyr's cult. Copin's confession was probably in return for the promise that his life should be spared. He is said to have confessed that the boy had been crucified by the Jews, who had assembled at Lincoln for that purpose. King Henry III, who had reached Lincoln at the beginning of October, had Copin executed and 91 of the Jews of Lincoln seized and sent up to London, where 18 of them were executed. The rest were pardoned at the intercession of the Franciscans or Dominicans. [35] Within a few decades, Jews would be expelled from all of England in 1290 and not allowed to return until 1657.

Continental Europe Edit

Much like the blood libel of England, the history of blood libel in continental Europe consists of unsubstantiated claims made about the corpses of Christian children. There were frequently associated supernatural events speculated about these discoveries and corpses, events which were often attributed by contemporaries to miracles. Also, just as in England, these accusations in continental Europe typically resulted in the execution of numerous Jews — sometimes even all, or close to all, the Jews in one town. These accusations and their effects also, in some cases, led to royal interference on behalf of the Jews.

Thomas of Monmouth's story of the annual Jewish meeting to decide which local community would kill a Christian child also quickly spread to the continent. An early version appears in Bonum Universale de Apibus ii. 29, § 23, by Thomas of Cantimpré (a monastery near Cambray). Thomas wrote, in around 1260, "It is quite certain that the Jews of every province annually decide by lot which congregation or city is to send Christian blood to the other congregations." Thomas of Cantimpré also believed that since the time when the Jews called out to Pontius Pilate, "His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matthew 27:25), they have been afflicted with hemorrhages, a condition equated with male menstruation: [36]

A very learned Jew, who in our day has been converted to the (Christian) faith, informs us that one enjoying the reputation of a prophet among them, toward the close of his life, made the following prediction: 'Be assured that relief from this secret ailment, to which you are exposed, can only be obtained through Christian blood ("solo sanguine Christiano").' This suggestion was followed by the ever-blind and impious Jews, who instituted the custom of annually shedding Christian blood in every province, in order that they might recover from their malady.

Thomas added that the Jews had misunderstood the words of their prophet, who by his expression "solo sanguine Christiano" had meant not the blood of any Christian, but that of Jesus – the only true remedy for all physical and spiritual suffering. Thomas did not mention the name of the "very learned" proselyte, but it may have been Nicholas Donin of La Rochelle, who, in 1240, had a disputation on the Talmud with Yechiel of Paris, and who in 1242 caused the burning of numerous Talmudic manuscripts in Paris. It is known that Thomas was personally acquainted with Nicholas. Nicholas Donin and another Jewish convert, Theobald of Cambridge, are greatly credited with the adoption and the belief of the blood libel myth in Europe. [37]

The first known case outside England was in Blois, France, in 1171. This was the site of a blood libel accusation against the town's entire Jewish community that led to around 31–33 Jews (with 17 women making up this total [38] ) [39] [40] being burned to death. [41] [42] on 29 May of that year, or the 20th of Sivan of 4931. [39] The blood libel revolved around R. Isaac, a Jew whom a Christian servant reported had deposited a murdered Christian in the Loire. [43] The child's body was never found. The count had about 40 adult Blois Jews arrested and they were eventually to be burned. The surviving members of the Blois Jewish community, as well as surviving holy texts, were ransomed. As a result of this case, the Jews garnered new promises from the king. The burned bodies of the sentenced Jews were supposedly maintained unblemished through the burning, a claim which is a well-known miracle, martyr myth for both Jews and Christians. [43] There is significant primary source material from this case including a letter revealing moves for Jewish protection with King Louis VII. [44] Responding to the mass execution, the 20th of Sivan was declared a fast day by Rabbenu Tam. [38] In this case in Blois, there was not yet the myth proclaimed that Jews needed the blood of Christians. [38]

In 1235, after the dead bodies of five boys were found on Christmas day in Fulda, the inhabitants of the town claimed the Jews had killed them to consume their blood, and burned 34 Jews to death with the help of Crusaders assembled at the time. Even though emperor Frederick II cleared the Jews of any wrongdoing after an investigation, blood libel accusations persisted in Germany. [45] [46] At Pforzheim, Baden, in 1267, a woman supposedly sold a girl to Jews who, according to the myth, then cut her open and dumped her in the Enz River, where boatmen found her. She apparently cried for vengeance, and then died. The body apparently bled as the Jews were brought to it. The woman and the Jews apparently confessed and were subsequently killed. [47] That a judicial execution was summarily committed in consequence of the accusation is evident from the manner in which the Nuremberg "Memorbuch" and the synagogal poems refer to the incident. [48]

In 1270, at Weissenburg, of Alsace, [49] a supposed miracle alone decided the charge against the Jews. A child's body had shown up in the Lauter River. Supposedly, Jews cut into the child to acquire his blood and the child apparently continued bleeding for five days. [49]

At Oberwesel, near Easter of 1287, [50] supposed miracles again constituted the only evidence against the Jews. The corpse of the 16-year-old Werner of Oberwesel (also referred to as "Good Werner") apparently landed at Bacharach and the body supposedly caused miracles, particularly medicinal miracles. [51] Also, there was apparently light coming from the body. [52] Reportedly, the child was hung upside down, forced to throw up the host and was cut open. [51] In consequence, the Jews of Oberwesel and many other adjacent localities were severely persecuted during the years 1286-89. The Jews of Oberwesel were particularly targeted because there were no Jews remaining in Bacharach following a 1283 pogrom. Additionally, there were pogroms following this case as well at and around Oberwesel. [53] Rudolph of Habsburg, to whom the Jews had appealed for protection, in order to manage the miracle story, had the archbishop of Mainz declare great wrong had been done to the Jew. This apparent declaration was very limited in effectiveness. [53]

A statement was made, in the Chronicle of Konrad Justinger of 1423, that at Bern in 1293 [54] or 1294 the Jews tortured and murdered a boy called Rudolph (sometimes also referred to as Rudolph, Ruff, or Ruof). The body was reportedly found by the house of Jöly, a Jew. The Jewish community was then implicated. The penalties imposed upon the Jews included torture, execution, expulsion, and steep financial fines. Justinger argued Jews were out to harm Christianity. [54] The historical impossibility [ clarification needed ] of this widely credited story was demonstrated by Jakob Stammler, pastor of Bern, in 1888. [55]

There have been several explanations put forth as to why these blood libel accusations were made and perpetuated. For example, it has been argued Thomas of Monmouth's account and other similar false accusations, as well as their perpetuation, largely had to do with the economic and political interests of leaders who did, in fact, perpetuate these myths. [56] Additionally, it was largely believed in Europe that Jews used Christian blood for medicinal and other purposes. [57] Despite the unsubstantiated, mythical nature of these claims, as well as their sources, they evidently materially impacted the communities in which they occurred including both the Jewish and non-Jewish populations.

Renaissance and Baroque Edit

Simon of Trent, aged two, disappeared in 1475, and his father alleged that he had been kidnapped and murdered by the local Jewish community. Fifteen local Jews were sentenced to death and burned. Simon was regarded locally as a saint, although he was never canonised by the church of Rome. He was removed from the Roman Martyrology in 1965 by Pope Paul VI.

Christopher of Toledo, also known as Christopher of La Guardia or "the Holy Child of La Guardia", was a four-year-old Christian boy supposedly murdered in 1490 by two Jews and three conversos (converts to Christianity). In total, eight men were executed. It is now believed [58] that this case was constructed by the Spanish Inquisition to facilitate the expulsion of Jews from Spain.

In a case at Tyrnau (Nagyszombat, today Trnava, Slovakia), the absurdity, even the impossibility, of the statements forced by torture from women and children shows that the accused preferred death as a means of escape from the torture, and admitted everything that was asked of them. They even said that Jewish men menstruated, and that the latter therefore practiced the drinking of Christian blood as a remedy. [59]

At Bösing (Bazin, today Pezinok, Slovakia), it was charged that a nine-year-old boy had been bled to death, suffering cruel torture thirty Jews confessed to the crime and were publicly burned. The true facts of the case were disclosed later when the child was found alive in Vienna. He had been taken there by the accuser, Count Wolf of Bazin, as a means of ridding himself of his Jewish creditors at Bazin. [60] [61]

In Rinn, near Innsbruck, a boy named Andreas Oxner (also known as Anderl von Rinn) was said to have been bought by Jewish merchants and cruelly murdered by them in a forest near the city, his blood being carefully collected in vessels. The accusation of drawing off the blood (without murder) was not made until the beginning of the 17th century when the cult was founded. The older inscription in the church of Rinn, dating from 1575, is distorted by fabulous embellishments – for example, that the money paid for the boy to his godfather turned into leaves, and that a lily blossomed upon his grave. The cult continued until officially prohibited in 1994, by the Bishop of Innsbruck. [62]

On 17 January 1670 Raphael Levy, a member of the Jewish community of Metz, was executed on charges of the ritual murder of a peasant child who had gone missing in the woods outside the village of Glatigny on 25 September 1669, the eve of Rosh Hashanah. [63]

19th century Edit

One of the child-saints in the Russian Orthodox Church is the six-year-old boy Gavriil Belostoksky from the village Zverki. According to the legend supported by the church, the boy was kidnapped from his home during the holiday of Passover while his parents were away. Shutko, who was a Jew from Białystok, was accused of bringing the boy to Białystok, piercing him with sharp objects and draining his blood for nine days, then bringing the body back to Zverki and dumping it at a local field. A cult developed, and the boy was canonized in 1820. His relics are still the object of pilgrimage. On All Saints Day, 27 July 1997, the Belarusian state TV showed a film alleging the story is true. [64] The revival of the cult in Belarus was cited as a dangerous expression of antisemitism in international reports on human rights and religious freedoms [65] [66] [67] [68] [69] which were passed to the UNHCR. [70]

  • 1823–35 Velizh blood libel: After a Christian child was found murdered outside of this small Russian town in 1823, accusations by a drunk prostitute led to the imprisonment of many local Jews. Some were not released until 1835. [71]
  • 1840 Damascus affair: In February, at Damascus, a Catholic monk named Father Thomas and his servant disappeared. The accusation of ritual murder was brought against members of the Jewish community of Damascus.
  • 1840 Rhodes blood libel: The Jews of Rhodes, under the Ottoman Empire, were accused of murdering a Greek Christian boy. The libel was supported by the local governor and the European consuls posted to Rhodes. Several Jews were arrested and tortured, and the entire Jewish quarter was blockaded for twelve days. An investigation carried out by the central Ottoman government found the Jews to be innocent.
  • In 1844 David Paul Drach, the son of the Head Rabbi of Paris and a convert to Christianity, wrote in his book De L’harmonie Entre L’eglise et la Synagogue, that a Catholic priest in Damascus had been ritually killed and the murder covered up by powerful Jews in Europe referring to the 1840 Damascus affair [See above]
  • In March 1879, ten Jewish men from a mountain village were brought to Kutaisi, Georgia to stand trial for the alleged kidnapping and murder of a Christian girl. The case attracted a great deal of attention in Russia (of which Georgia was then a part): "While periodicals as diverse in tendency as Herald of Europe and Saint Petersburg Notices expressed their amazement that medieval prejudice should have found a place in the modern judiciary of a civilized state, New Times hinted darkly of strange Jewish sects with unknown practices." [72] The trial ended in acquittal, and the orientalist Daniel Chwolson published a refutation of the blood libel.
  • 1882 Tiszaeszlár blood libel: The Jews of the village of Tiszaeszlár, Hungary were accused of the ritual murder of a fourteen-year-old Christian girl, Eszter Solymosi. The case was one of the main causes of the rise of antisemitism in the country. The accused persons were eventually acquitted.
  • In 1899 Hilsner Affair: Leopold Hilsner, a Czech Jewish vagabond, was accused of murdering a nineteen-year-old Christian woman, Anežka Hrůzová, with a slash to the throat. Despite the absurdity of the charge and the relatively progressive nature of society in Austria-Hungary, Hilsner was convicted and sentenced to death. He was later convicted of an additional unsolved murder, also involving a Christian woman. In 1901, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Tomáš Masaryk, a prominent Austro-Czech philosophy professor and future president of Czechoslovakia, spearheaded Hilsner's defense. He was later blamed by Czech media because of this. In March 1918, Hilsner was pardoned by Austrian emperor Charles I. He was never exonerated, and the true guilty parties were never found.

20th century and beyond Edit

  • The 1903 Kishinev pogrom, an anti-Jewish revolt, started when an anti-Semitic newspaper wrote that a Christian Russian boy, Mikhail Rybachenko, was found murdered in the town of Dubossary, alleging that the Jews killed him in order to use the blood in preparation of matzo. Around 49 Jews were killed and hundreds were wounded, with over 700 houses being looted and destroyed.
  • In the 1910 Shiraz blood libel, the Jews of Shiraz, Iran, were falsely accused of murdering a Muslim girl. The entire Jewish quarter was pillaged the pogrom left 12 Jews dead and about 50 injured. [73]
  • In Kyiv, a Jewish factory manager, Menahem Mendel Beilis, was accused of murdering Andrei Yushchinsky, a Christian child, and using his blood to make matzos. He was acquitted by an all-Christian jury after a sensational trial in 1913. [74]
  • In 1928, the Jews of Massena, New York were falsely accused of kidnapping and killing a Christian girl in the Massena blood libel.
  • Jews were frequently accused of the ritual murder of Christians for their blood in Der Stürmer, an antisemitic newspaper which was published in Nazi Germany. The infamous May 1934 issue of the paper was later banned by the Nazi authorities, because it went so far as to compare alleged Jewish ritual murder with the Christian rite of communion. [75]
  • In 1938 the British fascist politician and veterinarian Arnold Leese published an antisemitic booklet in defense of the Blood Libel which he titled My Irrelevant Defence: Meditations inside Gaol and Out on Jewish Ritual Murder.
  • The 1944–1946 Anti-Jewish violence in Poland, which according to some estimates killed as many as 1000–2000 Jews (237 documented cases), [76] involved, among other elements, accusations of blood libel, especially in the case of the 1946 Kielce pogrom. of Saudi Arabia (r. 1964–1975) made accusations against Parisian Jews that took the form of a blood libel. [77]
  • The Matzah Of Zion was written by the Syrian Defense Minister, Mustafa Tlass in 1986. The book concentrates on two issues: renewed ritual murder accusations against the Jews in the Damascus affair of 1840, and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. [78] The book was cited at a United Nations conference in 1991 by a Syrian delegate. On 21 October 2002, the London-based Arabic paper Al-Hayat reported that the book The Matzah of Zion was undergoing its eighth reprinting and it was also being translated into English, French and Italian. [citation needed] Egyptian filmmaker Munir Radhi has announced plans to adapt the book into a film. [79]
  • In 2003, a private Syrian film company created a 29-part television series Ash-Shatat ("The Diaspora"). This series originally aired in Lebanon in late 2003 and it was subsequently broadcast by Al-Manar, a satellite television network owned by Hezbollah. This TV series, based on the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, shows the Jewish people engaging in a conspiracy to rule the world, and it also presents Jews as people who murder the children of Christians, drain their blood and use it to bake matzah. [citation needed]
  • In early January 2005, some 20 members of the Russian State Duma publicly made a blood libel accusation against the Jewish people. They approached the Prosecutor General's Office and demanded that Russia "ban all Jewish organizations." They accused all Jewish groups of being extremist, "anti-Christian and inhumane, and even accused them of practices that include ritual murders." Alluding to previous antisemitic Russian court decrees that accused the Jews of ritual murder, they wrote that "Many facts of such religious extremism were proven in courts." The accusation included traditional antisemitic canards, such as the claim that "the whole democratic world today is under the financial and political control of international Jewry. And we do not want our Russia to be among such unfree countries". This demand was published as an open letter to the prosecutor general, in Rus Pravoslavnaya ( Русь православная , "Orthodox Russia"), a national-conservative newspaper. This group consisted of members of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democrats, the Communist faction, and the nationalist Motherland party, with some 500 supporters. The mentioned document is known as "The Letter of Five Hundred" ("Письмо пятисот"). [80][81] Their supporters included editors of nationalist newspapers as well as journalists. By the end of the month, this group was strongly criticized, and it retracted its demand in response.
  • At the end of April 2005, five boys, ages 9 to 12, in Krasnoyarsk (Russia) disappeared. In May 2005, their burnt bodies were found in the city sewage. The crime was not disclosed, and in August 2007 the investigation was extended until 18 November 2007. [82] Some Russian nationalist groups claimed that the children were murdered by a Jewish sect with a ritual purpose. [83][84] Nationalist M. Nazarov, one of the authors of "The Letter of Five Hundred" alleges "the existence of a 'Hasidic sect', whose members kill children before Passover to collect their blood", using the Beilis case mentioned above as evidence. M.Nazarov also alleges that "the ritual murder requires throwing the body away rather than its concealing". "The Union of the Russian People" demanded officials thoroughly investigate the Jews, not stopping at the search in synagogues, Matzah bakeries and their offices. [85]
  • During a speech in 2007, Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, referred to Jews in Europe having in the past used children's blood to bake holy bread. "We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children's blood", he said. "Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread." [86]
  • In the 2000s, a Polish team of anthropologists and sociologists investigated the currency of the blood libel myth in Sandomierz where a painting depicting the blood libel adorns the Cathedral and Orthodox faithful in villages near Bialystok, and they discovered that these beliefs persist among some Catholic and Orthodox Christians. [87][88][89]
  • In an address that aired on Al-Aqsa TV, a Hamas run TV station in Gaza, on 31 March 2010, Salah Eldeen Sultan (Arabic: صلاح الدين سلطان), founder of the American Center for Islamic Research in Columbus, Ohio, the Islamic American University in Southfield, Michigan, and the Sultan Publishing Co. [90] and described in 2005 as "one of America's most noted Muslim scholars", alleged that Jews kidnap Christians and others in order to slaughter them and use their blood for making matzos. Sultan, who is currently a lecturer on Muslim jurisprudence at Cairo University stated that: "The Zionists kidnap several non-Muslims [sic] – Christians and others. this happened in a Jewish neighborhood in Damascus. They killed the French doctor, Toma, who used to treat the Jews and others for free, in order to spread Christianity. Even though he was their friend and they benefited from him the most, they took him on one of these holidays and slaughtered him, along with the nurse. Then they kneaded the matzos with the blood of Dr. Toma and his nurse. They do this every year. The world must know these facts about the Zionist entity and its terrible corrupt creed. The world should know this." (Translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute) [91][92][93][94][95]
  • During an interview which aired on Rotana Khalijiya TV on 13 August 2012, Saudi Cleric Salman Al-Odeh stated (as translated by MEMRI) that "It is well known that the Jews celebrate several holidays, one of which is the Passover, or the Matzos Holiday. I read once about a doctor who was working in a laboratory. This doctor lived with a Jewish family. One day, they said to him: 'We want blood. Get us some human blood.' He was confused. He didn't know what this was all about. Of course, he couldn't betray his work ethics in such a way, but he began inquiring, and he found that they were making matzos with human blood." Al-Odeh also stated that "[Jews] eat it, believing that this brings them close to their false god, Yahweh" and that "They would lure a child in order to sacrifice him in the religious rite that they perform during that holiday." [96][97]
  • In April 2013, the Palestinian non-profit organization MIFTAH, founded by Hanan Ashrawi apologized for publishing an article which criticized US President Barack Obama for holding a Passover Seder in the White House by saying "Does Obama, in fact, know the relationship, for example, between ‘Passover’ and ‘Christian blood’. Or ‘Passover’ and ‘Jewish blood rituals?!’ Much of the chatter and gossip about historical Jewish blood rituals in Europe is real and not fake as they claim the Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover." MIFTAH's apology expressed its "sincerest regret." [98]
  • In an interview which aired on Al-Hafez TV on 12 May 2013, Khaled Al-Zaafrani of the Egyptian Justice and Progress Party, stated (as translated by MEMRI): "It's well known that during the Passover, they [the Jews] make matzos called the 'Blood of Zion.' They take a Christian child, slit his throat and slaughter him. Then they take his blood and make their [matzos]. This is a very important rite for the Jews, which they never forgo. They slice it and fight over who gets to eat Christian blood." In the same interview, Al-Zaafrani stated that "The French kings and the Russian czars discovered this in the Jewish quarters. All the massacring of Jews that occurred in those countries were because they discovered that the Jews had kidnapped and slaughtered children, in order to make the Passover matzos." [99][100][101]
  • In an interview which aired on the Al-Quds TV channel on 28 July 2014 (as translated by MEMRI), Osama Hamdan, the top representative of Hamas in Lebanon, stated that "we all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians, in order to mix their blood in their holy matzos. This is not a figment of imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact, acknowledged by their own books and by historical evidence." [102] In a subsequent interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Hamdan defended his comments, stating that he "has Jewish friends". [103]
  • In a sermon broadcast on the official Jordanian TV channel on 22 August 2014, Sheik Bassam Ammoush, a former Minister of Administrative Development who was appointed to Jordan's House of Senate ("Majlis al-Aayan") in 2011, stated (as translated by MEMRI): "In [the Gaza Strip] we are dealing with the enemies of Allah, who believe that the matzos that they bake on their holidays must be kneaded with blood. When the Jews were in the diaspora, they would murder children in England, in Europe, and in America. They would slaughter them and use their blood to make their matzos. They believe that they are God's chosen people. They believe that the killing of any human being is a form of worship and a means to draw near their god." [104]
  • In March 2020, Italian painter Giovanni Gasparro unveiled a painting of the martyrdom of Simon of Trent, titled "Martirio di San Simonino da Trento (Simone Unverdorben), per omicidio rituale ebraico (The Martyrdom of St. Simon of Trento in accordance with Jewish ritual murder)". The painting was condemned by the Italian Jewish community and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others. [105][106]

The attitude of the Catholic Church towards these accusations and the cults venerating children supposedly killed by Jews has varied over time. The Papacy generally opposed them, although it had problems in enforcing its opposition.

In 1911, the Dictionnaire apologétique de la foi catholique, an important French Catholic encyclopedia, published an analysis of the blood libel accusations. [107] This may be taken as being broadly representative of educated Catholic opinion in continental Europe at that time. The article noted that the popes had generally refrained from endorsing the blood libel, and it concluded that the accusations were unproven in a general sense, but it left open the possibility that some Jews had committed ritual murders of Christians. Other contemporary Catholic sources (notably the Jesuit periodical La Civiltà Cattolica) promoted the blood libel as truth. [108]

Today, the accusations are almost entirely discredited in Catholic circles, and the cults associated with them have fallen into disfavour. [ citation needed ] For example, Simon of Trent's local status as a saint was removed in 1965.

Papal pronouncements Edit

    took action against the blood libel: "5 July 1247 Mandate to the prelates of Germany and France to annul all measures adopted against the Jews on account of the ritual murder libel, and to prevent the accusation of Arabs on similar charges" (The Apostolic See and the Jews, Documents: 492–1404 Simonsohn, Shlomo, pp. 188–189, 193–195, 208). In 1247, he wrote also that "Certain of the clergy, and princes, nobles and great lords of your cities and dioceses have falsely devised certain godless plans against the Jews, unjustly depriving them by force of their property, and appropriating it themselves. they falsely charge them with dividing up among themselves on the Passover the heart of a murdered boy. In their malice, they ascribe every murder, wherever it chance to occur, to the Jews. And on the ground of these and other fabrications, they are filled with rage against them, rob them of their possessions without any formal accusation, without confession, and without legal trial and conviction, contrary to the privileges granted to them by the Apostolic See. Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be disturbed. we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner. Whenever any unjust attacks upon them come under your notice, redress their injuries, and do not suffer them to be visited in the future by similar tribulations." [109] (1271–1276) issued a letter which criticized the practice of blood libels and forbade arrests and persecution of Jews based on a blood libel, . unless which we do not believe they be caught in the commission of the crime.[110] , in a bull of 12 May 1540, made clear his displeasure at having learned, through the complaints of the Jews of Hungary, Bohemia, and Poland, that their enemies, looking for a pretext to lay their hands on the Jews' property, were falsely attributing terrible crimes to them, in particular that of killing children and drinking their blood. in the bull Hebraeorum gens sola (26 February 1569), by which he expelled Jews from all the cities of the Papal States except Rome and Ancona, [111] made multiple accusations of wrong-doing against the Jews, including usury, theft, receiving stolen goods, pimping, divination, and magic. He did not mention the blood libel. wrote the bull Beatus Andreas (22 February 1755) in response to an application for the formal canonization of the 15th-century Andreas Oxner, a folk saint alleged to have been murdered by Jews "out of hatred for the Christian faith". Benedict did not dispute the factual claim that Jews murdered Christian children, and in anticipating that further cases on this basis would be brought appears to have accepted it as accurate, but decreed that in such cases beatification or canonization would be inappropriate. [112]

In late 1553 or 1554, Suleiman the Magnificent, the reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, issued a firman (royal decree) which formally denounced blood libels against the Jews. [113] In 1840, following the Western outrage arising from the Damascus affair, British politician and leader of the British Jewish community, Sir Moses Montefiore, backed by other influential westerners including Britain's Lord Palmerston and Damascus consul Charles Henry Churchill, [114] the French lawyer Adolphe Crémieux, Austrian consul Giovanni Gasparo Merlato, Danish missionary John Nicolayson, [114] and Solomon Munk, persuaded Sultan Abdulmecid I in Constantinople, to issue a firman on 6 November 1840 intended to halt the spread of blood libel accusations in the Ottoman Empire. The edict declared that blood libel accusations were a slander against Jews and they would be prohibited throughout the Ottoman Empire, and read in part:

". and for the love we bear to our subjects, we cannot permit the Jewish nation, whose innocence for the crime alleged against them is evident, to be worried and tormented as a consequence of accusations which have not the least foundation in truth. ".

In the remainder of the 19th century and into the 20th century, there were many instances of the blood libel in Ottoman lands. [115] However the libel almost always came from the Christian community, sometimes with the connivance of Greek or French diplomats. [115] The Jews could usually count on the goodwill of the Ottoman authorities and increasingly on the support of British, Prussian and Austrian representatives. [115]

In the 1910 Shiraz blood libel, the Jews of Shiraz, Iran, were falsely accused of murdering a Muslim girl. The entire Jewish quarter was pillaged, with the pogrom leaving 12 Jews dead and about 50 injured.

In 1983, Mustafa Tlass, the Syrian Minister of Defense, wrote and published The Matzah of Zion, which is a treatment of the Damascus affair of 1840 that repeats the ancient "blood libel", that Jews use the blood of murdered non-Jews in religious rituals such as baking Matza bread. [116] In this book, he argues that the true religious beliefs of Jews are "black hatred against all humans and religions", and no Arab country should ever sign a peace treaty with Israel. [117] Tlass re-printed the book several times and stands by its conclusions. Following the book's publication, Tlass told Der Spiegel, that this accusation against Jews was valid and he also claimed that his book is "an historical study . based on documents from France, Vienna and the American University in Beirut." [117] [118]

In 2003, the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram published a series of articles by Osama El-Baz, a senior advisor to the then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Among other things, Osama El-Baz explained the origins of the blood libel against the Jews. He said that Arabs and Muslims have never been antisemitic, as a group, but he accepted the fact that a few Arab writers and media figures attack Jews "on the basis of the racist fallacies and myths that originated in Europe". He urged people not to succumb to "myths" such as the blood libel. [119]

Nevertheless, on many occasions in modern times, blood libel stories have appeared in the state-sponsored media of a number of Arab and Muslim nations, as well as on their television shows and websites, and books which allege instances of Jewish blood libels are not uncommon there. [120] The blood libel was featured in a scene in the Syrian TV series Ash-Shatat, shown in 2003. [121] [122]

In 2007, Lebanese poet Marwan Chamoun, in an interview aired on Télé Liban, referred to the ". slaughter of the priest Tomaso de Camangiano . in 1840. in the presence of two rabbis in the heart of Damascus, in the home of a close friend of this priest, Daud Al-Harari, the head of the Jewish community of Damascus. After he was slaughtered, his blood was collected, and the two rabbis took it." [123] A novel, Death of a Monk, based on the Damascus affair, was published in 2004.


The War of the Worlds (1938 radio drama)

"The War of the Worlds" is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles as an adaptation of H. G. Wells's novel The War of the Worlds (1898). It was performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode at 8 p.m. on Sunday, October 30, 1938, over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. The episode became famous for allegedly causing panic among its listening audience, though the scale of panic is disputed, as the program had relatively few listeners. [2]

The one-hour program began with the theme music for the Mercury Theatre on the Air and an announcement that the evening's show was an adaptation of The War of the Worlds. Orson Welles then read a prologue which was closely based on the opening of H. G. Wells' novel modified slightly to move the story's setting to 1939. For about the next twenty minutes, the broadcast was presented as a typical evening of radio programming being interrupted by a series of news bulletins. The first few news flashes occur during a presentation of "live" music and describe a series of odd explosions observed on Mars, followed by a seemingly unrelated report of an unusual object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. The musical program returns briefly before being interrupted by a live report from Grover's Mill, where police officials and a crowd of curious onlookers have surrounded the strange cylindrical object that fell from the sky. The situation escalates when Martians emerge from the cylinder and attack using a heat-ray, which the panicked reporter at the scene describes until his audio feed abruptly goes dead. This is followed by a rapid series of increasingly alarming news updates detailing a devastating alien invasion taking place around the country and the futile efforts of the U.S. military to stop it. The first portion of the show climaxes with another live report from a Manhattan rooftop as giant Martian war machines release clouds of poisonous smoke across New York City. The reporter mentions in passing that Martian cylinders have landed all over the world as he describes desperate New Yorkers fleeing and "dropping like flies", the smoke inexorably approaching his location. Eventually he coughs and falls silent, and a lone ham radio operator is heard mournfully calling "Is there anyone on the air? Isn't there. anyone?" with no response. Only then did the program take its first break, a full thirty-eight minutes after Welles's introduction.

The second half of the show shifts to a conventional radio drama format which follows a survivor (played by Welles) dealing with the aftermath of the invasion and the ongoing Martian occupation of Earth. The final segment lasts for about sixteen minutes, and as in the original novel, it concludes with the revelation that the Martians have been defeated by microbes rather than by humans. The broadcast ends with a brief "out of character" announcement by Welles in which he cheerfully compares the show to "dressing up in a sheet, jumping out of a bush and saying 'Boo!'"

Welles's "War of the Worlds" broadcast has become famous for supposedly tricking some of its listeners into believing that a Martian invasion was actually taking place due to the "breaking news" style of storytelling employed in the first half of the show. The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining program without commercial interruptions the first break in the drama came after Martian war machines were described as devastating New York City. Popular legend holds that some of the radio audience may have been listening to The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and tuned in to "The War of the Worlds" during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction indicating that the show was a work of science fiction. However, contemporary research suggests that this happened only in rare instances. [3] : 67–69

In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. [2] Nevertheless, the episode secured Welles's fame as a dramatist.


This Day in History: 10/30/1938 - Welles Scares Nation - HISTORY

On October 30, 1938, from the Mercury Theater in New York City, Orson Welles broadcasted a “modernized” radio play of H.G. Wells’ (no relation) 1898 novel “War of the Worlds.” For the last three quarters of the century, we’ve been told that this fictionalized CBS broadcast sent Americans into a panic that citizens across the country did not realize that this was science-fiction (despite the fact that it was explicitly stated at the beginning and twice during the broadcast) and thought the USA was under attack from an invading Martian army. Littered with realistic simulated news reports and “eyewitness accounts,” the hour long broadcast was innovative and an extremely entertaining way to present the story.

But the thing is, no such nation-wide panic actually occurred. While there were certainly many exceptions, documented evidence indicates most who listened did know it was a dramatization and were completely aware that New Jersey was not being destroyed by visitors from space. Further, as you’ll soon see, the broadcast didn’t have very good ratings when it first aired so even if everyone who listened had thought it was real, it wouldn’t have resulted in the level of mass hysteria commonly spoken of since.

War of the Worlds first appeared in magazines, simultaneously, in the UK and US in 1897. It was published as a book in 1898 and is considered one of the most influential pieces of science-fiction ever written. The Englishmen H.G. (Herbert George) Wells was already quite a famous author by the time he got to Martians attacking Earth. In 1895, he published The Time Machine (as well as popularizing the term), The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1896, and The Invisible Man in 1897 (directly before War of Worlds), securing his position at the time as the world’s best, if not truly the first, science-fiction writer. After War of the Worlds, he went on to write several more books, including the non-fiction best-selling three-volume Outline of History.

As you might have guessed from all this, H.G. Wells was quite a well-known writer in 1938 and his novels, including War of the Worlds, were widely read on both continents. So, when Orson adapted the novel in 1938, there was nothing particularly new about the story itself. The differences came from the medium and structure of the story-telling. While the 1938 version told the story of the destruction of New Jersey, the 1898 original takes place in England, or more specifically, in Surrey and London. Another significant difference between the two works is that H.G.’s version is told through the eyes of an unnamed protagonist and his brother. Orson’s is told through staged news broadcasts and reports. For instance,

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars.

As for the number of listeners, as Orson stepped to the microphone in the evening of the day before Halloween in 1938, there were already several well-known factors that potentially were going to affect the number of people who were actually going to tune in to the broadcast that evening. For one, the very popular Chase and Sanborn Hour, a comedy variety show hosted by the ventriloquist Edgar Bergin, was airing at the exact same time on a competing radio station, NBC. Additionally, several major CBS affiliates (including in Boston) preempted the broadcast for local commercial programing.

Further, as the program progressed, the C.E. Hopper Company called approximately five thousand households to ask the question, “To what program are you listening?” C.E. Hopper was an American company that measured radio ratings for the major networks to see how much they could charge for advertising during a particular program, much like Nielsen ratings today for television (in fact, A.C. Nielsen bought C.E. Hopper in 1950). It turns out, only two percent answered something in reference to War of the Worlds on CBS. None of these people spoke of any “news broadcast” or “special bulletin about aliens” either. So besides very few listening in, it would seem those who were all knew it was just a story, which perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise considering it was announced at the beginning and twice during the broadcast.

So, how did the “The radio broadcast of War of the Worlds created mass hysteria” myth get perpetuated? In short, the media. Newspaper headlines across the country gave the impression that panic gripped the nation: “Radio Fake Scares Nation,” read the Chicago Herald and Examiner “Fake Radio War Stirs Terror Through US,” was reported in the New York Daily News (accompanied with a picture of a frightened man and a woman with an arm sling whose caption read “war” victim.) “Terror by Radio,” could be found in a New York Times editorial.

The newspaper industry had quite a bone to pick with the new medium of radio. As W. Joseph Campbell of American University wrote in the BBC News magazine in 2011 (for the 73rd anniversary of the broadcast), “…the so-called ‘panic broadcast’ brought newspapers an exceptional opportunity to censure radio, a still-new medium that was becoming a serious competitor in providing news and advertising.”

That same New York Times editorial with the inflammatory headline had this to say about its new competitor, “Radio is new but it has adult responsibilities. It has not mastered itself or the material it uses.”

Additionally, the newspapers also wanted to sell papers and what better way to do that than using words like “terror” or “panic” or “war.” Using anecdotal and scattered stories, they made it seem like many citizens were ready to bear arms against the alien invaders, but in truth those stories were either very few and far between or in some cases completely made up. According to law enforcement and hospital documentation from the night in question, there were no reports of people taking to the streets with guns, no one taken to the hospital on the account of the radio broadcast, and no known person committing suicide as a result of the broadcast.

The only noticeable effect was that law enforcement saw a spike in calls in the New Jersey area particularly (the site of the supposed attack) on the evening in question, with most simply asking whether the broadcast was a hoax and calling to find out more information. As David Miller points out in his textbook Introduction to Collective Behavior,

Some callers requested information… Some people called to find out where they could go to donate blood. Some callers were simply angry that such a realistic show was allowed on the air, while others called CBS to congratulate Mercury Theater for the exciting Halloween program.

But in the end, there was no massive panic and the spike in calls to the police is one of the few bits of evidence we have that at least a small percentage of the listeners had concerns or complaints over the broadcast. Quite simply, newspapers created the “panic” after the fact (including U.S. newspapers writing nearly 13,000 articles on it over the next month), the public swallowed up the newspaper’s reports, and radio and CBS particularly were happy to embrace the claims as a demonstration of the power of the new medium, which was good for advertising dollars and ratings.

Orson Welles himself believed there had been a mass-panic, rather than simply as it was- a small percentage of the small percentage of the U.S. population listening in believing it was real for a little while despite that during the broadcast it was stated that it wasn’t. The myth of the nation-wide panic has perpetuated itself ever since.

As to the motivation behind presenting the story as real, Orson Welles had this very pertinent thing to say (considering the misinformation the newspapers would spread about the broadcast),

We were fed up with the way in which everything that came over this new magic box, the radio, was being swallowed. People you know do suspect what they read in the newspapers and what people tell them, but when the radio came, and I suppose now television, anything that came through that new machine was believed. So in a way our broadcast was an assault on the credibility of that machine. We wanted people to understand that they shouldn’t take any opinion predigested, and they shouldn’t swallow everything that came through the tap whether it was radio or not. But as I say it was only a partial experiment, we had no idea the extent of the thing…

You can listen to that broadcast here. You can also listen to Orson Welles apologizing for the supposed panic that happened as a result of the broadcast.

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Contents

George Orson Welles was born May 6, 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a son of Richard Head Welles (1872–1930) [12] : 26 [13] [a] and Beatrice Ives Welles (née Beatrice Lucy Ives 1883–1924). [13] [14] : 9 [b] He was named after one of his great-grandfathers, influential Kenosha attorney Orson S. Head, and his brother George Head. [12] : 37 An alternative story of the source of his first and middle names was told by George Ade, who met Welles's parents on a West Indies cruise toward the end of 1914. Ade was traveling with a friend, Orson Wells (no relation), and the two of them sat at the same table as Mr. and Mrs. Richard Welles. Mrs. Welles was pregnant at the time, and when they said goodbye, she told them that she had enjoyed their company so much that if the child were a boy, she intended to name it for them: George Orson. [16]

Despite his family's affluence, Welles encountered hardship in childhood. His parents separated and moved to Chicago in 1919. His father, who made a fortune as the inventor of a popular bicycle lamp, [17] became an alcoholic and stopped working. Welles's mother, a pianist, played during lectures by Dudley Crafts Watson at the Art Institute of Chicago to support her son and herself the oldest Welles boy, "Dickie", was institutionalized at an early age because he had learning difficulties. Beatrice died of hepatitis in a Chicago hospital on May 10, 1924, just after Welles's ninth birthday. [18] : 3–5 [19] : 326 The Gordon String Quartet, a predecessor to the Berkshire String Quartet, which had made its first appearance at her home in 1921, played at Beatrice's funeral. [20] [21]

After his mother's death, Welles ceased pursuing music. It was decided that he would spend the summer with the Watson family at a private art colony in the village of Wyoming in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, established by Lydia Avery Coonley Ward. [22] : 8 There he played and became friends with the children of the Aga Khan, including the 12-year-old Prince Aly Khan. Then, in what Welles later described as "a hectic period" in his life, he lived in a Chicago apartment with both his father and Maurice Bernstein, a Chicago physician who had been a close friend of both his parents. Welles briefly attended public school [23] : 133 before his alcoholic father left business altogether and took him along on his travels to Jamaica and the Far East. When they returned they settled in a hotel in Grand Detour, Illinois, that was owned by his father. When the hotel burned down, Welles and his father took to the road again. [22] : 9

"During the three years that Orson lived with his father, some observers wondered who took care of whom", wrote biographer Frank Brady. [22] : 9

"In some ways, he was never really a young boy, you know," said Roger Hill, who became Welles's teacher and lifelong friend. [24] : 24

Welles briefly attended public school in Madison, Wisconsin, enrolled in the fourth grade. [22] : 9 On September 15, 1926, he entered the Todd Seminary for Boys, [23] : 3 an expensive independent school in Woodstock, Illinois, that his older brother, Richard Ives Welles, had attended ten years before until he was expelled for misbehavior. [12] : 48 At Todd School, Welles came under the influence of Roger Hill, a teacher who was later Todd's headmaster. Hill provided Welles with an ad hoc educational environment that proved invaluable to his creative experience, allowing Welles to concentrate on subjects that interested him. Welles performed and staged theatrical experiments and productions there. [25]

"Todd provided Welles with many valuable experiences", wrote critic Richard France. "He was able to explore and experiment in an atmosphere of acceptance and encouragement. In addition to a theatre, the school's own radio station was at his disposal." [26] : 27 Welles's first radio experience was on the Todd station, where he performed an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes that was written by him. [18] : 7

On December 28, 1930, when Welles was 15, his father died of heart and kidney failure at the age of 58, alone in a hotel in Chicago. Shortly before this, Welles had announced to his father that he would stop seeing him, believing it would prompt his father to refrain from drinking. As a result, Orson felt guilty because he believed his father had drunk himself to death because of him. [27] His father's will left it to Orson to name his guardian. When Roger Hill declined, Welles chose Maurice Bernstein. [28] : 71–72

Following graduation from Todd in May 1931, [23] : 3 Welles was awarded a scholarship to Harvard University, while his mentor Roger Hill advocated he attend Cornell College in Iowa. [29] Rather than enrolling, he chose travel. He studied for a few weeks at the Art Institute of Chicago [30] : 117 with Boris Anisfeld, who encouraged him to pursue painting. [22] : 18

Welles occasionally returned to Woodstock, the place he eventually named when he was asked in a 1960 interview, "Where is home?" Welles replied, "I suppose it's Woodstock, Illinois, if it's anywhere. I went to school there for four years. If I try to think of a home, it's that." [31]

After his father's death, Welles traveled to Europe using a small portion of his inheritance. Welles said that while on a walking and painting trip through Ireland, he strode into the Gate Theatre in Dublin and claimed he was a Broadway star. The manager of the Gate, Hilton Edwards, later said he had not believed him but was impressed by his brashness and an impassioned audition he gave. [32] : 134 Welles made his stage debut at the Gate Theatre on October 13, 1931, appearing in Ashley Dukes's adaptation of Jew Suss as Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg. He performed small supporting roles in subsequent Gate productions, and he produced and designed productions of his own in Dublin. In March 1932 Welles performed in W. Somerset Maugham's The Circle at Dublin's Abbey Theatre and traveled to London to find additional work in the theatre. Unable to obtain a work permit, he returned to the U.S. [19] : 327–330

Welles found his fame ephemeral and turned to a writing project at Todd School that became immensely successful, first entitled Everybody's Shakespeare and subsequently, The Mercury Shakespeare. Welles traveled to North Africa while working on thousands of illustrations for the Everybody's Shakespeare series of educational books, a series that remained in print for decades. [33]

In 1933, Roger and Hortense Hill invited Welles to a party in Chicago, where Welles met Thornton Wilder. Wilder arranged for Welles to meet Alexander Woollcott in New York, in order that he be introduced to Katharine Cornell, who was assembling a repertory theatre company. Cornell's husband, director Guthrie McClintic, immediately put Welles under contract and cast him in three plays. [22] : 46–49 Romeo and Juliet, The Barretts of Wimpole Street and Candida toured in repertory for 36 weeks beginning in November 1933, with the first of more than 200 performances taking place in Buffalo, New York. [19] : 330–331

In 1934, Welles got his first job on radio—on The American School of the Air—through actor-director Paul Stewart, who introduced him to director Knowles Entrikin. [19] : 331 That summer Welles staged a drama festival with the Todd School at the Opera House in Woodstock, Illinois, inviting Micheál Mac Liammóir and Hilton Edwards from Dublin's Gate Theatre to appear along with New York stage luminaries in productions including Trilby, Hamlet, The Drunkard and Tsar Paul. At the old firehouse in Woodstock, he also shot his first film, an eight-minute short titled The Hearts of Age. [19] : 330–331

On November 14, 1934, Welles married Chicago socialite and actress Virginia Nicolson [19] : 332 (often misspelled "Nicholson") [34] in a civil ceremony in New York. To appease the Nicolsons, who were furious at the couple's elopement, a formal ceremony took place December 23, 1934, at the New Jersey mansion of the bride's godmother. Welles wore a cutaway borrowed from his friend George Macready. [28] : 182

A revised production of Katharine Cornell's Romeo and Juliet opened December 20, 1934, at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York. [19] : 331–332 [35] The Broadway production brought the 19-year-old Welles (now playing Tybalt) to the notice of John Houseman, a theatrical producer who was casting the lead role in the debut production of Archibald MacLeish's verse play, Panic. [36] : 144–158 On March 22, 1935, Welles made his debut on the CBS Radio series The March of Time, performing a scene from Panic for a news report on the stage production [22] : 70–71

By 1935 Welles was supplementing his earnings in the theatre as a radio actor in Manhattan, working with many actors who later formed the core of his Mercury Theatre on programs including America's Hour, Cavalcade of America, Columbia Workshop and The March of Time. [19] : 331–332 "Within a year of his debut Welles could claim membership in that elite band of radio actors who commanded salaries second only to the highest paid movie stars," wrote critic Richard France. [26] : 172

Federal Theatre Project Edit

Macbeth opening night at the Lafayette Theatre (April 14, 1936)

Part of the Works Progress Administration, the Federal Theatre Project (1935–39) was a New Deal program to fund theatre and other live artistic performances and entertainment programs in the United States during the Great Depression. It was created as a relief measure to employ artists, writers, directors and theatre workers. Under national director Hallie Flanagan it was shaped into a truly national theatre that created relevant art, encouraged experimentation and innovation, and made it possible for millions of Americans to see live theatre for the first time. [37]

John Houseman, director of the Negro Theatre Unit in New York, invited Welles to join the Federal Theatre Project in 1935. Far from unemployed — "I was so employed I forgot how to sleep" — Welles put a large share of his $1,500-a-week radio earnings into his stage productions, bypassing administrative red tape and mounting the projects more quickly and professionally. "Roosevelt once said that I was the only operator in history who ever illegally siphoned money into a Washington project," Welles said. [19] : 11–13

The Federal Theatre Project was the ideal environment in which Welles could develop his art. Its purpose was employment, so he was able to hire any number of artists, craftsmen and technicians, and he filled the stage with performers. [38] : 3 The company for the first production, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth with an entirely African-American cast, numbered 150. [39] The production became known as the Voodoo Macbeth because Welles changed the setting to a mythical island suggesting the Haitian court of King Henri Christophe, [40] : 179–180 with Haitian vodou fulfilling the rôle of Scottish witchcraft. [41] : 86 The play opened April 14, 1936, at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem and was received rapturously. At 20, Welles was hailed as a prodigy. [42] The production then made a 4,000-mile national tour [19] : 333 [43] that included two weeks at the Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. [44]

Next mounted was the farce Horse Eats Hat, an adaptation by Welles and Edwin Denby of The Italian Straw Hat, an 1851 five-act farce by Eugène Marin Labiche and Marc-Michel. [24] : 114 The play was presented September 26 – December 5, 1936, at Maxine Elliott's Theatre, New York, [19] : 334 and featured Joseph Cotten in his first starring role. [45] : 34 It was followed by an adaptation of Dr. Faustus that used light as a prime unifying scenic element in a nearly black stage, presented January 8 – May 9, 1937, at Maxine Elliott's Theatre. [19] : 335

Outside the scope of the Federal Theatre Project, [26] : 100 American composer Aaron Copland chose Welles to direct The Second Hurricane (1937), an operetta with a libretto by Edwin Denby. Presented at the Henry Street Settlement Music School in New York for the benefit of high school students, the production opened April 21, 1937, and ran its scheduled three performances. [19] : 337

In 1937, Welles rehearsed Marc Blitzstein's political operetta, The Cradle Will Rock. [46] It was originally scheduled to open June 16, 1937, in its first public preview. Because of severe federal cutbacks in the Works Progress projects, the show's premiere at the Maxine Elliott Theatre was canceled. The theater was locked and guarded to prevent any government-purchased materials from being used for a commercial production of the work. In a last-minute move, Welles announced to waiting ticket-holders that the show was being transferred to the Venice, 20 blocks away. Some cast, and some crew and audience, walked the distance on foot. The union musicians refused to perform in a commercial theater for lower non-union government wages. The actors' union stated that the production belonged to the Federal Theatre Project and could not be performed outside that context without permission. Lacking the participation of the union members, The Cradle Will Rock began with Blitzstein introducing the show and playing the piano accompaniment on stage with some cast members performing from the audience. This impromptu performance was well received by its audience.

Mercury Theatre Edit

Breaking with the Federal Theatre Project in 1937, Welles and Houseman founded their own repertory company, which they called the Mercury Theatre. The name was inspired by the title of the iconoclastic magazine, The American Mercury. [22] : 119–120 Welles was executive producer, and the original company included such actors as Joseph Cotten, George Coulouris, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Arlene Francis, Martin Gabel, John Hoyt, Norman Lloyd, Vincent Price, Stefan Schnabel and Hiram Sherman.

"I think he was the greatest directorial talent we've ever had in the [American] theater," Lloyd said of Welles in a 2014 interview. "When you saw a Welles production, you saw the text had been affected, the staging was remarkable, the sets were unusual, music, sound, lighting, a totality of everything. We had not had such a man in our theater. He was the first and remains the greatest." [47]

The Mercury Theatre opened November 11, 1937, with Caesar, Welles's modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy Julius Caesar—streamlined into an anti-fascist tour de force that Joseph Cotten later described as "so vigorous, so contemporary that it set Broadway on its ear." [45] : 108 The set was completely open with no curtain, and the brick stage wall was painted dark red. Scene changes were achieved by lighting alone. [48] : 165 On the stage was a series of risers squares were cut into one at intervals and lights were set beneath it, pointing straight up to evoke the "cathedral of light" at the Nuremberg Rallies. "He staged it like a political melodrama that happened the night before," said Lloyd. [47]

Beginning January 1, 1938, Caesar was performed in repertory with The Shoemaker's Holiday both productions moved to the larger National Theatre. They were followed by Heartbreak House (April 29, 1938) and Danton's Death (November 5, 1938). [38] : 344 As well as being presented in a pared-down oratorio version at the Mercury Theatre on Sunday nights in December 1937, The Cradle Will Rock was at the Windsor Theatre for 13 weeks (January 4 – April 2, 1938). [19] : 340 Such was the success of the Mercury Theatre that Welles appeared on the cover of Time magazine, in full makeup as Captain Shotover in Heartbreak House, in the issue dated May 9, 1938—three days after his 23rd birthday. [49]

Simultaneously with his work in the theatre, Welles worked extensively in radio as an actor, writer, director and producer, often without credit. [38] : 77 Between 1935 and 1937 he was earning as much as $2,000 a week, shuttling between radio studios at such a pace that he would arrive barely in time for a quick scan of his lines before he was on the air. While he was directing the Voodoo Macbeth Welles was dashing between Harlem and midtown Manhattan three times a day to meet his radio commitments. [26] : 172

In addition to continuing as a repertory player on The March of Time, in the fall of 1936 Welles adapted and performed Hamlet in an early two-part episode of CBS Radio's Columbia Workshop. His performance as the announcer in the series' April 1937 presentation of Archibald MacLeish's verse drama The Fall of the City was an important development in his radio career [38] : 78 and made the 21-year-old Welles an overnight star. [50] : 46

In July 1937, the Mutual Network gave Welles a seven-week series to adapt Les Misérables. It was his first job as a writer-director for radio, [19] : 338 the radio debut of the Mercury Theatre, and one of Welles's earliest and finest achievements. [51] : 160 He invented the use of narration in radio. [19] : 88

"By making himself the center of the storytelling process, Welles fostered the impression of self-adulation that was to haunt his career to his dying day", wrote critic Andrew Sarris. "For the most part, however, Welles was singularly generous to the other members of his cast and inspired loyalty from them above and beyond the call of professionalism." [50] : 8

That September, Mutual chose Welles to play Lamont Cranston, also known as The Shadow. He performed the role anonymously through mid-September 1938. [38] : 83 [52]

The Mercury Theatre on the Air Edit

After the theatrical successes of the Mercury Theatre, CBS Radio invited Orson Welles to create a summer show for 13 weeks. The series began July 11, 1938, initially titled First Person Singular, with the formula that Welles would play the lead in each show. Some months later the show was called The Mercury Theatre on the Air. [50] : 12 The weekly hour-long show presented radio plays based on classic literary works, with original music composed and conducted by Bernard Herrmann.

The Mercury Theatre's radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells October 30, 1938, brought Welles instant fame. The combination of the news bulletin form of the performance with the between-breaks dial spinning habits of listeners was later reported to have created widespread confusion among listeners who failed to hear the introduction, although the extent of this confusion has come into question. [4] [53] [54] [55] Panic was reportedly spread among listeners who believed the fictional news reports of a Martian invasion. [56] The myth of the result created by the combination was reported as fact around the world and disparagingly mentioned by Adolf Hitler in a public speech. [57]

Welles's growing fame drew Hollywood offers, lures that the independent-minded Welles resisted at first. The Mercury Theatre on the Air, which had been a sustaining show (without sponsorship) was picked up by Campbell Soup and renamed The Campbell Playhouse. [58] The Mercury Theatre on the Air made its last broadcast on December 4, 1938, and The Campbell Playhouse began five days later.

Welles began commuting from California to New York for the two Sunday broadcasts of The Campbell Playhouse after signing a film contract with RKO Pictures in August 1939. In November 1939, production of the show moved from New York to Los Angeles. [19] : 353

After 20 shows, Campbell began to exercise more creative control and had complete control over story selection. As his contract with Campbell came to an end, Welles chose not to sign on for another season. After the broadcast of March 31, 1940, Welles and Campbell parted amicably. [22] : 221–226

RKO Radio Pictures president George Schaefer eventually offered Welles what generally is considered the greatest contract offered to a filmmaker, much less to one who was untried. Engaging him to write, produce, direct and perform in two motion pictures, the contract subordinated the studio's financial interests to Welles's creative control, and broke all precedent by granting Welles the right of final cut. [59] : 1–2 After signing a summary agreement with RKO on July 22, Welles signed a full-length 63-page contract August 21, 1939. [19] : 353 The agreement was bitterly resented by the Hollywood studios and persistently mocked in the trade press. [59] : 2

Citizen Kane Edit

RKO rejected Welles's first two movie proposals, but agreed on the third offer – Citizen Kane. Welles co-wrote, produced and directed the film, and performed the lead role. [60] Welles conceived the project with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who was writing radio plays for The Campbell Playhouse. [59] : 16 Mankiewicz based the original outline of the film script on the life of William Randolph Hearst, whom he knew socially and came to hate after being exiled from Hearst's circle. [61] : 231

After agreeing on the storyline and character, Welles supplied Mankiewicz with 300 pages of notes and put him under contract to write the first draft screenplay under the supervision of John Houseman. Welles wrote his own draft, [19] : 54 then drastically condensed and rearranged both versions and added scenes of his own. The industry accused Welles of underplaying Mankiewicz's contribution to the script, but Welles countered the attacks by saying, "At the end, naturally, I was the one making the picture, after all—who had to make the decisions. I used what I wanted of Mank's and, rightly or wrongly, kept what I liked of my own." [19] : 54

Welles's project attracted some of Hollywood's best technicians, including cinematographer Gregg Toland. [60] For the cast, Welles primarily used actors from his Mercury Theatre. Filming Citizen Kane took ten weeks. [60]

Hearst's newspapers barred all reference to Citizen Kane and exerted enormous pressure on the Hollywood film community to force RKO to shelve the film. [59] : 111 RKO chief George Schaefer received a cash offer from MGM's Louis B. Mayer and other major studio executives if he would destroy the negative and existing prints of the film. [59] : 112

While waiting for Citizen Kane to be released, Welles produced and directed the original Broadway production of Native Son, a drama written by Paul Green and Richard Wright based on Wright's novel. Starring Canada Lee, the show ran March 24 – June 28, 1941, at the St. James Theatre. The Mercury Production was the last time Welles and Houseman worked together. [38] : 12

Citizen Kane was given a limited release and the film received overwhelming critical praise. It was voted the best picture of 1941 by the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. The film garnered nine Academy Award nominations but won only for Best Original Screenplay, shared by Mankiewicz and Welles. Variety reported that block voting by screen extras deprived Citizen Kane of Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor (Welles), and similar prejudices were likely to have been responsible for the film receiving no technical awards. [59] : 117

The delay in the film's release and uneven distribution contributed to mediocre results at the box office. After it ran its course theatrically, Citizen Kane was retired to the vault in 1942. In postwar France, however, the film's reputation grew after it was seen for the first time in 1946. [59] : 117–118 In the United States, it began to be re-evaluated after it began to appear on television in 1956. That year it was also re-released theatrically, [59] : 119 and film critic Andrew Sarris described it as "the great American film" and "the work that influenced the cinema more profoundly than any American film since The Birth of a Nation." [62] Citizen Kane is now widely hailed as one of the greatest films ever made. [63]

The Magnificent Ambersons Edit

Welles's second film for RKO was The Magnificent Ambersons, adapted by Welles from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Booth Tarkington. Toland was not available, so Stanley Cortez was named cinematographer. The meticulous Cortez worked slowly and the film lagged behind schedule and over budget. Prior to production, Welles's contract was renegotiated, revoking his right to control the final cut. [64] The Magnificent Ambersons was in production October 28, 1941 – January 22, 1942. [65]

Throughout the shooting of the film Welles was also producing a weekly half-hour radio series, The Orson Welles Show. Many of the Ambersons cast participated in the CBS Radio series, which ran from September 15, 1941, to February 2, 1942. [66] : 525

Journey into Fear Edit

At RKO's request, Welles worked on an adaptation of Eric Ambler's spy thriller, Journey into Fear, co-written with Joseph Cotten. In addition to acting in the film, Welles was the producer. Direction was credited to Norman Foster. Welles later said that they were in such a rush that the director of each scene was determined by whoever was closest to the camera. [19] : 165

Journey into Fear was in production January 6 – March 12, 1942. [67]

War work Edit

Goodwill ambassador Edit

In late November 1941, Welles was appointed as a goodwill ambassador to Latin America by Nelson Rockefeller, U.S. Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs and a principal stockholder in RKO Radio Pictures. [68] : 244 The mission of the OCIAA was cultural diplomacy, promoting hemispheric solidarity and countering the growing influence of the Axis powers in Latin America. [68] : 10–11 John Hay Whitney, head of the agency's Motion Picture Division, was asked by the Brazilian government to produce a documentary of the annual Rio Carnival celebration taking place in early February 1942. [68] : 40–41 In a telegram on December 20, 1941, Whitney wrote Welles, "Personally believe you would make great contribution to hemisphere solidarity with this project." [69] : 65

The OCIAA sponsored cultural tours to Latin America and appointed goodwill ambassadors including George Balanchine and the American Ballet, Bing Crosby, Aaron Copland, Walt Disney, John Ford and Rita Hayworth. Welles was thoroughly briefed in Washington, D.C., immediately before his departure for Brazil, and film scholar Catherine L. Benamou, a specialist in Latin American affairs, finds it "not unlikely" that he was among the goodwill ambassadors who were asked to gather intelligence for the U.S. government in addition to their cultural duties. She concludes that Welles's acceptance of Whitney's request was "a logical and patently patriotic choice". [68] : 245–247

In addition to working on his ill-fated film project It's All True, Welles was responsible for radio programs, lectures, interviews and informal talks as part of his OCIAA-sponsored cultural mission, which was regarded as a success. [70] : 192 He spoke on topics ranging from Shakespeare to visual art at gatherings of Brazil's elite, and his two intercontinental radio broadcasts in April 1942 were particularly intended to tell U.S. audiences that President Vargas was a partner with the Allies. Welles's ambassadorial mission was extended to permit his travel to other nations including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. [68] : 247–249, 328 Welles worked for more than half a year with no compensation. [68] : 41, 328 [70] : 189

Welles's own expectations for the film were modest. "It's All True was not going to make any cinematic history, nor was it intended to," he later said. "It was intended to be a perfectly honorable execution of my job as a goodwill ambassador, bringing entertainment to the Northern Hemisphere that showed them something about the Southern one." [24] : 253

It's All True Edit

In July 1941, Welles conceived It's All True as an omnibus film mixing documentary and docufiction [24] : 221 [68] : 27 in a project that emphasized the dignity of labor and celebrated the cultural and ethnic diversity of North America. It was to have been his third film for RKO, following Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). [71] : 109 Duke Ellington was put under contract to score a segment with the working title, "The Story of Jazz", drawn from Louis Armstrong's 1936 autobiography, Swing That Music. [72] : 232–233 Armstrong was cast to play himself in the brief dramatization of the history of jazz performance, from its roots to its place in American culture in the 1940s. [71] : 109 "The Story of Jazz" was to go into production in December 1941. [68] : 119–120

Mercury Productions purchased the stories for two other segments—"My Friend Bonito" and "The Captain's Chair"—from documentary filmmaker Robert J. Flaherty. [68] : 33, 326 Adapted by Norman Foster and John Fante, "My Friend Bonito" was the only segment of the original It's All True to go into production. [71] : 109 Filming took place in Mexico September–December 1941, with Norman Foster directing under Welles's supervision. [68] : 311

In December 1941, the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs asked Welles to make a film in Brazil that would showcase the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. [69] : 65 With filming of "My Friend Bonito" about two-thirds complete, Welles decided he could shift the geography of It's All True and incorporate Flaherty's story into an omnibus film about Latin America—supporting the Roosevelt administration's Good Neighbor policy, which Welles strongly advocated. [68] : 41, 246 In this revised concept, "The Story of Jazz" was replaced by the story of samba, a musical form with a comparable history and one that came to fascinate Welles. He also decided to do a ripped-from-the-headlines episode about the epic voyage of four poor Brazilian fishermen, the jangadeiros, who had become national heroes. Welles later said this was the most valuable story. [19] : 158–159 [38] : 15

Required to film the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro in early February 1942, Welles rushed to edit The Magnificent Ambersons and finish his acting scenes in Journey into Fear. He ended his lucrative CBS radio show [70] : 189 February 2, flew to Washington, D.C., for a briefing, and then lashed together a rough cut of Ambersons in Miami with editor Robert Wise. [19] : 369–370 Welles recorded the film's narration the night before he left for South America: "I went to the projection room at about four in the morning, did the whole thing, and then got on the plane and off to Rio—and the end of civilization as we know it." [19] : 115

Welles left for Brazil on February 4 and began filming in Rio on February 8, 1942. [19] : 369–370 At the time it did not seem that Welles's other film projects would be disrupted, but as film historian Catherine L. Benamou wrote, "the ambassadorial appointment would be the first in a series of turning points leading—in 'zigs' and 'zags,' rather than in a straight line—to Welles's loss of complete directorial control over both The Magnificent Ambersons and It's All True, the cancellation of his contract at RKO Radio Studio, the expulsion of his company Mercury Productions from the RKO lot, and, ultimately, the total suspension of It's All True. [68] : 46

In 1942 RKO Pictures underwent major changes under new management. Nelson Rockefeller, the primary backer of the Brazil project, left its board of directors, and Welles's principal sponsor at RKO, studio president George Schaefer, resigned. RKO took control of Ambersons and edited the film into what the studio considered a commercial format. Welles's attempts to protect his version ultimately failed. [65] [73] In South America, Welles requested resources to finish It's All True. Given a limited amount of black-and-white film stock and a silent camera, he was able to finish shooting the episode about the jangadeiros, but RKO refused to support further production on the film.

"So I was fired from RKO," Welles later recalled. "And they made a great publicity point of the fact that I had gone to South America without a script and thrown all this money away. I never recovered from that attack." [74] : 188 Later in 1942, when RKO Pictures began promoting its new corporate motto, "Showmanship In Place of Genius: A New Deal at RKO", [69] : 29 Welles understood it as a reference to him. [74] : 188

Radio (1942–43) Edit

Welles returned to the United States August 22, 1942, after more than six months in South America. [19] : 372 A week after his return [75] [76] he produced and emceed the first two hours of a seven-hour coast-to-coast War Bond drive broadcast titled I Pledge America. Airing August 29, 1942, on the Blue Network, the program was presented in cooperation with the United States Department of the Treasury, Western Union (which wired bond subscriptions free of charge) and the American Women's Voluntary Services. Featuring 21 dance bands and a score of stage and screen and radio stars, the broadcast raised more than $10 million—more than $146 million today [77] —for the war effort. [78] [79] [80] [81] [82] [83]

On October 12, 1942, Cavalcade of America presented Welles's radio play, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, an entertaining and factual look at the legend of Christopher Columbus.

"It belongs to a period when hemispheric unity was a crucial matter and many programs were being devoted to the common heritage of the Americas," wrote broadcasting historian Erik Barnouw. "Many such programs were being translated into Spanish and Portuguese and broadcast to Latin America, to counteract many years of successful Axis propaganda to that area. The Axis, trying to stir Latin America against Anglo-America, had constantly emphasized the differences between the two. It became the job of American radio to emphasize their common experience and essential unity." [84] : 3

Admiral of the Ocean Sea, also known as Columbus Day, begins with the words, "Hello Americans"—the title Welles would choose for his own series five weeks later. [19] : 373

Hello Americans, a CBS Radio series broadcast November 15, 1942 – January 31, 1943, was produced, directed and hosted by Welles under the auspices of the Office of the Coordinator for Inter-American Affairs. The 30-minute weekly program promoted inter-American understanding and friendship, drawing upon the research amassed for the ill-fated film, It's All True. [85] The series was produced concurrently with Welles's other CBS series, Ceiling Unlimited (November 9, 1942 – February 1, 1943), sponsored by the Lockheed-Vega Corporation. The program was conceived to glorify the aviation industry and dramatize its role in World War II. Welles's shows were regarded as significant contributions to the war effort. [50] : 64

Throughout the war Welles worked on patriotic radio programs including Command Performance, G.I. Journal, Mail Call, Nazi Eyes on Canada, Stage Door Canteen and Treasury Star Parade.

The Mercury Wonder Show Edit

In early 1943, the two concurrent radio series (Ceiling Unlimited, Hello Americans) that Orson Welles created for CBS to support the war effort had ended. Filming also had wrapped on the 1943 film adaptation of Jane Eyre and that fee, in addition to the income from his regular guest-star roles in radio, made it possible for Welles to fulfill a lifelong dream. He approached the War Assistance League of Southern California and proposed a show that evolved into a big-top spectacle, part circus and part magic show. He offered his services as magician and director, [86] : 40 and invested some $40,000 of his own money in an extravaganza he co-produced with his friend Joseph Cotten: The Mercury Wonder Show for Service Men. Members of the U.S. armed forces were admitted free of charge, while the general public had to pay. [87] : 26 The show entertained more than 1,000 service members each night, and proceeds went to the War Assistance League, a charity for military service personnel. [88]

The development of the show coincided with the resolution of Welles's oft-changing draft status in May 1943, when he was finally declared 4-F—unfit for military service—for a variety of medical reasons. "I felt guilty about the war," Welles told biographer Barbara Leaming. "I was guilt-ridden about my civilian status." [89] : 86 He had been publicly hounded about his patriotism since Citizen Kane, when the Hearst press began persistent inquiries about why Welles had not been drafted. [69] : 66–67 [90] [91]

The Mercury Wonder Show ran August 3 – September 9, 1943, in an 80-by-120-foot tent [88] located at 900 Cahuenga Boulevard, in the heart of Hollywood. [19] : 377 [87] : 26

At intermission on September 7, 1943, KMPC radio interviewed audience and cast members of The Mercury Wonder Show—including Welles and Rita Hayworth, who were married earlier that day. Welles remarked that The Mercury Wonder Show had been performed for approximately 48,000 members of the U.S. armed forces. [19] : 378 [38] : 129

Radio (1944–45) Edit

The idea of doing a radio variety show occurred to Welles after his success as substitute host of four consecutive episodes (March 14 – April 4, 1943) of The Jack Benny Program, radio's most popular show, when Benny contracted pneumonia on a performance tour of military bases. [22] : 368 [93] A half-hour variety show broadcast January 26 – July 19, 1944, on the Columbia Pacific Network, The Orson Welles Almanac presented sketch comedy, magic, mindreading, music and readings from classic works. Many of the shows originated on U.S. military camps, where Welles and his repertory company and guests entertained the troops with a reduced version of The Mercury Wonder Show. [50] : 64 [94] [95] The performances of the all-star jazz group Welles brought together for the show were so popular that the band became a regular feature and was an important force in reviving interest in traditional New Orleans jazz. [96] : 85 Welles was placed on the U.S. Treasury payroll on May 15, 1944, as an expert consultant for the duration of the war, with a retainer of $1 a year. [97] On the recommendation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau asked Welles to lead the Fifth War Loan Drive, which opened June 12 with a one-hour radio show on all four networks, broadcast from Texarkana, Texas. Including a statement by the President, [98] the program defined the causes of the war and encouraged Americans to buy $16 billion in bonds to finance the Normandy landings and the most violent phase of World War II. Welles produced additional war loan drive broadcasts on June 14 from the Hollywood Bowl, and June 16 from Soldier Field, Chicago. [22] : 371–373 Americans purchased $20.6 billion in War Bonds during the Fifth War Loan Drive, which ended on July 8, 1944. [99]

Welles campaigned ardently for Roosevelt in 1944. A longtime supporter and campaign speaker for FDR, he occasionally sent the president ideas and phrases that were sometimes incorporated into what Welles characterized as "less important speeches". [22] : 372, 374 One of these ideas was the joke in what came to be called the Fala speech, Roosevelt's nationally broadcast September 23 address to the International Teamsters Union which opened the 1944 presidential campaign. [24] : 292–293 [100]

Welles campaigned for the Roosevelt–Truman ticket almost full-time in the fall of 1944, traveling to nearly every state [22] : 373–374 to the detriment of his own health [24] : 293–294 and at his own expense. [12] : 219 In addition to his radio addresses he filled in for Roosevelt, opposite Republican presidential nominee Thomas E. Dewey, at The New York Herald Tribune Forum broadcast October 18 on the Blue Network. [19] : 386 [24] : 292 Welles accompanied FDR to his last campaign rally, speaking at an event November 4 at Boston's Fenway Park before 40,000 people, [24] : 294 [101] and took part in a historic election-eve campaign broadcast November 6 on all four radio networks. [19] : 387 [66] : 166–167

On November 21, 1944, Welles began his association with This Is My Best, a CBS radio series he would briefly produce, direct, write and host (March 13 – April 24, 1945). [102] [103] He wrote a political column called Orson Welles' Almanac (later titled Orson Welles Today) for The New York Post January–November 1945, and advocated the continuation of FDR's New Deal policies and his international vision, particularly the establishment of the United Nations and the cause of world peace. [69] : 84

On April 12, 1945, the day Franklin D. Roosevelt died, the Blue-ABC network marshalled its entire executive staff and national leaders to pay homage to the late president. "Among the outstanding programs which attracted wide attention was a special tribute delivered by Orson Welles", reported Broadcasting magazine. [104] Welles spoke at 10:10 p.m Eastern War Time, from Hollywood, and stressed the importance of continuing FDR's work: "He has no need for homage and we who loved him have no time for tears … Our fighting sons and brothers cannot pause tonight to mark the death of him whose name will be given to the age we live in." [105]

Welles presented another special broadcast on the death of Roosevelt the following evening: "We must move on beyond mere death to that free world which was the hope and labor of his life." [19] : 390 [51] : 242

He dedicated the April 17 episode of This Is My Best to Roosevelt and the future of America on the eve of the United Nations Conference on International Organization. [19] : 390 [102] [103] Welles was an advisor and correspondent for the Blue-ABC radio network's coverage of the San Francisco conference that formed the UN, taking place April 24 – June 23, 1945. He presented a half-hour dramatic program written by Ben Hecht on the opening day of the conference, and on Sunday afternoons (April 29 – June 10) he led a weekly discussion from the San Francisco Civic Auditorium. [106] [107]

The Stranger Edit

In the fall of 1945 Welles began work on The Stranger (1946), a film noir drama about a war crimes investigator who tracks a high-ranking Nazi fugitive to an idyllic New England town. Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young and Welles star. [108]

Producer Sam Spiegel initially planned to hire director John Huston, who had rewritten the screenplay by Anthony Veiller. When Huston entered the military, Welles was given the chance to direct and prove himself able to make a film on schedule and under budget [38] : 19 —something he was so eager to do that he accepted a disadvantageous contract. One of its concessions was that he would defer to the studio in any creative dispute. [22] : 379 [24] : 309–310

The Stranger was Welles's first job as a film director in four years. [19] : 391 He was told that if the film was successful he could sign a four-picture deal with International Pictures, making films of his own choosing. [22] : 379 Welles was given some degree of creative control, [38] : 19 and he endeavored to personalize the film and develop a nightmarish tone. [109] : 2:30 He worked on the general rewrite of the script and wrote scenes at the beginning of the picture that were shot but subsequently cut by the producers. [19] : 186 He filmed in long takes that largely thwarted the control given to editor Ernest J. Nims under the terms of the contract. [109] : 15:45

The Stranger was the first commercial film to use documentary footage from the Nazi concentration camps. [19] : 189 [110] Welles had seen the footage in early May 1945 [109] : 102:03 in San Francisco, [111] : 56 as a correspondent and discussion moderator at the UN Conference on International Organization. [24] : 304 He wrote of the Holocaust footage in his syndicated New York Post column May 7, 1945. [111] : 56–57

Completed a day ahead of schedule and under budget, [22] : 379–380 The Stranger was the only film made by Welles to have been a bona fide box office success upon its release. Its cost was $1.034 million 15 months after its release it had grossed $3.216 million. [112] Within weeks of the completion of the film, International Pictures backed out of its promised four-picture deal with Welles. No reason was given, but the impression was left that The Stranger would not make money. [22] : 381

Around the World Edit

In the summer of 1946, Welles moved to New York to direct the Broadway musical Around the World, a stage adaptation of the Jules Verne novel Around the World in Eighty Days with a book by Welles and music by Cole Porter. Producer Mike Todd, who would later produce the successful 1956 film adaptation, pulled out from the lavish and expensive production, leaving Welles to support the finances. When Welles ran out of money he convinced Columbia Pictures president Harry Cohn to send enough money to continue the show, and in exchange Welles promised to write, produce, direct and star in a film for Cohn for no further fee. The stage show soon failed due to poor box-office, with Welles unable to claim the losses on his taxes. [113]

Radio (1946) Edit

In 1946, Welles began two new radio series—The Mercury Summer Theatre of the Air for CBS, and Orson Welles Commentaries for ABC. While Mercury Summer Theatre featured half-hour adaptations of some classic Mercury radio shows from the 1930s, the first episode was a condensation of his Around the World stage play, and is the only record of Cole Porter's music for the project. Several original Mercury actors returned for the series, as well as Bernard Herrmann. Welles invested his earnings into his failing stage play. Commentaries was a political vehicle for him, continuing the themes from his New York Post column. Again, Welles lacked a clear focus, until the NAACP brought to his attention the case of Isaac Woodard. Welles brought significant attention to Woodard's cause. [114]

The last broadcast of Orson Welles Commentaries on October 6, 1946, marked the end of Welles's own radio shows. [19] : 401

The Lady from Shanghai Edit

The film that Welles was obliged to make in exchange for Harry Cohn's help in financing the stage production Around the World was The Lady from Shanghai, filmed in 1947 for Columbia Pictures. Intended as a modest thriller, the budget skyrocketed after Cohn suggested that Welles's then-estranged second wife Rita Hayworth co-star.

Cohn disliked Welles's rough cut, particularly the confusing plot and lack of close-ups, and was not in sympathy with Welles's Brechtian use of irony and black comedy, especially in a farcical courtroom scene. Cohn ordered extensive editing and re-shoots. After heavy editing by the studio, approximately one hour of Welles's first cut was removed, including much of a climactic confrontation scene in an amusement park funhouse. While expressing displeasure at the cuts, Welles was appalled particularly with the musical score. The film was considered a disaster in America at the time of release, though the closing shootout in a hall of mirrors (the use of mirrors being a recurrent motif of Welles') has since become a touchstone of film noir. Not long after release, Welles and Hayworth finalized their divorce.

Although The Lady from Shanghai was acclaimed in Europe, it was not embraced in the U.S. until decades later, where it is now often regarded as a classic of film noir. [115] A similar difference in reception on opposite sides of the Atlantic, followed by greater American acceptance, befell the Welles-inspired Chaplin film Monsieur Verdoux, originally to be directed by Welles starring Chaplin, then directed by Chaplin with the idea credited to Welles.

Macbeth Edit

Prior to 1948, Welles convinced Republic Pictures to let him direct a low-budget version of Macbeth, which featured highly stylized sets and costumes, and a cast of actors lip-syncing to a pre-recorded soundtrack, one of many innovative cost-cutting techniques Welles deployed in an attempt to make an epic film from B-movie resources. The script, adapted by Welles, is a violent reworking of Shakespeare's original, freely cutting and pasting lines into new contexts via a collage technique and recasting Macbeth as a clash of pagan and proto-Christian ideologies. Some voodoo trappings of the famous Welles/Houseman Negro Theatre stage adaptation are visible, especially in the film's characterization of the Weird Sisters, who create an effigy of Macbeth as a charm to enchant him. Of all Welles's post-Kane Hollywood productions, Macbeth is stylistically closest to Citizen Kane in its long takes and deep focus photography.

Republic initially trumpeted the film as an important work but decided it did not care for the Scottish accents and held up general release for almost a year after early negative press reaction, including Life ' s comment that Welles's film "doth foully slaughter Shakespeare." [116] Welles left for Europe, while co-producer and lifelong supporter Richard Wilson reworked the soundtrack. Welles returned and cut 20 minutes from the film at Republic's request and recorded narration to cover some gaps. The film was decried as a disaster. Macbeth had influential fans in Europe, especially the French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, who hailed the film's "crude, irreverent power" and careful shot design, and described the characters as haunting "the corridors of some dreamlike subway, an abandoned coal mine, and ruined cellars oozing with water." [117]

In Italy he starred as Cagliostro in the 1948 film Black Magic. His co-star, Akim Tamiroff, impressed Welles so much that Tamiroff would appear in four of Welles's productions during the 1950s and 1960s.

The following year, Welles starred as Harry Lime in Carol Reed's The Third Man, alongside Joseph Cotten, his friend and co-star from Citizen Kane, with a script by Graham Greene and a memorable score by Anton Karas.

A few years later, British radio producer Harry Alan Towers would resurrect the Lime character in the radio series The Adventures of Harry Lime.

Welles appeared as Cesare Borgia in the 1949 Italian film Prince of Foxes, with Tyrone Power and Mercury Theatre alumnus Everett Sloane, and as the Mongol warrior Bayan in the 1950 film version of the novel The Black Rose (again with Tyrone Power). [118]

Othello Edit

During this time, Welles was channeling his money from acting jobs into a self-financed film version of Shakespeare's play Othello. From 1949 to 1951, Welles worked on Othello, filming on location in Italy and Morocco. The film featured Welles's friends, Micheál Mac Liammóir as Iago and Hilton Edwards as Desdemona's father Brabantio. Suzanne Cloutier starred as Desdemona and Campbell Playhouse alumnus Robert Coote appeared as Iago's associate Roderigo.

Filming was suspended several times as Welles ran out of funds and left for acting jobs, accounted in detail in MacLiammóir's published memoir Put Money in Thy Purse. The American release prints had a technically flawed soundtrack, suffering from a dropout of sound at every quiet moment. Welles's daughter, Beatrice Welles-Smith, restored Othello in 1992 for a wide re-release. The restoration included reconstructing Angelo Francesco Lavagnino's original musical score, which was originally inaudible, and adding ambient stereo sound effects, which were not in the original film. The restoration went on to a successful theatrical run in America.

In 1952, Welles continued finding work in England after the success of the Harry Lime radio show. Harry Alan Towers offered Welles another series, The Black Museum, which ran for 52 weeks with Welles as host and narrator. Director Herbert Wilcox offered Welles the part of the murdered victim in Trent's Last Case, based on the novel by E. C. Bentley. In 1953, the BBC hired Welles to read an hour of selections from Walt Whitman's epic poem Song of Myself. Towers hired Welles again, to play Professor Moriarty in the radio series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.

Welles briefly returned to America to make his first appearance on television, starring in the Omnibus presentation of King Lear, broadcast live on CBS October 18, 1953. Directed by Peter Brook, the production costarred Natasha Parry, Beatrice Straight and Arnold Moss. [119]

In 1954, director George More O'Ferrall offered Welles the title role in the 'Lord Mountdrago' segment of Three Cases of Murder, co-starring Alan Badel. Herbert Wilcox cast Welles as the antagonist in Trouble in the Glen opposite Margaret Lockwood, Forrest Tucker and Victor McLaglen. Old friend John Huston cast him as Father Mapple in his 1956 film adaptation of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, starring Gregory Peck.

Mr. Arkadin Edit

Welles's next turn as director was the film Mr. Arkadin (1955), which was produced by his political mentor from the 1940s, Louis Dolivet. It was filmed in France, Germany, Spain and Italy on a very limited budget. Based loosely on several episodes of the Harry Lime radio show, it stars Welles as a billionaire who hires a man to delve into the secrets of his past. The film stars Robert Arden, who had worked on the Harry Lime series Welles's third wife, Paola Mori, whose voice was dubbed by actress Billie Whitelaw and guest stars Akim Tamiroff, Michael Redgrave, Katina Paxinou and Mischa Auer. Frustrated by his slow progress in the editing room, producer Dolivet removed Welles from the project and finished the film without him. Eventually, five different versions of the film would be released, two in Spanish and three in English. The version that Dolivet completed was retitled Confidential Report. In 2005 Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Museum oversaw a reconstruction of the surviving film elements.

Television projects Edit

In 1955, Welles also directed two television series for the BBC. The first was Orson Welles' Sketch Book, a series of six 15-minute shows featuring Welles drawing in a sketchbook to illustrate his reminiscences for the camera (including such topics as the filming of It's All True and the Isaac Woodard case), and the second was Around the World with Orson Welles, a series of six travelogues set in different locations around Europe (such as Vienna, the Basque Country between France and Spain, and England). Welles served as host and interviewer, his commentary including documentary facts and his own personal observations (a technique he would continue to explore in later works).

During Episode 3 of Sketchbook, Welles makes a deliberate attack on the abuse of police powers around the world. The episode starts with him telling the story of Isaac Woodard, an African-American veteran of the South Pacific during World War II being falsely accused by a bus driver of being drunk and disorderly, who then has a policeman remove the man from the bus. Woodard is not arrested right away, but rather he is beaten into unconsciousness nearly to the point of death and when he finally regains consciousness he is permanently blinded. By the time doctors from the US Army located him three weeks later, there was nothing that could be done. Welles assures the audience that he personally saw to it that justice was served to this policeman although he doesn't mention what type of justice was delivered. Welles then goes on to give other examples of police being given more power and authority than is necessary. The title of this episode is "The Police".

In 1956, Welles completed Portrait of Gina. He left the only copy of it in his room at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris. The film cans would remain in a lost-and-found locker at the hotel for several decades, where they were discovered in 1986, after Welles's death.

In 1956, Welles returned to Hollywood. [120]

He began filming a projected pilot for Desilu, owned by Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, who had recently purchased the former RKO studios. The film was The Fountain of Youth, based on a story by John Collier. Originally deemed not viable as a pilot, the film was not aired until 1958—and won the Peabody Award for excellence.

Welles guest starred on television shows including I Love Lucy. [121] On radio, he was narrator of Tomorrow (October 17, 1956), a nuclear holocaust drama produced and syndicated by ABC and the Federal Civil Defense Administration. [122] [123]

Welles's next feature film role was in Man in the Shadow for Universal Pictures in 1957, starring Jeff Chandler.

Touch of Evil Edit

Welles stayed on at Universal to direct (and co-star with) Charlton Heston in the 1958 film Touch of Evil, based on Whit Masterson's novel Badge of Evil. Originally only hired as an actor, Welles was promoted to director by Universal Studios at the insistence of Charlton Heston. [124] : 154 The film reunited many actors and technicians with whom Welles had worked in Hollywood in the 1940s, including cameraman Russell Metty (The Stranger), makeup artist Maurice Seiderman (Citizen Kane), and actors Joseph Cotten, Marlene Dietrich and Akim Tamiroff. Filming proceeded smoothly, with Welles finishing on schedule and on budget, and the studio bosses praising the daily rushes. Nevertheless, after the end of production, the studio re-edited the film, re-shot scenes, and shot new exposition scenes to clarify the plot. [124] : 175–176 Welles wrote a 58-page memo outlining suggestions and objections, stating that the film was no longer his version—it was the studio's, but as such, he was still prepared to help with it. [124] : 175–176

In 1978, a longer preview version of the film was discovered and released.

As Universal reworked Touch of Evil, Welles began filming his adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes's novel Don Quixote in Mexico, starring Mischa Auer as Quixote and Akim Tamiroff as Sancho Panza.

He continued shooting Don Quixote in Spain and Italy, but replaced Mischa Auer with Francisco Reiguera, and resumed acting jobs. In Italy in 1959, Welles directed his own scenes as King Saul in Richard Pottier's film David and Goliath. In Hong Kong, he co-starred with Curt Jürgens in Lewis Gilbert's film Ferry to Hong Kong. In 1960, in Paris he co-starred in Richard Fleischer's film Crack in the Mirror. In Yugoslavia he starred in Richard Thorpe's film The Tartars and Veljko Bulajić's Battle of Neretva.

Throughout the 1960s, filming continued on Quixote on-and-off until the end of the decade, as Welles evolved the concept, tone and ending several times. Although he had a complete version of the film shot and edited at least once, he would continue toying with the editing well into the 1980s, he never completed a version of the film he was fully satisfied with and would junk existing footage and shoot new footage. (In one case, he had a complete cut ready in which Quixote and Sancho Panza end up going to the moon, but he felt the ending was rendered obsolete by the 1969 moon landings and burned 10 reels of this version.) As the process went on, Welles gradually voiced all of the characters himself and provided narration. In 1992, the director Jesús Franco constructed a film out of the portions of Quixote left behind by Welles. Some of the film stock had decayed badly. While the Welles footage was greeted with interest, the post-production by Franco was met with harsh criticism.

In 1961, Welles directed In the Land of Don Quixote, a series of eight half-hour episodes for the Italian television network RAI. Similar to the Around the World with Orson Welles series, they presented travelogues of Spain and included Welles's wife, Paola, and their daughter, Beatrice. Though Welles was fluent in Italian, the network was not interested in him providing Italian narration because of his accent, and the series sat unreleased until 1964, by which time the network had added Italian narration of its own. Ultimately, versions of the episodes were released with the original musical score Welles had approved, but without the narration.

The Trial Edit

In 1962, Welles directed his adaptation of The Trial, based on the novel by Franz Kafka and produced by Michael and Alexander Salkind. The cast included Anthony Perkins as Josef K, Jeanne Moreau, Romy Schneider, Paola Mori and Akim Tamiroff. While filming exteriors in Zagreb, Welles was informed that the Salkinds had run out of money, meaning that there could be no set construction. No stranger to shooting on found locations, Welles soon filmed the interiors in the Gare d'Orsay, at that time an abandoned railway station in Paris. Welles thought the location possessed a "Jules Verne modernism" and a melancholy sense of "waiting", both suitable for Kafka. To remain in the spirit of Kafka Welles set up the cutting room together with the Film Editor, Frederick Muller (as Fritz Muller), in the old un-used, cold, depressing, station master office. The film failed at the box-office. Peter Bogdanovich would later observe that Welles found the film riotously funny. Welles also told a BBC interviewer that it was his best film. [125] While filming The Trial Welles met Oja Kodar, who later became his partner and collaborator for the last 20 years of his life. [19] : 428

Welles played a film director in La Ricotta (1963), Pier Paolo Pasolini's segment of the Ro.Go.Pa.G. movie, although his renowned voice was dubbed by Italian writer Giorgio Bassani. [19] : 516 He continued taking what work he could find acting, narrating or hosting other people's work, and began filming Chimes at Midnight, which was completed in 1965.

Chimes at Midnight Edit

Filmed in Spain, Chimes at Midnight was based on Welles's play, Five Kings, in which he drew material from six Shakespeare plays to tell the story of Sir John Falstaff (Welles) and his relationship with Prince Hal (Keith Baxter). The cast includes John Gielgud, Jeanne Moreau, Fernando Rey and Margaret Rutherford the film's narration, spoken by Ralph Richardson, is taken from the chronicler Raphael Holinshed. [38] : 249 Welles held the film in high regard: "It's my favorite picture, yes. If I wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie, that's the one I would offer up." [74] : 203

In 1966, Welles directed a film for French television, an adaptation of The Immortal Story, by Karen Blixen. Released in 1968, it stars Jeanne Moreau, Roger Coggio and Norman Eshley. The film had a successful run in French theaters. At this time Welles met Oja Kodar again, and gave her a letter he had written to her and had been keeping for four years they would not be parted again. They immediately began a collaboration both personal and professional. The first of these was an adaptation of Blixen's The Heroine, meant to be a companion piece to The Immortal Story and starring Kodar. Unfortunately, funding disappeared after one day's shooting. After completing this film, he appeared in a brief cameo as Cardinal Wolsey in Fred Zinnemann's adaptation of A Man for All Seasons—a role for which he won considerable acclaim.

In 1967, Welles began directing The Deep, based on the novel Dead Calm by Charles Williams and filmed off the shore of Yugoslavia. The cast included Jeanne Moreau, Laurence Harvey and Kodar. Personally financed by Welles and Kodar, they could not obtain the funds to complete the project, and it was abandoned a few years later after the death of Harvey. The surviving footage was eventually edited and released by the Filmmuseum München. In 1968 Welles began filming a TV special for CBS under the title Orson's Bag, combining travelogue, comedy skits and a condensation of Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice with Welles as Shylock. In 1969 Welles called again the Film Editor Frederick Muller to work with him re-editing the material and they set up cutting rooms at the Safa Palatino Studios in Rome. Funding for the show sent by CBS to Welles in Switzerland was seized by the IRS. Without funding, the show was not completed. The surviving film clips portions were eventually released by the Filmmuseum München.

In 1969, Welles authorized the use of his name for a cinema in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Orson Welles Cinema remained in operation until 1986, with Welles making a personal appearance there in 1977. Also in 1969, he played a supporting role in John Huston's The Kremlin Letter. Drawn by the numerous offers he received to work in television and films, and upset by a tabloid scandal reporting his affair with Kodar, Welles abandoned the editing of Don Quixote and moved back to America in 1970.

Welles returned to Hollywood, where he continued to self-finance his film and television projects. While offers to act, narrate and host continued, Welles also found himself in great demand on television talk shows. He made frequent appearances for Dick Cavett, Johnny Carson, Dean Martin and Merv Griffin.

Welles's primary focus during his final years was The Other Side of the Wind, a project that was filmed intermittently between 1970 and 1976. Co-written by Welles and Oja Kodar, it is the story of an aging film director (John Huston) looking for funds to complete his final film. The cast includes Peter Bogdanovich, Susan Strasberg, Norman Foster, Edmond O'Brien, Cameron Mitchell and Dennis Hopper. Financed by Iranian backers, ownership of the film fell into a legal quagmire after the Shah of Iran was deposed. The legal disputes kept the film in its unfinished state until early 2017 and was finally released in November 2018.

Welles portrayed Louis XVIII of France in the 1970 film Waterloo, and narrated the beginning and ending scenes of the historical comedy Start the Revolution Without Me (1970).

In 1971, Welles directed a short adaptation of Moby-Dick, a one-man performance on a bare stage, reminiscent of his 1955 stage production Moby Dick—Rehearsed. Never completed, it was eventually released by the Filmmuseum München. He also appeared in Ten Days' Wonder, co-starring with Anthony Perkins and directed by Claude Chabrol (who reciprocated with a bit part as himself in Other Wind), based on a detective novel by Ellery Queen. That same year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him an Academy Honorary Award "for superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures." Welles pretended to be out of town and sent John Huston to claim the award, thanking the Academy on film. In his speech, Huston criticized the Academy for presenting the award while refusing to support Welles's projects.

In 1972, Welles acted as on-screen narrator for the film documentary version of Alvin Toffler's 1970 book Future Shock. Working again for a British producer, Welles played Long John Silver in director John Hough's Treasure Island (1972), an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, which had been the second story broadcast by The Mercury Theatre on the Air in 1938. This was the last time he played the lead role in a major film. Welles also contributed to the script, although his writing credit was attributed to the pseudonym 'O. W. Jeeves'. In some versions of the film Welles's original recorded dialog was redubbed by Robert Rietty.

In 1973, Welles completed F for Fake, a personal essay film about art forger Elmyr de Hory and the biographer Clifford Irving. Based on an existing documentary by François Reichenbach, it included new material with Oja Kodar, Joseph Cotten, Paul Stewart and William Alland. An excerpt of Welles's 1930s War of the Worlds broadcast was recreated for this film however, none of the dialogue heard in the film actually matches what was originally broadcast. Welles filmed a five-minute trailer, rejected in the U.S., that featured several shots of a topless Kodar.

Welles hosted a British syndicated anthology series, Orson Welles's Great Mysteries, during the 1973–74 television season. His brief introductions to the 26 half-hour episodes were shot in July 1973 by Gary Graver. [19] : 443 The year 1974 also saw Welles lending his voice for that year's remake of Agatha Christie's classic thriller Ten Little Indians produced by his former associate, Harry Alan Towers and starring an international cast that included Oliver Reed, Elke Sommer and Herbert Lom.

In 1975, Welles narrated the documentary Bugs Bunny: Superstar, focusing on Warner Bros. cartoons from the 1940s. Also in 1975, the American Film Institute presented Welles with its third Lifetime Achievement Award (the first two going to director John Ford and actor James Cagney). At the ceremony, Welles screened two scenes from the nearly finished The Other Side of the Wind.

In 1976, Paramount Television purchased the rights for the entire set of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories for Orson Welles. [c] [129] [130] [131] Welles had once wanted to make a series of Nero Wolfe movies, but Rex Stout—who was leery of Hollywood adaptations during his lifetime after two disappointing 1930s films—turned him down. [130] Paramount planned to begin with an ABC-TV movie and hoped to persuade Welles to continue the role in a mini-series. [129] Frank D. Gilroy was signed to write the television script and direct the TV movie on the assurance that Welles would star, but by April 1977 Welles had bowed out. [132] In 1980 the Associated Press reported "the distinct possibility" that Welles would star in a Nero Wolfe TV series for NBC television. [133] Again, Welles bowed out of the project due to creative differences and William Conrad was cast in the role. [134] [135] : 87–88

In 1979, Welles completed his documentary Filming Othello, which featured Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards. Made for West German television, it was also released in theaters. That same year, Welles completed his self-produced pilot for The Orson Welles Show television series, featuring interviews with Burt Reynolds, Jim Henson and Frank Oz and guest-starring the Muppets and Angie Dickinson. Unable to find network interest, the pilot was never broadcast. Also in 1979, Welles appeared in the biopic The Secret of Nikola Tesla, and a cameo in The Muppet Movie as Lew Lord.

Beginning in the late 1970s, Welles participated in a series of famous television commercial advertisements. For two years he was on-camera spokesman for the Paul Masson Vineyards, [d] and sales grew by one third during the time Welles intoned what became a popular catchphrase: "We will sell no wine before its time." [137] He was also the voice behind the long-running Carlsberg "Probably the best lager in the world" campaign, [138] promoted Domecq sherry on British television [139] and provided narration on adverts for Findus, though the actual adverts have been overshadowed by a famous blooper reel of voice recordings, known as the Frozen Peas reel. He also did commercials for the Preview Subscription Television Service seen on stations around the country including WCLQ/Cleveland, KNDL/St. Louis and WSMW/Boston. As money ran short, he began directing commercials to make ends meet, including the famous British "Follow the Bear" commercials for Hofmeister lager. [140]

In 1981, Welles hosted the documentary The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, about Renaissance-era prophet Nostradamus. In 1982, the BBC broadcast The Orson Welles Story in the Arena series. Interviewed by Leslie Megahey, Welles examined his past in great detail, and several people from his professional past were interviewed as well. It was reissued in 1990 as With Orson Welles: Stories of a Life in Film. Welles provided narration for the tracks "Defender" from Manowar's 1987 album Fighting the World and "Dark Avenger" on their 1982 album, Battle Hymns. He also recorded the concert introduction for the live performances of Manowar that says, "Ladies and gentlemen, from the United States of America, all hail Manowar." Manowar have been using this introduction for all of their concerts since then. [ citation needed ]

During the 1980s, Welles worked on such film projects as The Dreamers, based on two stories by Isak Dinesen and starring Oja Kodar, and Orson Welles' Magic Show, which reused material from his failed TV pilot. Another project he worked on was Filming The Trial, the second in a proposed series of documentaries examining his feature films. While much was shot for these projects, none of them was completed. All of them were eventually released by the Filmmuseum München.

In 1984, Welles narrated the short-lived television series Scene of the Crime. During the early years of Magnum, P.I., Welles was the voice of the unseen character Robin Masters, a famous writer and playboy. Welles's death forced this minor character to largely be written out of the series. In an oblique homage to Welles, the Magnum, P.I. producers ambiguously concluded that story arc by having one character accuse another of having hired an actor to portray Robin Masters. [141] He also, in this penultimate year released a music single, titled "I Know What It Is To Be Young (But You Don't Know What It Is To Be Old)", which he recorded under Italian label Compagnia Generale del Disco. The song was performed with the Nick Perito Orchestra and the Ray Charles Singers and produced by Jerry Abbott (father of guitarist "Dimebag Darrell" Abbott). [142]

The last film roles before Welles's death included voice work in the animated films Enchanted Journey (1984) and The Transformers: The Movie (1986), in which he played the planet-eating robot Unicron. His last film appearance was in Henry Jaglom's 1987 independent film Someone to Love, released two years after his death but produced before his voice-over in Transformers: The Movie. His last television appearance was on the television show Moonlighting. He recorded an introduction to an episode entitled "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice", which was partially filmed in black and white. The episode aired five days after his death and was dedicated to his memory.

In the mid-1980s, Henry Jaglom taped lunch conversations with Welles at Los Angeles's Ma Maison as well as in New York. Edited transcripts of these sessions appear in Peter Biskind's 2013 book My Lunches With Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles. [143]

Relationships and family Edit

Orson Welles and Chicago-born actress and socialite Virginia Nicolson (1916–1996) were married on November 14, 1934. [19] : 332 The couple separated in December 1939 [22] : 226 and were divorced on February 1, 1940. [144] [145] After bearing with Welles's romances in New York, Virginia had learned that Welles had fallen in love with Mexican actress Dolores del Río. [22] : 227

Infatuated with her since adolescence, Welles met del Río at Darryl Zanuck's ranch [24] : 206 soon after he moved to Hollywood in 1939. [22] : 227 [24] : 168 Their relationship was kept secret until 1941, when del Río filed for divorce from her second husband. They openly appeared together in New York while Welles was directing the Mercury stage production Native Son. [24] : 212 They acted together in the movie Journey into Fear (1943). Their relationship came to an end due, among other things, to Welles's infidelities. Del Río returned to Mexico in 1943, shortly before Welles married Rita Hayworth. [146]

Welles married Rita Hayworth on September 7, 1943. [24] : 278 They were divorced on November 10, 1947. [89] : 142 During his last interview, recorded for The Merv Griffin Show on the evening before his death, Welles called Hayworth "one of the dearest and sweetest women that ever lived … and we were a long time together—I was lucky enough to have been with her longer than any of the other men in her life." [147]

In 1955, Welles married actress Paola Mori (née Countess Paola di Gerfalco), an Italian aristocrat who starred as Raina Arkadin in his 1955 film, Mr. Arkadin. The couple began a passionate affair, and they were married at her parents' insistence. [28] : 168 They were wed in London May 8, 1955, [19] : 417, 419 and never divorced.

Croatian-born artist and actress Oja Kodar became Welles's longtime companion both personally and professionally from 1966 onward, and they lived together for some of the last 20 years of his life. [28] : 255–258

Welles had three daughters from his marriages: Christopher Welles Feder (born March 27, 1938, with Virginia Nicolson) [e] [24] : 148 Rebecca Welles Manning (December 17, 1944 – October 17, 2004, [148] with Rita Hayworth) and Beatrice Welles (born November 13, 1955, with Paola Mori). [19] : 419

Welles is thought to have had a son, British director Michael Lindsay-Hogg (born May 5, 1940), with Irish actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, then the wife of Sir Edward Lindsay-Hogg, 4th baronet. [34] [149] When Lindsay-Hogg was 16, his mother reluctantly divulged pervasive rumors that his father was Welles, and she denied them—but in such detail that he doubted her veracity. [150] [151] : 15 Fitzgerald evaded the subject for the rest of her life. Lindsay-Hogg knew Welles, worked with him in the theatre and met him at intervals throughout Welles's life. [149] After learning that Welles's oldest daughter, Chris, his childhood playmate, had long suspected that he was her brother, [152] Lindsay-Hogg initiated a DNA test that proved inconclusive. In his 2011 autobiography, Lindsay-Hogg reported that his questions were resolved by his mother's close friend Gloria Vanderbilt, who wrote that Fitzgerald had told her that Welles was his father. [151] : 265–267 A 2015 Welles biography by Patrick McGilligan, however, reports the impossibility of Welles's paternity: Fitzgerald left the U.S. for Ireland in May 1939, and her son was conceived before her return in late October, whereas Welles did not travel overseas during that period. [14] : 602

After the death of Rebecca Welles Manning, a man named Marc McKerrow was revealed to be her son—and therefore a direct descendant of Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth—after he requested his adoption records unsealed. While McKerrow and Rebecca were never able to meet due to her cancer, they were in touch before her death, and he attended her funeral.

McKerrow's reactions to the revelation and his meeting with Oja Kodar are documented in the 2008 film Prodigal Sons by his sister Kim Reed. [153] McKerrow died on June 18, 2010, suddenly in his sleep at the age of 44. His death was ". caused by complications from a nocturnal seizure" related to a car accident and resulting injury when he was younger. [154] [155]

In the 1940s, Welles had a brief relationship with Maila Nurmi, who, according to the bio Glamour Ghoul: The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi, became pregnant since Welles was at the time married to Hayworth, Nurmi gave the child up for adoption. [156]

However, the child mentioned in the book was born in 1944. Nurmi revealed in an interview weeks before her death in January 2008 how she met Welles in a New York casting office in the spring of 1946. [157]

Despite an urban legend promoted by Welles, [f] [g] he was not related to Abraham Lincoln's wartime Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles. The myth dates back to the first newspaper feature ever written about Welles—"Cartoonist, Actor, Poet and only 10"—in the February 19, 1926, issue of The Capital Times. The article falsely states that he was descended from "Gideon Welles, who was a member of President Lincoln's cabinet". [12] : 47–48 [69] : 311 As presented by Charles Higham in a genealogical chart that introduces his 1985 biography of Welles, Orson Welles's father was Richard Head Welles (born Wells), son of Richard Jones Wells, son of Henry Hill Wells (who had an uncle named Gideon Wells), son of William Hill Wells, son of Richard Wells (1734–1801). [12]

Physical characteristics Edit

Peter Noble's 1956 biography describes Welles as "a magnificent figure of a man, over six feet tall, handsome, with flashing eyes and a gloriously resonant speaking-voice". [160] : 19 Welles said that a voice specialist once told him he was born to be a heldentenor, a heroic tenor, but that when he was young and working at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, he forced his voice down into a bass-baritone. [23] : 144

Even as a baby, Welles was prone to illness, including diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, and malaria. From infancy he suffered from asthma, sinus headaches, and backache [22] : 8 that was later found to be caused by congenital anomalies of the spine. Foot and ankle trouble throughout his life was the result of flat feet. [161] : 560 "As he grew older", Brady wrote, "his ill health was exacerbated by the late hours he was allowed to keep [and] an early penchant for alcohol and tobacco". [22] : 8

In 1928, at age 13, Welles was already more than six feet tall (1.83 meters) and weighed over 180 pounds (81.6 kg). [12] : 50 His passport recorded his height as six feet three inches (192 cm), with brown hair and green eyes. [28] : 229

"Crash diets, [pharmaceutical] drugs, and corsets had slimmed him for his early film roles", wrote biographer Barton Whaley. "Then always back to gargantuan consumption of high-caloric food and booze. By summer 1949, when he was 34, his weight had crept up to a stout 230 pounds (104 kg). In 1953, he ballooned from 250 to 275 pounds (113 to 125 kg). After 1960, he remained permanently obese." [162] : 329

Religious beliefs Edit

When Peter Bogdanovich once asked him about his religion, Welles gruffly replied that it was none of his business, then misinformed him that he was raised Catholic. [19] : xxx [162] : 12

Although the Welles family was no longer devout, it was fourth-generation Protestant Episcopalian and, before that, Quaker and Puritan. [162] : 12

The funeral of Welles's father, Richard H. Welles, was Episcopalian. [162] : 12 [163]

In April 1982, when interviewer Merv Griffin asked him about his religious beliefs, Welles replied, "I try to be a Christian. I don't pray really, because I don't want to bore God." [22] : 576 Near the end of his life, Welles was dining at Ma Maison, his favorite restaurant in Los Angeles, when proprietor Patrick Terrail conveyed an invitation from the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, who asked Welles to be his guest of honor at divine liturgy at Saint Sophia Cathedral. Welles replied, "Please tell him I really appreciate that offer, but I am an atheist." [164] : 104–105

"Orson never joked or teased about the religious beliefs of others", wrote biographer Barton Whaley. "He accepted it as a cultural artifact, suitable for the births, deaths, and marriages of strangers and even some friends—but without emotional or intellectual meaning for himself." [162] : 12

Welles was politically active from the beginning of his career. He remained aligned with the left throughout his life, [165] and always defined his political orientation as "progressive". He was an outspoken critic of racism in the United States and the practice of segregation. [69] : 46 He was a strong supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal and often spoke out on radio in support of progressive politics. [165] He campaigned heavily for Roosevelt in the 1944 election. [165] Welles did not support the 1948 presidential bid of Roosevelt's second vice president Henry A. Wallace for the Progressive Party, later describing Wallace as "a prisoner of the Communist Party." [143] p. 66

"During a White House dinner," Welles recalled in a 1983 conversation with his friend Roger Hill, "when I was campaigning for Roosevelt, in a toast, with considerable tongue in cheek, he said, 'Orson, you and I are the two greatest actors alive today.' In private that evening, and on several other occasions, he urged me to run for a Senate seat in either California or Wisconsin. He wasn't alone." [23] : 115 In the 1980s, Welles still expressed admiration for Roosevelt but also described his presidency as "a semidictatorship." [166] p. 187

During a 1970 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Welles claimed to have met Hitler while hiking in Austria with a teacher who was a "budding Nazi". He said that Hitler made no impression on him at all and does not remember him. He said that he had no personality at all: "He was invisible. There was nothing there until there were 5,000 people yelling sieg heil." [167]

For several years, he wrote a newspaper column on political issues and considered running for the U.S. Senate in 1946, representing his home state of Wisconsin—a seat that was ultimately won by Joseph McCarthy. [165]

Welles's political activities were reported on pages 155–157 of Red Channels, the anti-Communist publication that, in part, fueled the already flourishing Hollywood Blacklist. [168] He was in Europe during the height of the Red Scare, thereby adding one more reason for the Hollywood establishment to ostracize him. [169]

In 1970, Welles narrated (but did not write) a satirical political record on the rise of President Richard Nixon titled The Begatting of the President. [170]

On the evening of October 9, 1985, Welles recorded his final interview on the 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. [22] : 590–591 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. [19] : 453 He was found by his chauffeur at around 10 a.m. the first of Welles's friends to arrive was Paul Stewart. [69] : 295–297 Welles was 70 years old at his death.

Welles was cremated by prior agreement with the executor of his estate, Greg Garrison, [22] : 592 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. [22] : 549–550 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 [69] : 298 and Prince Alessandro Tasca di Cuto. Chris Welles Feder later described the funeral as an awful experience. [28] : 1–9

A public memorial tribute [22] : 593 took place November 2, 1985, at the Directors Guild of America Theater in Los Angeles. Host Peter Bogdanovich introduced speakers including Charles Champlin, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Greg Garrison, Charlton Heston, Roger Hill, Henry Jaglom, Arthur Knight, Oja Kodar, Barbara Leaming, Janet Leigh, Norman Lloyd, Dan O'Herlihy, Patrick Terrail and Robert Wise. [22] : 594 [69] : 299–300

"I know what his feelings were regarding his death", Joseph Cotten later wrote. "He did not want a funeral he wanted to be buried quietly in a little place in Spain. He wanted no memorial services . " Cotten declined to attend the memorial program instead, he sent a short message, ending with the last two lines of a Shakespeare sonnet that Welles had sent him on his most recent birthday: [45] : 216

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end. [45] : 217

In 1987 the ashes of Welles and Mori (killed in a 1986 car crash [172] ) were taken to Ronda, Spain, and buried in an old well covered by flowers on the rural estate of a longtime friend, bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez. [69] : 298–299 [173] [h] [i]

Welles's reliance on self-production meant that many of his later projects were filmed piecemeal or were not completed. Welles financed his later projects through his own fundraising activities. He often also took on other work to obtain money to fund his own films.

Don Quixote Edit

In the mid-1950s, Welles began work on Don Quixote, initially a commission from CBS television. Welles expanded the film to feature length, developing the screenplay to take Quixote and Sancho Panza into the modern age. Filming stopped with the death of Francisco Reiguera, the actor playing Quixote, in 1969. Orson Welles continued editing the film into the early 1970s. At the time of his death, the film remained largely a collection of footage in various states of editing. The project and, more important, Welles's conception of the project changed radically over time.

A version Oja Kodar supervised, with help from Jess Franco, assistant director during production, was released in 1992 to poor reviews. [174]

Frederick Muller, the film editor for The Trial, Chimes at Midnight, and the CBS Special Orson Bag, worked on editing three reels of the original, unadulterated version. When asked in 2013 by a journalist of Time Out for his opinion, he said that he felt that if released without image re-editing but with the addition of ad hoc sound and music, it probably would have been rather successful.

The Merchant of Venice Edit

In 1969, Welles was given a TV commission to film a condensed adaptation of The Merchant of Venice. [74] : XXXIV Welles completed the film by 1970, but the finished negative was later mysteriously stolen from his Rome production office. [69] : 234 A restored and reconstructed version of the film, made by using the original script and composer's notes, premiered at pre-opening ceremonies of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, alongside Othello, in 2015. [175]

The Other Side of the Wind Edit

In 1970, Welles began shooting The Other Side of the Wind. The film relates the efforts of a film director (played by John Huston) to complete his last Hollywood picture and is largely set at a lavish party. By 1972 the filming was reported by Welles as being "96% complete", [22] : 546 though by 1979 Welles had only edited about 40 minutes of the film. [7] : 320 In that year, legal complications over the ownership of the film put the negative into a Paris vault. In 2004 director Peter Bogdanovich, who acted in the film, announced his intention to complete the production.

On October 28, 2014, Los Angeles-based production company Royal Road Entertainment announced it had negotiated an agreement, with the assistance of producer Frank Marshall, and would purchase the rights to complete and release The Other Side of the Wind. Bogdanovich and Marshall planned to complete Welles's nearly finished film in Los Angeles, aiming to have it ready for screening on May 6, 2015, the 100th anniversary of Welles's birth. [176] Royal Road Entertainment and German producer Jens Koethner Kaul acquired the rights held by Les Films de l'Astrophore and the late Mehdi Boushehri. They reached an agreement with Oja Kodar, who inherited Welles's ownership of the film, and Beatrice Welles, manager of the Welles estate [177] but at the end of 2015, efforts to complete the film were at an impasse. [178]

In March 2017, Netflix acquired distribution rights to the film. [179] [180] That month, the original negative, dailies and other footage arrived in Los Angeles for post-production the film was completed in 2018. [181] The film premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2018. [182]

On November 2, 2018, the film debuted in select theaters and on Netflix, forty-eight years after principal photography began.

Some footage is included in the documentaries Working with Orson Welles (1993), Orson Welles: One Man Band (1995), and most extensively They'll Love Me When I'm Dead (2018).

Other unfinished films and unfilmed screenplays Edit

Too Much Johnson Edit

Too Much Johnson is a 1938 comedy film written and directed by Welles. Designed as the cinematic aspect of Welles's Mercury Theatre stage presentation of William Gillette's 1894 comedy, the film was not completely edited or publicly screened. Too Much Johnson was considered a lost film until August 2013, with news reports that a pristine print had been discovered in Italy in 2008. A copy restored by the George Eastman House museum was scheduled to premiere October 9, 2013, at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival, with a U.S. premiere to follow. [183] The film was shown at a single screening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on May 3, 2014. [ citation needed ] A single performance of Too Much Johnson, on February 2, 2015, at the Film Forum in New York City, was a great success. Produced by Bruce Goldstein and adapted and directed by Allen Lewis Rickman, it featured the Film Forum Players with live piano. [184]

Heart of Darkness Edit

Heart of Darkness was Welles's projected first film, in 1940. It was planned in extreme detail and some test shots were filmed the footage is now lost. It was planned to be entirely shot in long takes from the point of view of the narrator, Marlow, who would be played by Welles his reflection would occasionally be seen in the window as his boat sailed down river. The project was abandoned because it could not be delivered on budget, and Citizen Kane was made instead. [19] : 30–33, 355–356

Santa Edit

In 1941, Welles planned a film with his then partner, the Mexican actress Dolores del Río. Santa was adapted from the novel by Mexican writer Federico Gamboa. The film would have marked the debut of Dolores del Río in the Mexican cinema. Welles made a correction of the script in 13 extraordinary sequences. The high salary demanded by del Río stopped the project. In 1943, the film was finally completed with the settings of Welles, led by Norman Foster and starring Mexican actress Esther Fernández. [185]

The Way to Santiago Edit

In 1941 Welles also planned a Mexican drama with Dolores del Río, which he gave to RKO to be budgeted. The film was a movie version of the novel by the same name by Calder Marshall. In the story, del Río would play Elena Medina, "the most beautiful girl in the world", with Welles playing an American who becomes entangled in a mission to disrupt a Nazi plot to overthrow the Mexican government. Welles planned to shoot in Mexico, but the Mexican government had to approve the story, and this never occurred. [185]

The Life of Christ Edit

In 1941, Welles received the support of Bishop Fulton Sheen for a retelling of the life of Christ, to be set in the American West in the 1890s. After filming of Citizen Kane was complete, [186] Welles, Perry Ferguson, and Gregg Toland scouted locations in Baja California and Mexico. Welles wrote a screenplay with dialogue from the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke. "Every word in the film was to be from the Bible — no original dialogue, but done as a sort of American primitive," Welles said, "set in the frontier country in the last century." The unrealized project was revisited by Welles in the 1950s, when he wrote a second unfilmed screenplay, to be shot in Egypt. [19] : 361–362

It's All True Edit

Welles did not originally want to direct It's All True, a 1942 documentary about South America, but after its abandonment by RKO, he spent much of the 1940s attempting to buy the negative of his material from RKO, so that he could edit and release it in some form. The footage remained unseen in vaults for decades and was assumed lost. Over 50 years later, some (but not all) of the surviving material saw release in the 1993 documentary It's All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by Orson Welles. [187]

Monsieur Verdoux Edit

In 1944, Welles wrote the first-draft script of Monsieur Verdoux, a film that he also intended to direct. Charlie Chaplin initially agreed to star in it, but later changed his mind, citing never having been directed by someone else in a feature before. Chaplin bought the film rights and made the film himself in 1947, with some changes. The final film credits Chaplin with the script, "based on an idea by Orson Welles". [188]

Cyrano de Bergerac Edit

Welles spent around nine months around 1947–48 co-writing the screenplay for Cyrano de Bergerac along with Ben Hecht, a project Welles was assigned to direct for Alexander Korda. He began scouting for locations in Europe whilst filming Black Magic, but Korda was short of money, so sold the rights to Columbia pictures, who eventually dismissed Welles from the project, and then sold the rights to United Artists, who in turn made a film version in 1950, which was not based on Welles's script. [19] : 106–108

Around the World in Eighty Days Edit

After Welles's elaborate musical stage version of this Jules Verne novel, encompassing 38 different sets, went live in 1946, Welles shot some test footage in Morocco in 1947 for a film version. The footage was never edited, funding never came through, and Welles abandoned the project. Nine years later, the stage show's producer Mike Todd made his own award-winning film version of the book. [19] : 402

Moby Dick—Rehearsed Edit

Moby Dick—Rehearsed was a film version of Welles's 1955 London meta-play, starring Gordon Jackson, Christopher Lee, Patrick McGoohan, and with Welles as Ahab. Using bare, minimalist sets, Welles alternated between a cast of nineteenth-century actors rehearsing a production of Moby Dick, with scenes from Moby Dick itself. Kenneth Williams, a cast member who was apprehensive about the entire project, recorded in his autobiography that Welles's dim, atmospheric stage lighting made some of the footage so dark as to be unwatchable. The entire play was filmed but is now presumed lost. This was made during one weekend at the Hackney Empire theater. [189]

Histoires extraordinaires Edit

The producers of Histoires extraordinaires, a 1968 anthology film based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe, announced in June 1967 that Welles would direct one segment based on both "Masque of the Red Death" and "The Cask of Amontillado" for the omnibus film. Welles withdrew in September 1967 and was replaced. The script, written in English by Welles and Oja Kodar, is in the Filmmuseum Munchen collection. [190]

One-Man Band Edit

This Monty Python-esque spoof in which Welles plays all but one of the characters (including two characters in drag), was made around 1968–9. Welles intended this completed sketch to be one of several items in a television special on London. Other items filmed for this special – all included in the "One Man Band" documentary by his partner Oja Kodar — comprised a sketch on Winston Churchill (played in silhouette by Welles), a sketch on peers in a stately home, a feature on London gentlemen's clubs, and a sketch featuring Welles being mocked by his snide Savile Row tailor (played by Charles Gray).

Treasure Island Edit

Welles wrote two screenplays for Treasure Island in the 1960s, and was eager to seek financial backing to direct it. His plan was to film it in Spain in concert with Chimes at Midnight. Welles intended to play the part of Long John Silver. He wanted Keith Baxter to play Doctor Livesey and John Gielgud to take on the role of Squire Trelawney. Australian-born child actor Fraser MacIntosh (The Boy Cried Murder), then 11-years old, was cast as Jim Hawkins and flown to Spain for the shoot, which would have been directed by Jess Franco. About 70 percent of the Chimes at Midnight cast would have had roles in Treasure Island. However, funding for the project fell through. [191] Eventually, Welles's own screenplay (under the pseudonym of O.W. Jeeves) was further rewritten, and formed the basis of the 1972 film version directed by John Hough, in which Welles played Long John Silver. [192]

The Deep Edit

The Deep, an adaptation of Charles Williams's Dead Calm, was entirely set on two boats and shot mostly in close-ups. It was filmed off the coasts of Yugoslavia and the Bahamas between 1966 and 1969, with all but one scene completed. It was originally planned as a commercially viable thriller, to show that Welles could make a popular, successful film. [193] It was put on hold in 1970 when Welles worried that critics would not respond favorably to this film as his theatrical follow-up to the much-lauded Chimes at Midnight, and Welles focused instead on F for Fake. It was abandoned altogether in 1973, perhaps due to the death of its star Laurence Harvey. In a 2015 interview, Oja Kodar blamed Welles's failure to complete the film on Jeanne Moreau's refusal to participate in its dubbing. [194]

Dune Edit

Dune, an early attempt at adapting Frank Herbert's sci-fi novel by Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, was to star Welles as the evil Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Jodorowsky had personally chosen Welles for the role, but the planned film never advanced past pre-production. [ citation needed ]

Saint Jack Edit

In 1978 Welles was lined up by his long-time protégé Peter Bogdanovich (who was then acting as Welles's de facto agent) to direct Saint Jack, an adaptation of the 1973 Paul Theroux novel about an American pimp in Singapore. Hugh Hefner and Bogdanovich's then-partner Cybill Shepherd were both attached to the project as producers, with Hefner providing finance through his Playboy productions. However, both Hefner and Shepherd became convinced that Bogdanovich himself would be a more commercially viable director than Welles and insisted that Bogdanovich take over. Since Bogdanovich was also in need of work after a series of box office flops, he agreed. When the film was finally made in 1979 by Bogdanovich and Hefner (but without Welles or Shepherd's participation), Welles felt betrayed and according to Bogdanovich the two "drifted apart a bit". [195]

Filming The Trial Edit

After the success of his 1978 film Filming Othello made for West German television, and mostly consisting of a monolog to the camera, Welles began shooting scenes for this follow-up film, but never completed it. [69] : 253 What Welles did film was an 80-minute question-and-answer session in 1981 with film students asking about the film. The footage was kept by Welles's cinematographer Gary Graver, who donated it to the Munich Film Museum, which then pieced it together with Welles's trailer for the film, into an 83-minute film which is occasionally screened at film festivals. [ citation needed ]

The Big Brass Ring Edit

Written by Welles with Oja Kodar, The Big Brass Ring was adapted and filmed by director George Hickenlooper in partnership with writer F.X. Feeney. Both the Welles script and the 1999 film center on a U.S. presidential hopeful in his 40s, his elderly mentor—a former candidate for the Presidency, brought low by homosexual scandal—and the Italian journalist probing for the truth of the relationship between these men. During the last years of his life, Welles struggled to get financing for the planned film however, his efforts at casting Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds and Paul Newman as the main character were unsuccessful. All of the actors turned down the role for various reasons. [ citation needed ]

The Cradle Will Rock Edit

In 1984, Welles wrote the screenplay for a film he planned to direct, an autobiographical drama about the 1937 staging of The Cradle Will Rock. [23] : 157–159 Rupert Everett was slated to play the young Welles. However, Welles was unable to acquire funding. Tim Robbins later directed a similar film, but it was not based on Welles's script. [ citation needed ]

King Lear Edit

At the time of his death, Welles was in talks with a French production company to direct a film version of the Shakespeare play King Lear, in which he would also play the title role. [196]

Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle Edit

Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle was an adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's novel. Welles flew to Paris to discuss the project personally with the Russian author. [197]


October 30 1938 Orson Welles scares a nation

On October 30th 1938, Orson Welles caused a nationwide panic with his broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” a realistic radio dramatisation of a Martian invasion of Earth.

Orson Welles was only 23 years old when his Mercury Theatre company decided to update H.G. Wells‘ 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds for national radio.

Despite his age, Welles had been in radio for several years, most notably as the voice of “The Shadow” in the hit mystery program of the same name.

“War of the Worlds” was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had little idea of the havoc it would cause.

The show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice announced: “The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the air in ‘War of the Worlds’ by H.G. Wells.”

Sunday evening in 1938 was prime-time in the golden age of radio, and millions of Americans had their radios turned on.

But most of these Americans were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy “Charlie McCarthy” on NBC and only turned to CBS at 8:12 p.m. after the comedy sketch ended and a little-known singer went on. By then, the story of the Martian invasion was well underway.

Welles introduced his radio play with a spoken introduction, followed by an announcer reading a weather report.

Then, seemingly abandoning the storyline, the announcer took listeners to “the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon Raquello and his orchestra.”

Putrid dance music played for some time, and then the scare began. An announcer broke in to report that “Professor Farrell of the Mount Jenning Observatory” had detected explosions on the planet Mars.

Then the dance music came back on, followed by another interruption in which listeners were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer’s field in Grovers Mills, New Jersey.

Soon, an announcer was at the crash site describing a Martian emerging from a large metallic cylinder. “Good heavens,” he declared, “something’s wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake.

“Now here’s another and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me … I can see the thing’s body now. It’s large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather. But that face, it… it … ladies and gentlemen, it’s indescribable.

“I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it’s so awful. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate.”

The Martians mounted walking war machines and fired “heat-ray” weapons at the puny humans gathered around the crash site.

They annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and after being attacked by artillery and bombers the Martians released a poisonous gas into the air.

Soon “Martian cylinders” landed in Chicago and St. Louis. The radio play was extremely realistic, with Welles employing sophisticated sound effects and his actors doing an excellent job portraying terrified announcers and other characters.

An announcer reported that widespread panic had broken out in the vicinity of the landing sites, with thousands desperately trying to flee. In fact, that was not far from the truth.

Perhaps as many as a million radio listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking to escape the alien marauders.

People begged police for gas masks to save them from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that the Martians wouldn’t see their lights.

One woman ran into an Indianapolis church where evening services were being held and yelled, “New York has been destroyed! It’s the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!”

When news of the real-life panic leaked into the CBS studio, Welles went on the air as himself to remind listeners that it was just fiction. There were rumours that the show caused suicides, but none were ever confirmed.

The Federal Communications Commission investigated the program but found no law was broken. Networks did agree to be more cautious in their programming in the future. Orson Welles feared that the controversy generated by “War of the Worlds” would ruin his career.

In fact, the publicity helped land him a contract with a Hollywood studio, and in 1941 he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane—a movie that many have called the greatest American film ever made.


A combination of Celtic, Catholic, pagan, and purely American rituals, Halloween has a long, strange history. Wiki Commons

In 1517 Martin Luther took a stand on it. In 1926 Houdini made his final exit on it. In 1938 Orson Welles perpetrated a national hoax on it. Today 70 percent of American households open their doors to strangers on it, 50 percent take photographs on it, and the nation drops more than six billion dollars celebrating it. The night is Halloween, of course, and the history of its rise is as unlikely as any ghost story. Halloween has become the darling of American holidays. Only Christmas outearns it. Only New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday outparty it.

The festival was not always so lighthearted. For the Celts of ancient Britain, Scotland, Ireland, and northern France, November 1 marked the end of harvest, the return of herds from the pasture, the time of what was known in folk wisdom as “the light that loses, the night that wins,” and the start of the new year. It was also the festival of Samhain, who may or may not, depending on the source, have been the god of the dead but who remains a favorite of modern witches, neo-pagans, and fans of Walt Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia . On October 31, the last night of the old year, spirits of the deceased were thought to roam the land, visiting their loved ones, looking for eternal rest, or raising hell. They particularly liked to wreak havoc on crops. They were also capable of revealing future marriages and windfalls, and illnesses and deaths. It was incumbent upon the living, therefore, to welcome them home with food and drink, to propitiate the grudges they might still be carrying, or to light bonfires and carry lanterns made from hollowed-out turnips carved into frightening faces to keep them away. The bonfires also came in handy for immolating vegetable, animal, and human sacrifices to Samhain. In other words, anything might happen on this hallowed night, or, given the sketchy state of modern scholarship about ancient Druid practices, we can easily imagine anything happening. Most accounts of the Celtic origins of Halloween, including this one, should be taken with a pumpkin seed of skepticism. About all we can be certain of is that some festival marked the onset of the long, cold northern winter when living conditions grew raw, food was scarce, and many died.

By the first century A.D., Rome had conquered Celtic lands, Romans and Celts were living cheek by jowl in small villages, and Pomona, the Roman goddess of orchards and the harvest, whose festival was celebrated on November 1, was cohabiting happily with Samhain. But if the Romans, who associated Pomona with the apple and therefore with love and fertility, lent the macabre Celtic festival sex appeal, the church gave it an air of respectability and a new name. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III, acting on the theory that if you can’t beat paganism, which was still rife throughout Christendom, you’d better join it, moved All Saints’ Day (which had been consecrated the century before when the number of saints outstripped the days of the year), from May 13 to November 1. The night before became Allhallows Eve, or Hallowe’en, and the old Celtic practices became Christian pieties. Instead of appeasing spirits with food and wine, villagers gave “soul cakes” to poor people who promised to pray for departed relatives. Instead of dressing up as animals or spirits to frighten away the dead, parishioners of churches that couldn’t afford genuine relics dressed up as saints. As the church militant marched around the globe, its hybrid Celtic-Roman-Christian celebration chased after it like a faintly disreputable but fun-loving camp follower. It was one of the many church practices that incited Martin Luther to action. Whether Luther chose October 31 to nail his theses to the church door to protest the practice of purchasing indulgences or to take advantage of the crowds that would be out on a festival eve—or whether, in fact, he ever actually nailed anything anywhere (and modern scholarship is beginning to doubt that he did)—tradition has him hammering on Halloween.

The Reformation’s abolition of saints’ days should have put an end to the celebration of Allhallows Eve in Protestant countries, but the festival that had survived Roman invasion and Christian conquest had gained too firm a hold on popular imagination and practice. In 1606, when the British Parliament declared November 6 a day of national thanksgiving for the foiling of the plot by the Catholic revolutionary Guy Fawkes to blow up the Protestant House of Lords the year before, the new holiday, coming just five days after the old, took on many of Halloween’s trappings while assuming an anti-Catholic and anti-Popish flavor. Bonfires lit the autumn evening, revelers carried lanterns of hollowed-out turnips carved into grotesque faces, and no one worried too much about the rationale for celebrating the quickening of a crisp new season.

Some of the earliest Halloween traditions originated in Ireland, where celebrations often featured bobbing for apples and roasting nuts on the fire.

But what was acceptable in the Old World was anathema in the New. The colonies were, of course, a patchwork of customs. From its earliest days, Catholic Maryland celebrated All-hallows Eve, and Anglican Virginia, by allowing the celebration of saints’ days, simply put the stamp of approval on what its subjects were already doing. But New England soil was notoriously hostile to holidays. Early Northern settlers did not even celebrate Christmas indeed, only three occasions—muster day, election day, and the Harvard commencement—merited official recognition until a new holiday, Thanksgiving, began to find its way onto the New England calendar during the 16705. Despite the best efforts of Puritan church officials, however, New England settlers refused to relinquish Guy Fawkes Day. In 1685 Judge Samuel Sewall noted in his diary, “Friday night being fair, about two hundred hallowed about a fire on the Comon.” Almost a century later, costumed young men and boys paraded with “Guys” or “popes” of straw for the bonfire, and John Adams wrote, “Punch, wine, bread and cheese, apples, pipes, tobacco and Popes and bonfires this evening at Salem, and a swarm of tumultuous people attending.” Soon Britain’s day of thanksgiving was getting mixed up with the colonies’ drive for independence, as New Englanders burned effigies of the Stamp Man along with those of the Pope and the devil.

The New England celebration of Guy Fawkes Day rather than Allhallows Eve had to do with more than Puritan hatred of Catholic habits. Halloween still retained many of its pagan associations with the spirit world, and nothing struck fear in the Puritan heart so forcefully as witchcraft. New England led the way in persecuting witches, but every colony prescribed a punishment for the use of magic, and there was a reason for, if not a rationality to, the laws. In the colonies, astrological almanacs outsold Bibles.

As the new nation grew and sprawled, its far-flung citizens sought occasions for community celebrations. In the fall, families came together to husk corn, pare apples, and make sugar and sorghum. Soon these task-oriented gatherings gave way to “play parties,” which promised nothing more than a good time. Revelers told stories, traded gossip, and—though many churches forbade dancing and that instrument of the devil, the fiddle—shouted, sang, and clapped while they swung their partners round in the first American square dances. Perhaps most important to farm families living at great distances from one another, these gatherings brought together men and women of marriageable age. Play parties were not a direct descendant of Halloween they did not occur on any particular night, had no religious affiliation, and were more concerned with producing future generations than with honoring or placating past ones. But they did keep alive certain Halloween traditions, such as telling ghost tales and divining future romance with apples and nuts, so that when a new wave of immigrants arrived, the old holiday customs they brought with them didn’t seem quite so alien. In the wake of the famine of 1820 and the even harsher devastation beginning in 1846, more than a million Irish Catholics arrived in the urban areas of North America. Starved and penniless, they brought little with them beyond their traditions. Though they celebrated All Saints’ Day, they gave over its eve to more pagan practices. Irish girls peeled apples, roasted nuts, unraveled yarn, stared into mirrors, dipped their hands into a series of bowls while blindfolded, cooked dinners in silence, and played with fire to find out whether and whom they would marry. In place of the turnips they had used at home, revelers carved out indigenous pumpkins to light the way as they went from house to house. Instead of dressing up as saints in church parades and begging for soul cakes in return for prayer, these new urban Irish slipped into secular costumes and went from house to house, soliciting handouts.

Where there were Irish on Halloween, there were often “little people” who had a tendency toward vandalism, and although most Irish immigrants had settled in the cities, the tradition of Mischief Night spread quickly through rural areas. On October 31, young men roamed the countryside looking for fun, and on November 1, farmers would arise to find wagons on barn roofs, front gates hanging from trees, and cows in neighbors’ pastures. Any prank having to do with an outhouse was especially hilarious, and some students of Halloween maintain that the spirit went out of the holiday when plumbing moved indoors.

Despite a strong Irish influence, in the years after the Civil War Halloween practices still varied widely throughout the country. Witches roamed among the Scottish and German settlers of Appalachia, and Halloween was their special night. In the South, voodoo customs associated the holiday with witchcraft, charms, and deceased ancestors. Southwesterners celebrated a joyous Day of the Dead by taking food, drink, flowers, and candles to the graves of loved ones at midnight on November 1 and staying till the sun rose the next morning.

For many years, Halloween became a polite social occasion for men and women seeking their future life partners.

But America was becoming a more uniform nation. Railroads, the telegraph, and magazines were blurring sectional differences. In 1871 women in every part of the country, at least women of the middle class, opened their issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book and read one of the first articles published about Halloween. Other magazines and newspapers followed with stories, poems, illustrations, and suggestions for celebrations. But a funny thing happened to Halloween on its way to national prominence. It severed its ties with restless spirits, destructive pranks, and, perhaps most important, working-class Irish Catholic traditions and became a proper Victorian lady—safe, sinless, and romantically inclined. By the end of the century, it was so intimately associated with polite social gatherings and innocent amorous pursuits that celebrants were hanging mistletoe on October 31.

Halloween entered the twentieth century stripped of occult associations and religious significance. Populist city fathers with boosterish hearts, alert for ways to promote community spirit and Americanize a motley immigrant population, recognized its potential. Allentown, Pennsylvania, sponsored the first annual Halloween parade, and in 1921 Anoka, Minnesota, held the first citywide party. Halloween had left the parlor, taken to the streets, and discovered its nationality. Shortly after World War I, a young Ernest Hemingway wrote a sketch in which the hero, lying wounded in an Italian hospital, hears the sound of the armistice celebration and remembers neither the Fourth of July nor, despite the November date, Thanksgiving, but Halloween at home.

Now that the holiday had got another whiff of fresh air, the scene was set for the practice that more than any other symbolizes contemporary Halloween. Medieval villagers had begged soul cakes and Irish immigrants had extorted handouts, but not until the 1920s did costumed children begin going from door to door to trick-or-treat. One of the first mentions of the practice appears in a 1920 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal , and by the 1950s it was an established ritual, although one Depression-bred student of the subject insists that in North Dakota in 1935 no one had ever heard of it and chides later generations for having “sold their rights to rebellion for some sugar in expensive wrappings.”

Not all the young made such a craven deal, however. If the Victorian age had denatured the more raffish aspects of the holiday, it had not wholly obliterated them. While some youths had lingered under the mistletoe in the parlor, others had continued to roam the countryside on the lookout for unguarded livestock or remaining outhouses, and even today many law-abiding males of a certain age remember that dressing up and going from house to house was fine for girls, but boys were looking for trouble. Many of them found it. As families moved to the city, the old purportedly innocent high jinks gave way to more serious vandalism. Youths slashed tires, stole gas caps, and rang false fire alarms, all in the spirit of good fun. In Queens, New York, in 1939, a thousand windows were broken.

Just as city officials were trying to find ways to channel all this youthful energy into constructive civic action, like raking lawns and mending fences, America entered World War II, and pranks and vandalism became sabotage and treason. The Chicago City Council abolished Halloween and called on the mayor to make October 31 Conservation Day. “Letting air out of tires isn’t fun anymore,” wrote the superintendent of the Rochester, New York, schools. “It’s sabotage. Soaping windows isn’t fun this year. Your government needs soaps and greases for the war…. Even ringing doorbells has lost its appeal because it may mean disturbing the sleep of a tired war worker who needs his rest.”

After V-J Day, children went back to trick-or-treating, youths to making trouble, and civic leaders to trying to head it off with community celebrations. Then, in 1950, a group of students from a Philadelphia-area Sunday school sent the $17 they had collected trick-or-treating to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and another holiday tradition was born. A newly rich and powerful America celebrated Halloween by lending a helping hand to less fortunate peoples around the world. But as the certainties of the fifties gave way to the rebellions of the sixties, which many Americans didn’t experience until the seventies, an innocent holiday became an opportunity for tragic accidents. In 1970 a five-year-old boy died from eating heroin, supposedly laced through his Halloween candy but actually filched from his uncle’s stash a number of other scares, most of them unfounded, followed and trick-or-treating began to decline. In the late 1980S, however, as President Reagan’s “morning in America” headed toward high noon, costumed children began venturing back onto the streets, and by 1999, 92 percent of America’s children were trick-or-treating. In fact, the spirit and intentions of the old pagan holiday of darkness had finally become so sunny that an affluent Indiana suburb began busing in less well-to-do children to share the goodies. Unfortunately, a glut of less affluent trick-or-treaters roaming the well-kept lawns soon led residents to move Halloween to another night, advertised only in the community association’s newsletter.) On a more entrepreneurial note, in 1987 a Canadian good neighbor began handing out stocks to the first 100 trick-or-treaters who showed up, some of whom, once the word was out, traveled more than 200 miles to beef up their portfolios. When the shares took a downturn as the rest of the market soared, the financial Good Samaritan began questioning the values he was fostering and put an end to the practice.

Halloween is a plastic holiday. Lacking the religious foundations of Christmas, Easter, and their cousins from other cultures, or the patriotic underpinnings of Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, or even the single-minded sentimentality of the synthetic Mother’s Day (hatched by Anna Jarvis, an unmarried childless woman who never got over having abandoned her mother for a career, and subsequently seized upon by the flower, telegraph, and greeting-card industries), Halloween could be mauled and molded to fit the needs of each generation. Puritans, intent on survival in a new world and salvation in the next, ignored it. A hard-pressed immigrant population let off steam in its honor. A Victorian society tamed it. World Wars I and II and even Vietnam undermined it. And a newly powerful postwar nation gave it a social conscience. Even the masquerades chosen commented on the era in which they were worn. In 1973 Time magazine reported that first prize for the most frightening costume at a Halloween party went to a child wearing a Richard Nixon mask, and, in 1986, 49 schoolteachers marched as Imelda Marcos’s shoes. But perhaps the most significant sign of the times is contemporary Halloween’s strenuous consumerism.

The process, though recently accelerated, began almost a century and a half ago. In the decades following the Civil War, the American business community stopped viewing holidays as impediments to production and began recognizing their potential as incentives to consumption. In 1897 one of the leading trade papers of the time, the Dry Goods Economist , bemoaned those out-of-date entrepreneurs who still regarded “holidays as an unavoidable nuisance” resulting in “the loss of trade.” Three years later, the Dry Goods Chronicle urged its readers: “Never let a holiday… escape your attention, provided it is capable of making your store better known or increasing the value of its merchandise.” Advertisers took up the cry by promoting seasonal campaigns.

Despite its popularity today, trick-or-treating didn't become a widespread tradition in America until the 1990s.

Though Halloween, compared with some of the more traditional holidays, was a slow starter in the race to commercial prominence, its fixed time slot, unlike the wandering Easter and Thanksgiving, and its established icons, such as jack-o’-lanterns, witches, and black cats, ultimately made it a marketer’s dream. Of the six billion dollars raked in on the holiday today, almost two go for sweets. Costumes account for between a billion and a billion and a half. The remaining sum buys decorations and food and drink for friends, but if you think that means some apples for bobbing, a pumpkin from your nearby road stand, and a cardboard skeleton with crepe-paper limbs, you’re hopelessly out-of-date.

Americans buy enough Coors beer for their Halloween parties to increase seasonal sales 10 percent. A Syncromotion Skeletal Grim Reaper, which talks and sings, sells for $199.95 a Fog Master to give lawns that haunted look, $99.95. In addition to the products, there are the promotions. In the mid-nineties, companies decided to make Halloween not just a “candy occasion” but a “seasonal experience.” The results of this process include orange and black Rice Krispies, a drinking straw twisted around a plastic eyeball at Taco Bell, and a free trip to Alcatraz for the lucky winner who has purchased a Barq’s root beer. When Nabisco began filling Oreos with orange rather than white cream, demand for the garish result increased cookie production by 50 percent. The movie industry has long mined the potential of the holiday, but recently studio competition has become fiercer as Universal and Disney theme parks duel for the Halloween dollar, with Universal selling beer, blood, and gore and Disney sticking to its clean-cut image and offering discounts to entice the youngest Halloween revelers.

One cultural critic argues commercialization of the holiday has gone so far that when he made an informal study by asking his local trick-or-treaters what they would do if he said “trick,” 83.3 percent of the admittedly small and unscientific sample that rang his doorbell answered, “I don’t know.” The rite was simply “a rehearsal for consumership without a rationale. Beyond the stuffing of their pudgy stomachs, they didn’t know why they were filling their shopping bags.”

Even community festivities have become big business. What started in 1973 in New York City’s Greenwich Village as a small parade organized by a puppeteer and theater director and grew into a riotous celebration of gay life has become a commercial enterprise that attracts tens of thousands of participants, more than a million spectators, and scores of international film and television crews, and pumps $60 million into the local economy.

The popularity of the parade as well as similar, if less splashy, parties in San Francisco, Georgetown, and Key West, to name only a few places, points up another contemporary change in Halloween. Although children still claim the night, adults are once again taking it over. The Victorians dedicated the holiday to decorous romance our less restrained age makes it an occasion for wild parties, heavy drinking, and, often, sexual exhibitionism. The beer and liquor industries blitz the media with ads. Men and women spend small fortunes and long hours dressing or undressing as their favorite fantasies. While juvenile celebrations become more controlled, with parents vigilant against excessive sugar consumption shepherding their children from house to house, adult festivities grow more licentious.

They also grow more violent. In San Francisco in 1994, when gay bashers invaded the annual Castro Street revel, police officers donned riot gear, dodged bottles, detained nearly a hundred people, and confiscated several loaded guns. In Detroit between 1990 and 1996, 485 properties went up in flames on Halloween Eve, which is known there as Devil’s Night. In New York a decade ago, a group of costumed teenagers descended on a homeless camp with knives, bats, and a meat cleaver, shouting, “Trick or treat,” and leaving one dead and nine injured. One of Halloween’s chief attractions—slipping into a mask to slip out of constraints—has turned deadly. Sometimes the violence isn’t intentional. Last year in Los Angeles, a policeman summoned to a noisy party shot and killed an actor brandishing a fake weapon.

A more subtle sort of violence is the damage done to young psyches. In 1911 Sears advertised wigs, masks, and makeup to enable children to play at being “Negro”—“the funniest and most laughable outfit ever sold.” Feathered headdresses were always a favorite of small boys, and in my own youth I remember being wildly envious of a friend’s harem costume. My mother, whose political consciousness was insufficiently raised but whose sartorial sense was finely honed, may have put her foot down for the wrong reason, but as current critics have pointed out, there is something offensive about pampered American children playing at being members of oppressed minorities and natives of Third World countries.

The greatest opposition to Halloween today, however, comes not from fearful parents, politically correct posses, or the foes of consumerism but from the religious right. Christian conservatives see the holiday as nothing less than the celebration of Satan and have set out to exorcise it. Some churches stage “trunk or treat” parties: Parishioners in the parking lot hand out candy from the trunks of their cars and invite children to step into the church for a party. A less benign custom is the dramatized glimpse of hell. Congregations stage “mortality plays” featuring teenage girls undergoing bloody abortions, AIDS victims dying agonizing and unredeemed deaths, and businessmen who didn’t have time for Jesus burning in hell. In 1996 The Wall Street Journal reported that some 300 variations of these lurid portrayals of the wages of sin were intimidating more than 700,000 potentially savable souls, and the number was still growing.

But if the religious right would like to do away with Halloween, mainstream America wants to expand it. One method is the mailing of the holiday. Merchants dress up their stores and salespeople and invite children into the mall to celebrate. Parents, fearing sabotaged treats and possible violence elsewhere, gladly deliver their progeny to temperature control and security patrols. The message is clear: You may not be able to trust your neighbor but you can put your faith in your local Starbucks.

Over the years Halloween has shown an enduring malleability and a terrierlike tenacity to survive religious persecution, class prejudice, Victorian politesse, and consumerist inflation. Still, all the adaptability and advertising and marketing in the world couldn’t keep Halloween alive if Americans weren’t yearning for what it has to offer. Candy Day, energetically touted in the early part of the twentieth century, never sent the nation out to buy boxes of sweets for loved ones on the second Saturday in October. Why have Americans, so admirably skeptical and adamantly opposed to adopting other holidays, taken to their hearts this originally scary, often silly festival? Many say it reminds them of their childhood, which baby boomers are notoriously reluctant to relinquish. And maybe it reminds some others of the childhood they wish they’d had. Since people don’t go home for Halloween as they do for Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is less likelihood of parental disappointment, sibling squabbles, free-floating depression, and the other symptoms of the disquiet we are told afflicts America’s families. Moreover, though recently cornered by adults, Halloween is still identified with children, and while our society may quarrel over the expensive realities of raising children, like health care and education, it cherishes the idea of childhood. But perhaps the greatest attraction of the holiday is that it no longer has any reason for being. It is not a night to worship the God of our choice, honor the dead, celebrate the nation’s past, take stock for the future, or woo a loved one. It is simply an occasion for fun. Organized activities permit safe and sanitized rebellion. Costumes camouflage identity, blur status, and change gender. Masks provide a moral holiday.

For one night a year, we can act out whims and realize fantasies. Men can be women, children adults, milquetoasts heroes, good girls bad, devils saints, and vice versa. For a single night we all can star in the roles of our choice. The secret of Halloween’s success is that it is more than a holiday. It is a brief and titillating vacation from our lives and ourselves.


This Day in History: 10/30/1938 - Welles Scares Nation - HISTORY


War of the Worlds, Orson Welles,
And The Invasion from Mars

The ability to confuse audiences en masse may have first become obvious as a result of one of the most infamous mistakes in history. It happened the day before Halloween, on Oct. 30, 1938, when millions of Americans tuned in to a popular radio program that featured plays directed by, and often starring, Orson Welles. The performance that evening was an adaptation of the science fiction novel The War of the Worlds, about a Martian invasion of the earth. But in adapting the book for a radio play, Welles made an important change: under his direction the play was written and performed so it would sound like a news broadcast about an invasion from Mars, a technique that, presumably, was intended to heighten the dramatic effect.

As the play unfolded, dance music was interrupted a number of times by fake news bulletins reporting that a "huge flaming object" had dropped on a farm near Grovers Mill, New Jersey. As members of the audience sat on the edge of their collective seat, actors playing news announcers, officials and other roles one would expect to hear in a news report, described the landing of an invasion force from Mars and the destruction of the United States. The broadcast also contained a number of explanations that it was all a radio play, but if members of the audience missed a brief explanation at the beginning, the next one didn't arrive until 40 minutes into the program.

At one point in the broadcast, an actor in a studio, playing a newscaster in the field, described the emergence of one of the aliens from its spacecraft. "Good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake," he said, in an appropriately dramatic tone of voice. "Now it's another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. There, I can see the thing's body. It's large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather. But that face. It. it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The eyes are black and gleam like a serpent. The mouth is V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate. The thing is raising up. The crowd falls back. They've seen enough. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can't find words. I'm pulling this microphone with me as I talk. I'll have to stop the description until I've taken a new position. Hold on, will you please, I'll be back in a minute."

As it listened to this simulation of a news broadcast, created with voice acting and sound effects, a portion of the audience concluded that it was hearing an actual news account of an invasion from Mars. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens, oblivious to the fact that they were acting out the role of the panic-stricken public that actually belonged in a radio play. Not unlike Stanislaw Lem's deluded populace, people were stuck in a kind of virtual world in which fiction was confused for fact.

News of the panic (which was conveyed via genuine news reports) quickly generated a national scandal. There were calls, which never went anywhere, for government regulations of broadcasting to ensure that a similar incident wouldn't happen again. The victims were also subjected to ridicule, a reaction that can commonly be found, today, when people are taken in by simulations. A cartoon in the New York World-Telegram, for example, portrayed a character who confuses the simulations of the entertainment industry with reality. In one box, the character is shown trying to stick his hand into the radio to shake hands with Amos n' Andy. In another, he reports to a police officer that there is "Black magic. There's a little wooden man -- Charlie McCarthy -- and he's actually talking!"

In a prescient column, in the New York Tribune, Dorothy Thompson foresaw that the broadcast revealed the way politicians could use the power of mass communications to create theatrical illusions, to manipulate the public.

"All unwittingly, Mr. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater of the Air have made one of the most fascinating and important demonstrations of all time," she wrote. "They have proved that a few effective voices, accompanied by sound effects, can convince masses of people of a totally unreasonable, completely fantastic proposition as to create a nation-wide panic.

"They have demonstrated more potently than any argument, demonstrated beyond a question of a doubt, the appalling dangers and enormous effectiveness of popular and theatrical demagoguery.

"Hitler managed to scare all of Europe to its knees a month ago, but he at least had an army and an air force to back up his shrieking words.

"But Mr. Welles scared thousands into demoralization with nothing at all."

In the 1950s, America had another taste of the power that simulations have, to draw people into a world of delusional fantasy, when paired with mass communications. This time it was revealed that a number of television game shows were simulations, in which contestants who knew the answers ahead of time were pretending to guess at their responses. But unlike the invasion from Mars, here the fakery was unambiguously intentional it was the work of producers who had concluded they could create fictional game shows that would be more exciting than the real thing.

Once again, there was a shocked reaction from the public. Once again, those involved became objects of public anger. And, as happened with the Orson Welles broadcast, an effort was made to ensure that such manipulations wouldn't recur.

But in 1990, it happened again. Audiences around the world discovered that they were taken in by the ultimate Hollywood illusion in which two performers faked their own talent, lip-syncing, to create the impression they were singing. What millions of fans had believed were two talented singers was actually a composite, another seamless interweaving of sensory simulations in which two people provided the visuals, while vocalists provided the audio.

As in the previous two instances, there was a stunned response. But unlike the experience of 1938 or even the 1950s, the social context was different because simulations had become commonplace, and attempts to use them to trick the public were the rule rather than the exception. Also by this time, a global culture had developed, which meant that tens of millions of people around the world were drawn into the same illusion.

One might say that War of the Worlds and the game show scandal foreshadowed the age of simulation that was still to come. Allowing for a little poetic overstatement, the Milli Vanilli scandal served as a rite of passage or symbolic marker, making clear that we now live in an age of simulation confusion in which our tendency to mistake fakes for what they imitate has become one of the characteristic problems of the age.

More to the point, we live in a time in which the ability to create deceptive simulations, especially for television, has become essential to the exercise of power. And the inability to see through these deceptions has become a form of powerlessness. Those who let themselves be taken in by the multiple deceptions of politics, news, advertising and public relations, are doomed, like the more gullible members of the radio audience in 1938, to play a role in other people's dramas, while mistakenly believing that they are reacting to something genuine.


Originally Posted by Vernon Tuck

I pointedly deny that I've been advocating for D. Brown, covertly or overtly. Rather, and notwithstanding that I was well aware of the futility, I was - and still am - advocating and mediating for civility and tolerance - both here and in our teetering, tottering country.

Now that you've made clear that this is a hangin' offense on your forum, you have my assurance that it's duly noted and lesson learned. Nonetheless, if I could pick the high crime for which I'm hanged, this is the one I'd want on my epitaph. Finally, I argue that it IS a fact that a culture of bullying and piling on starts at the top of PM, and flows endlessly downhill. Your "moderation" cannot overturn that fact.

Ban me if it makes you feel better. It doesn't matter because I'm breakin' out of here now and won't be back.


Belgian Secession Hoax of 2006

Sources in this Story

On Dec. 26, 2006, RTBF, a Belgian public television channel, aired a mock-special bulletin announcing that the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium had seceded and declared itself an independent nation, effectively ending the existence of Belgium.

The broadcast showed staged footage of celebrating Flemish people and traffic jams near the Flemish border. The broadcast was made to look real, with news reporters and even a hotline number. More than 2,600 viewers called the hotline looking for more information, and the television station&rsquos Web site briefly crashed due to high traffic volume. After 30 minutes, the television station admitted the hoax to calm viewers down.


Watch the video: Oct 30th, 1938, Orson Welles scares a nation! The War of the Worlds Panic Broadcast - KID HISTORY (August 2022).