Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane
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On the centennial of his birth, the defining wunderkind of modern entertainment gets his due in a groundbreaking new biography of his early years—from his first forays in theater and radio to the inspiration and making of Citizen Kane.
In the history of American popular culture, there is no more dramatic story—no swifter or loftier ascent to the pinnacle of success and no more tragic downfall—than that of Orson Welles. In this magisterial biography, Patrick McGilligan brings young Orson into focus as never before. He chronicles Welles’s early life growing up in Wisconsin and Illinois as the son of an alcoholic industrialist and a radical suffragist and classical musician, and the magical early years of his career, including his marriage and affairs, his influential friendships, and his artistic collaborations.
The tales of his youthful achievements were so colorful and improbable that Welles, with his air of mischief, was often thought to have made them up. Now after years of intensive research, McGilligan sorts out fact from fiction and reveals untold, fully documented anecdotes of Welles’s first exploits and triumphs, from starring as a teenager on the Gate Theatre stage in Dublin and bullfighting in Sevilla, to his time in the New York theater and his fraught partnership with John Houseman in the Mercury Theatre, to his arrival in Hollywood and the making of Citizen Kane. Filled with intriguing new insights and startling revelations—including the surprising true origin and meaning of “Rosebud”—Young Orson is a fascinating look at the creative development and influences that shaped this legendary artistic genius.
words, Virginia improvised a trip to New York, hoping to surprise him in his room at the Algonquin after the curtain fell on Julius Caesar. “It was a very cold night in January and I was in my seventh month,” Virginia recalled. Swearing the front desk to secrecy, she took over his suite, waiting for him—waiting, waiting. “The sun came up and there was still no sign of Orson,” Virginia ruefully confessed to her daughter Chris Welles Feder many years later. “I decided there was little point in
sequence, using a series of dissolves to show the deterioration of Kane’s first marriage. The script says: “The following scenes cover a period of nine years—are played in the same set with only changes in lighting, special effects outside the window, and wardrobe.” The first vignette takes place three years after their marriage. Seated at the breakfast table, Kane, dressed “in white tie and tails,” lovingly pours a morning glass of milk for Emily, who is similarly “formally attired.” “As he
Zimbalist—Mina lacked professional ability, and her singing career never took flight. The couple lived together for only a few months before Mina moved out of their Library Park house in April 1917. Their divorce was finalized one year later in July. Dr. Bernstein maintained ties to the local Jewish community and the municipal government, and he kept up with Kenosha patients; with his brother, he even briefly launched a soft-drink distribution company from the same Main Street address as his
Robert R. “Bertie,” 237–38, 302, 625 McCormick, Ruth Hanna, 60, 255 McCutcheon, John T., 22, 24, 27, 30, 39, 63, 64, 281 McGovern, Frances E., 55 McIntire, John, 359 McKay, Christian, 420 McKee, Harry, 373, 376 McKinley, William, 183, 639, 654, 662–63, 683 McManus, George, 113 McMaster, Anew, 195, 211 Mead, Catherine Pannill, 102, 105 Me and Orson Welles (film), 420–21 Medill, Joseph, 302 Meigs, James B., and sons, James Jr., and William, 220–21, 224–25 Meisel, Myron, 745 Melians,
346–49, 350, 353 rehearsals for, 339–43, 346 road production of, 351, 366 success of, 348, 349, 353, 401, 564 Virgil Thomson as composer of, 332–33, 341, 343, 344, 345, 356 WABC (radio station, NY), 337, 338, 415, 459, 499, 512, 547 Wade, Horace Takisson, 123 Wagner Act (1935), 388 Wakenight, Frances, 129 Waldorf, Wilella, 361, 376Walker, Vernon L., 673 Walk Together Chillun (drama), 331–32, 342 Wallace, Edgar, 233 Wallis, Gladys, 237, 571, 637 Walsh, Raoul, 567 Walska, Ganna,