Orson Welles spent his declining years as a pop culture man of all seasons. Hounded by the IRS, desperate to fund the numerous films on his artistic agenda, the director took on all manner of opportunities open to those with a recognizable face. The lecture circuit kept him in cigars and out of jail. Pitching products and enduring fat jokes on talk shows brought in the money he needed for his projects. In other words, Welles became a case study in the price exacted by genius and by fame, in part because unlike most people he never exhausted either one.
A few favorite Wellesian appearances, real and otherwise, in our collective consciousness:
Vincent D’Onofrio as Welles, inspiring the titular hero of Ed Wood.
“Paul Masson said it himself a century ago: we will sell no wine [pregnant pause] before its time.”
Welles lays some of his baritone on The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, part of the Nostradamus craze of the 1970s.
The recording of the War of the Worlds radio broadcast that trolled 1938 America.
Welles joins Dean Martin and Jimmy Stewart for dated hijinks.