(To check out our best effort to stump you, scroll down to the 10 questions covered below in ORSON WELLES — The Monday Quiz, The Questions.)
And, it’s also time to re-plug the publication of a brand new book covering Welles’ early life, and documenting as well his most consistent lifelong personal association captured in a series of fascinating conversations recorded over many years.
On display is Welles personally at home and truly unleashed. Todd Tarbox’s Orson Welles and Roger Hill: A Friendship in Three Acts (the author is Roger Hill’s grandson) is a must read.
This well illustrated book includes many rare photos of Welles as a young student, and covering the early days of his stage career. We’ll be getting into more detail in subsequent blogs but suffice to say that Tarbox’ book is the inspiration of today’s quiz.
Without further ado, here are the correct answers:
1) At the age of 11, two years after his mother died, Welles arrived in Woodstock, Illinois, the site of the Todd School For Boys. The year was 1926. There began a lifetime friendship with the school’s headmaster, Roger Hill. Welles was born in Kenosha Wisconsin, just over the Illinois border. His father, Richard Welles, an inventor, had separated from his pianist-artist mother, Beatrice Ives, and his guardian, Dr. Maurice Bernstein, assigned the young Orson to Todd. It was an excellent choice.
2) False. Welles was a smarty even back then, recording an IQ of 185 on the Stanford-Binet test administered at Todd. (“Genius” level was 140 and above.)
3) False. Whatever he thought of other studio bosses, Welles much admired 20th Century Fox’s Darryl Zanuck, eulogizing him as a “legendary tycoon” and “a friend” at Zanuck’s memorial service.
4) False. Welles had no intention then or ever of becoming a Roman Catholic. Welles figured he was “the first real star” to visit then then Pope Pius XII (born Eugenio Pacelli) after World War II. “He had dry hands like a lizard and he held my hand for forty minutes while we talked, and all his questions revolved around Hollywood gossip.”
5) Welles much admired Pope John Paul II, the target of two assassination attempts, one seriously wounding him. Welles had a soft spot since the Pope (born Karol Wojtyla in Poland) “was a professional actor and something of a bohemian before he took his Holy Orders.” Said Welles, “I think his visit with his assassin was very touching…He went to the prison in Rome…and spent an hour with the man who tried to kill him. They just held on to each other and talked as though they were loving brothers.”
6) Kiki, a French poodle. Welles adored her. “She complicates and renders my life more expensive every day. But, I must keep her close because she’s just a little thing that depends so totally on me,” said Welles. Kiki was given to nipping waiters in restaurants and, on occasion, movie star patrons including Zsa Zsa Gabor.
7) False. Welles told Hill he was out of work as a director for for almost four years, not a full decade. (His next assignment was 1946’s The Stranger, which he directed and costarred with Loretta Young — pictured above — and Edward G. Robinson).
8) False. Vincent Price whispered to Welles during a tv talk show commercial break that “Isn’t it wonderful, here we are together, the two most wonderful voices in the American Theatre.” But Welles thought the remark was presumptuously hilarious. Welles figured that Price “had to find a reason why he was still making terrible horror movies at the age of sixty.”
9) Perhaps true, perhaps false. No way of knowing. But it is true that Welles said this about Charlie Chaplin’s appendage: “I have always admired one thing about Chaplin, who was famous in Hollywood for having the smallest penis in show business. Then he went away and married and had eight children after he was well into middle age, which must have silenced a lot of scurrilous laughter in the locker room.”
10. False. Although he said Rita Hayworth would “have one or two martinis and she was off,” Welles said he never thought his ex-wife was an alcoholic. “I knew she was a psychotic….She used to fly into these rages, never at me, never once, always at (Columbia boss) Harry Cohn or her father or her mother or her mother. She would break all the furniture and she’d get in a car…and drive up the hills suicidally. Terrible, terrible nights. And I just saw this lovely girl destroying herself.”