The Orson Welles centenary

  • Orson Welles in the 1930s. CBS

    George Orson Welles, born on May 6, 1915, was a man of innumerable talents and unquenchable drive, whose creative stamp was left on stage, on radio and in film. An enfant terrible up to his death in 1985 at age 70, Welles pushed the boundaries of a maverick director long before an independent cinema movement developed in the U.S., with his films '"Citizen Kane," "The Magnificent Ambersons," "Touch of Evil" and "Chimes at Midnights" among the greatest ever made - a testament to his dramatic creativity, technical ingenuity, and willingness to challenge the parameters of commercial entertainment.

    Making his first professional appearance on stage at age 16, Welles became a leading figure in New York theatre and on CBS Radio in the 1930s, before being given the keys to RKO Pictures (or, as he put it, "the biggest electric train set a boy ever had!"). His "golden boy" status didn't last long in Hollywood, however -- a willingness to step on toes got him kicked out of the studios. He eventually fled to Europe to make films, or more accurately, to commit dreams to celluloid, and not always complete ones. Though his total output was by the end small, it was monumental in ambition and dramatic scope, and would be an inspiration to generations of filmmakers who followed.

    Click through this gallery to play video and audio clips from Welles' career.

    By senior producer David Morgan

  • David Morgan

    David Morgan is a senior editor at and