Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1915. As a young man, Welles appeared on the series Cavalcade of America and The March of Time before writing, directing and starring in the Mutual network’s 1937 production of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. That fall, Welles assumed the title role on The Shadow, while earning raves on Broadway with his new troupe, the Mercury Theater.
In July of 1938, The Mercury Theater on the Air came to CBS. This weekly, hour-long series starred Welles in adaptations of classic literature, including “Dracula,” “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The War of the Worlds,” which presented H.G. Wells’ story as a startling “live” report of Martians attacking earth. The broadcast caused a national panic and became the most famous radio broadcast of all time.
Welles launched a successful film career in 1941, co-writing, directing and starring in the legendary Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons and Touch of Evil. He remained active in radio throughout his career, later starring in the BBC series The Third Man—based on his 1949 film—and The Black Museum.
Orson Welles died on October 10, 1985.
Orson Welles was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.