Orson Welles: A Biography
Hal Leonard Corporation, 2004 - 578 pages
Here is a firsthand portrait of the flamboyant American genius who became a titanic figure in twentieth-century popular culture. Orson Welles revolutionized theatre, terrified a nation of radio listeners, and made cinematic history with Citizen Kane, regarded by many as the greatest American film ever made. Building on two years of uninhibited, in-depth interviews with Welles, and on painstaking research in archives and among Welles's contemporaries, Barbara Leaming tells the full story - from Welles's childhood to his glory days in New York and Hollywood, through the years of European exile to his haunting twilight and, in a new epilogue, his death. Publication of this book was, and is again, a major event.
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This is a terrific book, one senses that Leaming is the perfect listener, with enormous patience. Also extraordinary are the interviews with Welles' former teacher, the man must have been a million years old (!), who recalls the 1920s with uncanny clarity, providing a wonderful, unexpected perspective on young Orson Welles. Leaming's interviews with the great man himself and his teachers give a vitality and immediacy to the book that far surpasses anything possible with a historical biography.