The Genius and Fall of Orson Welles

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In May 1941, when his towering masterpiece "Citizen Kane" hit the theaters, actor, director, writer, producer Orson Welles was just 25 years old. "Citizen Kane" would be called the best American film ever made. Generations of Americans would intone "Rosebud" as a totem of life's deep mysteries.

Orson Welles — dazzling young American genius — appeared headed for a lifetime of triumph. But he wasn't. He made more movies. He was broadcaster, newspaperman, comedian, political activist. He married Rita Heyworth, the era's sex goddess. But by 1947, the supernova had left the country. The great Orson Welles looked tapped out.

Hear a conversation with actor Simon Callow who's written a new biography that looks at the undoing of Orson Welles after "Citizen Kane."


Simon Callow, author of "Orson Welles: Hello Americans", the second volume of a three-volume biography. Callow is also a director and actor. He has appeared in "Four Weddings and A Funeral," "Shakespeare in Love," and "Amadeus."

This program aired on September 18, 2006.


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