Sunday, February 20, 2011


Orson Welles did it all. He worked in the mediums film, theatre, television and radio and sustained fame and success in each.

His voice was perfect for radio and his personality for his film roles. He was larger than life and his aristic views and temperament was often at odds with established Hollywood. His work was unique, it had a distinct Welles mark that has not been repeated since. He was indeed one of the most influentual persons of the 20th Century in terms of his contribution to the arts.

He will be best remembered for his film classic "Citizen Kane" which he made at RKO in 1941. The film is always rated as the top ten films of all times and if you have seen it, you will know why. He will also be remembered for his radio play broadcast of "War of the Worlds" whose aliens attacking planet earth was thought by many listening in as a real event and caused much panic in many cities throughout the US.

This costume piece was worn by Orson Welles in his 1943 performance as Edward Rochester in "Jane Eyre" at 20th Century Fox studios. Costumes were designed by Rene Hubert.

This red velvet single breast period smoking jacket with frog closure is worb by Wellles in two scenes in the film opposite Joan Fontaine and Jane. Velvet cuffs and collar have been added to the costume for re use in another production. As was the case, costumes were sometimes altered an reused. Here the alterations were luckily minimal. Some of Welles costumes for Jane Eyre were for example used by Rex Harrison a few years later in "Foxes of Harrow" in 1947. You never know where a costume is going to end up. It is interesting to note for Jane Eyre that Welles gave up having his name above the title and above Joan Fontaine's in lieu of acting as associate producer. In many ways, Welles found the business of film as important if not more, than the craft itself.

Close up photos of the design to the jacket below.

The costume was executed by the Western Costume Co. Below is the original sewn in label which indicates the use of the costume by Orson Welles.

Welles personal life was as interesting as work. He married Rita Hayworth in 1943 and had one child together. He had also fallen in love with Mexican actress Dolores del Río and also elpoped with Chicago-born actress and socialite Virginia Nicolson. In 1955 he married Italian actress and Countess Paola Mori.

This bigger than life personalily has indeed earnt his place and postion on the bigger than life screen! I am very lucky to have a costume piece worn by this genius.


  1. What a fascinating post. Did you know that another of Welles' costumes - his fur coat from KANE -is to be auctioned in June 2011 by Debbie Reynolds?

    Miss Reynolds is using the Profiles in History auction site for much of her extended Hollywood memorabilia collection that was supposed to be slated for a museum that never came to fruition.

    No preview of the items is available yet; there's only an email sign up.

    Here's an old article about it.
    Here's the link to the auction itself.

    - Java

  2. Jane Eyre Orson Welles is one of my favorites of his. Classic performance from an outstanding actor.

  3. Thanks for the nice comments and information on the Reynolds sale. I was aware of the sale and we collectors have been waiting a long time for it!!

    It is sure to be a great sale! It is sad however that the collection does have to be broken up and that the dream to exhibit in the one mususem did not eventuate, but it is nice to think that they will end up with the next generation of collectors to be looked after and hopefully displayed. Thanks again!