His father, Richard Head Welles, was a well-to-do inventor, his mother, Beatrice (Ives) Welles, a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died in 1924 (when he was nine) he traveled the world with his father. He was orphaned at 15 after his father's death in 1930 and became the ward of Dr. Maurice Bernstein of Chicago. In 1931, he graduated from the Todd School in Woodstock, Illinois. He turned down college offers for a sketching tour of Ireland. He tried unsuccessfully to enter the London and Broadway stages, traveling some more in Morocco and Spain, where he fought in the bullring.
Recommendations by Thornton Wilder and Alexander Woollcott got him into Katharine Cornell's road company, with which he made his New York debut as Tybalt in 1934. The same year, he married, directed his first short, and appeared on radio for the first time. He began working with John Houseman and formed the Mercury Theatre with h