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Worksheets and No Prep Teaching Resources
Reading Comprehension Worksheets
Social Studies Biographies
|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grades 7 to 9|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||8.56|
By Mary Lynn Bushong
1 Orson Welles had a distinctive deep voice that made the creative actor and director easily recognized on both radio and television. Though he became well-known during the Great Depression, he might have become a household name with a new generation if he hadn't turned down the voice role of Darth Vader in Star Wars.
2 George Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on May 6, 1915. His parents were both highly creative people, and Orson's creative talents were encouraged. His musical mother died when he was nine, and his inventor father drank himself into an early grave by the time the boy was fifteen. When he was sixteen, Orson graduated from high school and chose not to go to college. Instead, he took a sketching tour of Ireland and managed to talk his way onto a stage there for the first time. After he returned to the States, he made his Broadway debut at the age of nineteen as a minor character in Romeo and Juliet. It was just after this that the government began the Federal Theatre Project, and Welles became involved. He directed a modernized version of Shakespeare's Macbeth using only African-American performers and received rave reviews. He joined forces with John Houseman, and they formed their own company called the Mercury Theatre.
3 Welles became very active on the radio as an actor, director, and producer. In 1937, he became the voice of The Shadow in the popular radio show. The following year, the Mercury Theatre began to dramatize short radio plays based on both classic and popular stories. For Halloween that year, the Mercury Theatre did War of the Worlds. The "breaking news" adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic story about Martians invading Earth made many people think it was really happening. The broadcast and the next day's newspaper reports about it causing "panic," while greatly exaggerated, brought Orson Welles instant fame.
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