This May, celebrate a movie icon's 100th birthday in Kenosha.
Born on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, legendary director, writer, producer, and actor Orson Welles altered the mediums of theater, radio and film. Nearly 30 years after his death, his influence is still felt around the world and many consider his 1941 film "Citizen Kane" to be the best ever made. The city, along with Citizen Welles Society of Kenosha, will commemorate his centennial year with a series of events.
The organization has a month-long celebration planned, starting with a kick-off party on his 100th birthday on May 6 that will preview the events to come which include: radio adaptations of the infamous 1938 panic broadcast, "War of the Worlds," performed by RG Productions; film screenings of both "Citizen Kane" and 1942's "The Magnificent Ambersons;" and an Franklin D. Roosevelt and Orson Welles play, "On the Campaign Trail," which uses excerpts from speeches Welles gave on behalf of FDR in 1944.
Planned events also include Kenosha Public Library discussions, musical works inspired by Orson Welles and family-friendly events such as puppet shows and magician acts. Authors who will appear throughout the month at various events include film historian, and Welles biographer Joseph McBride; A. Brad Schwartz, author of "Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News;" and Patrick McGilligan, author of the upcoming "Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane."
The festivities will conclude at the end of the month with The Orson Welles 100th Anniversary Memorial Walk at Green Ridge Cemetery in Kenosha, where the public is invited to come and "meet" Orson’s ancestors in the form of re-enactors dressed in period clothing. Visitors will also be able to take a glimpse inside the home in Kenosha where Welles was born and walk around Library Park, with its many historic homes, many with ties to Welles’ ancestors.
Here's a list of the events that have been announced so far:
May 6: Kick-off celebration with Kenosha Mayor Keith Bosman. Alderman Jan Michalski and members of the Citizen Welles Society of Kenosha will present a tribute in the form of Welles’ film highlights. Patrick McGilligan, author of the upcoming "Young Orson: The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane," will speak with a special emphasis on the research he uncovered on Welles’ early days in Kenosha. Host: Carthage College. 7 p.m.
May 9: "War of the Worlds" full cast performance presented by RG Productions of Kenosha. A. Brad Schwartz, author of "Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News," will introduce the show and host a talkback afterward. Copies of his book will be available for sale. Host: Kenosha Public Museum. 2 p.m.
May 16: "Orson Welles & FDR: On the Campaign Trail." FDR re-enactor Gary Stamm with Ald. Jan Michalski portraying Orson Welles in this short play written by playwright Nita Hunter, which is comprised of the 1944 speeches Welles gave in support of FDR and using sources from the archives at Lilly Library, Indiana University. Location TBA. 2 p.m.
May 24: "The Magnificent Ambersons," film screening and discussion with noted film historian and Welles biographer Joseph McBride. 2 p.m. Host: Woman’s Club of Kenosha, WI. The Woman’s Club of Kenosha is located in historic Library Park nearby the Welles’ birth home and the site of many historical homes related to Welles early life in Kenosha. Carriage rides around the park will be offered.
May 30-31: Green Ridge Cemetery in Kenosha, hosts The Orson Welles 100th Anniversary Memorial Walk. 1 to 4 p.m.