History Series: Local Reaction To Orson Welles' War Of The Worlds

Oct 29, 2014

Orson Welles

Listen to the latest from our history series. These are sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society and written by Tara McClellan McAndrew, history columnist for the State Journal-Register.  Performers included Tom Hutchinson and Eric Thibbodeaux-Thompson. 

Springfield can lay a small claim to the man behind the "War of the Worlds" radio program. Orson Welles' mother, Beatrice Ives, was from a Springfield family.

The Ives family was involved in the coal business locally and was also "musically and dramatically inclined," according to the October 17 and November 2, 1938 Illinois State Journal.

Welles' mother, Beatrice, was progressive, according to TurnerClassicMovies.com's interview with Ruth Warrick, who appeared in Welles' movie, Citizen Kane. She believed fetuses could learn in utero, so she read poetry and Shakespeare aloud while pregnant with him. Welles became adept at Shakespeare while young. His mother died in Chicago when Welles was eight. 

When Welles was ten he attended the Todd School for Boys in Woodstock, Illinois; at age 15 he went to the Chicago Art Institute, according to "Current Biography 1965." The book says Welles was "remotely related" to Adlai Stevenson.

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