Beatrice Welles

Beatrice Giuditta Welles (also known as Beatrice Mori di Gerfalco Welles; born November 13, 1955) is an American former child actress, known for her roles in the film Chimes at Midnight (1966)[1] and the documentary travelogue In the Land of Don Quixote (1964).[2]:430–431 The daughter of American filmmaker Orson Welles and Italian countess Paola Mori, she is a former model, radio and TV personality, founder of a cosmetics line and designer of handbags and jewelry.[3] She administers the estate of Orson Welles.

Beatrice Welles
Beatrice Giuditta Welles

(1955-11-13) November 13, 1955
ResidenceNevada, United States
Other namesBeatrice Mori di Gerfalco Welles
OccupationActress, designer
Known forManagement of the estate of Orson Welles
  • Christopher Smith
    (m. 1987; div. 1995)
  • Jonathan O'Donaghue
    (m. 1997; div. 2004)


Beatrice Giuditta Welles (also known as Beatrice Mori di Gerfalco Welles[4]) was born in Manhattan on November 13, 1955, to Orson Welles and his third wife, Paola Mori.[5][6]:313 A countess from an Italian noble family that dates back to Middle Ages,[3] Welles is the half-sister of Chris Welles Feder[7] and the late Rebecca Welles Manning (1944–2004),[8] from her father's previous two marriages. She was named after her paternal grandmother, concert pianist Beatrice Ives Welles.[9] She was baptized at the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church in Beverly Hills, with Frank Sinatra and actress Mercedes McCambridge serving as godparents.[10]

Raised and educated in Europe with private tutors, Welles spent her childhood in the close company of her parents. She appeared on stage at the age of five in an Irish stage production of Chimes at Midnight, and later in the 1966 film of the same name. Fifty years later, she recalled the filming for the Criterion Collection release of the film on DVD and Blu-ray.[11] Her father's film, The Immortal Story (1968), was shot at the Welles family home outside Madrid, Spain, and she spent countless hours with him in the editing room.[3]

A severe injury during her teenage years ended Welles's hopes for an equestrian career. She turned to modeling and appeared in layouts in Vogue, as well as runway work in Paris, Milan, London and New York, wearing the clothes of Valentino, Halston and Chanel.[3] She became the news director at KAZM-AM radio in Arizona in the early 1970s and later a regional television personality and longtime spokeswoman for a major Southwestern automotive dealership.[3] Within a span of 10 months in the mid-1980s, she lost her father, mother and maternal grandmother. At the same time, a longtime romantic relationship came to a sudden end.[3]

Influenced by her association with makeup icons Kevin Aucoin and Barbara Daly, Welles developed her own line of cosmetics and counted Diana, Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers and Oprah Winfrey among her clients.[3] She also created a line of designer handbags and jewelry sold exclusively through Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona, Arizona.[12]

A Nevada resident,[3] Welles has been twice married and divorced: from Christopher F. Smith (1987–1995),[13][14] and Jonathan M. O'Donoghue (1997–2004).[4][15] She is a passionate animal rights crusader and helped to establish one of the first low-cost spaying and neutering clinics in the United States.[16]

Orson Welles estate

Orson Welles died on October 10, 1985.[2]:453 His widow, Paola Mori, died 10 months later, following a car crash.[17] After the death of her parents, Welles untangled a convoluted estate and complicated rights issues, which involved her father's longtime partner Oja Kodar. The two women signed a settlement on November 7, 1986, in a Clark County, Nevada courthouse.[18]

She collaborated with producer Julian Schlossberg on the restoration of her father's film, Othello, which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992 – 40 years after its release.[19]

Six years later, she protested a re-edit of her father's film, Touch of Evil (1958).[20] She objected to the film being re-edited and marketed as a director's cut without her being allowed to screen it in advance. She said her actions were prompted by a disastrous edit of Don Quixote several years earlier.[21]

After years of blocking various attempts to complete her father's unfinished final film, The Other Side of the Wind,[22] Welles embraced and campaigned for a project spearheaded by Polish-born filmmaker Filip Jan Rymsza and producer Frank Marshall.[23] She is an executive producer on the film, which was released by Netflix in August 2018.[24] However, less than three weeks before its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, she complained that the movie was in the hands of people her "father would have hated." [25] Her remarks were likely directed at Netflix executives, who ignored her pleas months earlier to debut the movie at the Cannes Film Festival as originally planned.[26] A statement by her was read at the Venice Film Festival, where she thanked the post-production team, saying, "Under the guidance of someone who knew him well, Peter Bogdanovich managed to get a very difficult job done. Bob Murawski, an excellent editor in his own right, was given an incredibly difficult task to edit Orson Welles’ last picture. I can only say 'Bravo, well done, what an undertaking'." [27]

In 2016, she explored a possible gallery exhibit of her father's paintings in New York and suggested a book based on his early letters and unpublished sketches, which would come to fruition in early 2019.[28][29] In June 2018, it was revealed the first-ever major exhibit of Orson Welles artwork would take place August 2 to September 23 in Edinburgh.[30]

Beatrice Welles has spoken at numerous film festivals and screenings, including the Film Forum in New York City,[31] about her father's work and protecting his legacy.[3] She was a keynote speaker at the 2015 Sedona International Film Festival with film critic Jeffrey Lyons and Ray Kelly of the website Wellesnet.[32]

Beatrice Welles introduced The Lady From Shanghai at the Prescott Film Festival in Arizona in July 2016.[33] She was a guest speaker that same month at the Traverse City Film Festival in Michigan, hosting a showing of Citizen Kane with filmmaker Michael Moore and Chimes at Midnight with Philip Hallman of the University of Michigan.[34] She and director Peter Bogdanovich took part in an American Film Institute Master Class after a 75th anniversary screening of Citizen Kane at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on November 2016.[35]

In spring 2017, the University of Michigan Special Collections Library in Ann Arbor acquired dozens of unpublished Orson Welles scripts, reams of his personal and business correspondence and boxes of documents related to the making of his legendary films and stage shows from Beatrice Welles.. She said of her decision, "I thought about this from my own point of view – and not my father's. He was not enamored with 'libraries and universities,' but I personally felt it was time that my father's items were in one place as much as was possible. I've seen the University of Michigan collection and believe that the one-of-a-kind items and rare documents I had belonged with all of  the other treasures there." [36]

In 2017, Janus Films and The Criterion Collection acquired the rights to Othello from her (on behalf of Shout! Factory/Westchester Films) and released restored versions of her father's 1952 and 1955 edits, as well as his 1978 documentary Filming Othello.[37]

Working with filmmaker Mark Cousins, she co-conceived, c-starred and served as a consultant on the documentary The Eyes of Orson Welles, which examines her father's film and stage work through a trove of seldom-seen drawings. It had its world premiere at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival on May 9, 2018.[38] The documentary received favorable reviews with The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy writing, "Freshly conceived, mordantly whimsical, light on its feet and fleet of mind, The Eyes of Orson Welles rightly makes no extensive claims for Welles 'drawing and painting skills, but positions them honestly as one heretofore overlooked aspect of the man's polymorphously abundant talent." [39]

An art exhibit at Summerhall in Edinburgh of the late filmmaker's work, curated by Cousins and Beatrice Welles, in the summer of 2018 was described as showcasing works with the "mental energy of a Picasso or a Jean Cocteau ... (Welles) was massively attracted to the Celtic world, the Latin world and the Arab world. In other words, worlds of excess, where the heart is worn on the outside. There’s something about his passion, his lust for life, that punky, unplugged energy that you can see in these drawings.” [40] Holding an opposing view, The Guardian wrote, "The visual art of Orson Welles has never been exhibited before, and that's because it isn't really art. Welles did caricatures of himself, landscape sketches of the many places his film-making adventures took him, and made his own Christmas cards."[41]

Beatrice Welles was featured in the Morgan Neville documentary, They'll Love Me When I'm Dead, which premiered on Netflix on November 2, 2018.[42]

Working with Titan Books and author Simon Braund, Beatrice Welles produced Orson Welles Portfolio: Sketches and Drawings from the Welles Estate, published on February 19, 2019.[29]


  1. "Falstaff". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  2. Welles, Orson; Bogdanovich, Peter; Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1992). This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
  3. "Beatrice Welles". Beatrice Welles Inc. and Orson Welles Estate. Archived from the original on March 5, 2016. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  4. "Beatrice Welles, J. M. O'Donoghue". The New York Times. June 8, 1997. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  5. "Milestones". Time. November 28, 1955. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  6. Whaley, Barton (2005). Orson Welles: The Man Who Was Magic., ASIN B005HEHQ7E
  7. Feder, Chris Welles (2009). In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter Remembers Orson Welles. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books. p. 2. ISBN 9781565125995.
  8. "Rebecca Manning Obituary". The News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington, October 21–22, 2004. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  9. Ross, Alex (December 7, 2015). "Orson Welles, Musician". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  10. Armstrong, Lois (April 27, 1992). "Once Moor with Feeling". People. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  11. "Chimes at Midnight". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  12. "Beatrice Welles". Our Artists. Goldenstein Gallery. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  13. "Beatrice G. Welles". Nevada, Marriage Index, 1956–2005 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2007. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  14. "Christopher F. Smith". Nevada Divorce Index, 1968–2005 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2007. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  15. "Beatrice Welles". Nevada Divorce Index, 1968–2005 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2007. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  16. Finch, Erika Ayn; McNeill, Joe (January 2012). "Sedona's Citizen Welles". Sedona Monthly Magazine. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  17. "Widow of Orson Welles Dies After Car Crash". Associated Press. August 13, 1986. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  18. Case No. P20544, November 7, 1986; Clark County District Court, Nevada
  19. Yagoda, Ben (March 1, 1992). "Film; Welles's 'Othello' Made Chaos Into an Art Form". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  20. "Welles' Daughter Blasts 'Touch'-Up". New York Daily News. August 30, 1998. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  21. Kelly, Ray (April 1, 2014). "Beatrice Welles interview—Part 1". Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  22. Hastings, Chris (August 18, 2002). "Daughter and lover fight over unreleased Orson Welles film". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  23. Carvajal, Doreen (October 28, 2014). "Orson Welles's Last Film May Finally Be Released". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  24. The Other Side of the Wind (2018), retrieved 2017-11-15
  25. "Welles' Daughter Sticks Her Nose In - Hollywood Elsewhere". Hollywood Elsewhere. 2018-08-12. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  26. Keegan, Rebecca. "Orson Welles's Daughter Begs Netflix to "Please Reconsider" Its Cannes Ban". Vanity Fair.
  27. Kelly, Ray (August 30, 2018). "'The Other Side of the Wind' premiere coverage, first reviews". Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource.
  28. Kelly, Ray (April 2, 2014). "Beatrice Welles interview—Part 2". Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  29. Braund, Simon. "Orson Welles Portfolio".
  30. "First major Orson Welles art exhibit set for Edinburgh this summer • Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource". Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource. 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  31. "Film Forum · Beatrice Welles, daughter of Orson Welles, in person". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  32. "21th Sedona International Film Festival". Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  33. "Film Noir & Pinot Noir (2016-07-17)". Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  34. wellesnet (2016-07-30). "Beatrice Welles hosts 'Chimes at Midnight,' 'Citizen Kane' at 2016..." Retrieved 2016-08-01.
  35. wellesnet (2016-11-10). "Peter Bogdanovich, Beatrice Welles to speak at AFI screening of..." Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  36. "University of Michigan acquires Orson Welles papers, unproduced scripts from daughter Beatrice Welles – Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource". Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource. 2017-04-24. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  37. "Criterion Collection releases exceptional 'Othello' on Blu-ray, DVD – Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource". Wellesnet | Orson Welles Web Resource. 2017-09-24. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  38. Cousins, Mark (2018-05-09), The Eyes of Orson Welles, Mark Cousins, Beatrice Welles, retrieved 2018-05-21
  39. McCarthy, Todd (May 9, 2018). "'The Eyes of Orson Welles': Film Review | Cannes 2018".
  40. "Orson Welles: Drawings and Sketches". 2018-07-26.
  41. Jones, Jonathan (2018-07-27). "Edinburgh art festival review – a plodding, poor relation of the fringe". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  42. Keegan, Rebecca. "They'll Love Me When I'm Dead: The Bonkers Backstory of Orson Welles's Last Movie". HWD. Retrieved 2019-01-18.
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