Flashback
A look back at this day in film history
October 21
October 10, 1985
Orson Welles dies

On this day in 1985, Orson Welles passed away at the age of 70, dying of a heart attack at his home in California. Welles’ death from a cardio pulmonary collapse was not a huge surprise to anyone who had seen around that time; he was massively overweight, and his dinners apparently consisted of two steaks, cooked rare, and a pint of scotch. Welles died at 4:30am, just after having completed an interview with Merv Griffin. Welles was a favorite guest of Griffin’s and had been on his show around 50 times, however on this occasion he especially told Griffin, "For this interview there are no subjects about which I won't speak." Usually reticent to speak about his past, Welles spoke warmly and openly about old friends and lovers, including Rita Hayworth, who Griffin noted had had her last appearance on his show. After the taping, Welles was driven to his favorite restaurant, Ma Maison, and died shortly after returning home. He famously voiced the character of Unicron (“a big toy who attacks a bunch of smaller toys," said Welles) in the cartoon Transformers: The Movie (1986). However his last screen role was in Somebody to Love (released 1987), directed by his friend Henry Jaglom. The movie, in which Welles essentially plays himself, opens with him saying these poignant lines: “You know, the great problem of movies is that they’re always old-fashioned. It takes too long to make a movie. By the time your idea is on the screen, it’s already… dead.”


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