6 May 2014

Orson Welles' nose obsession

Orson Welles was very self-conscious about his nose. He thought his nose was too small and once said that it "had not grown one millimetre since infancy". Therefore in most of his films Welles put on false noses. For his role as attorney Clarence Darrow in "Compulsion" (1959), Richard Fleischer's version of the famous Leopold & Loeb murder case, Welles also wore a fake nose.

left photo: Maurice Seiderman working on Welles' nose for "Citizen Kane"; right photo: Orson Welles and his new nose in "Compulsion".
The following letter was written by Orson Welles to his make-up artist Maurice Seiderman regarding a new nose for his role in "Compulsion". Welles tells Seiderman to have "three weeks worth of noses" ready for him upon his arrival back in Hollywood. Welles who was living in Italy at the time for tax reasons, could only spend a limited amount of time in the U.S. and was clearly in a hurry to get the nose job done. Incidentally, Maurice Seiderman was not hired to do "Compulsion", the film's make-up artist was Ben Nye.


Transcript: 

Dearest Maury,

I expect to be back in Hollywood about the first of October to do a job for Twentieth: the Darrow part in "Compulsion". I'll need a nose-- the enclosed sketches indicate the general idea. There'll be no time for make-up tests-- I'll be arriving (for tax purposes) the day before actual shooting starts, so you'll have to be ready with three weeks worth of noses all baked and perfect. Dont talk to Twentieth about this-- I'll handle it myself. Either you'll be put on the picture (if you're free) or paid for your work. My part lasts about three weeks. 
If you cant do this please wire at once.

love Orson (signed)

care "Mori" Largo Bradano 4 Roma Italy

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