Billboard article of January 22 1944 cites the decision to air the Mobilgas-sponsored Your Radio Almanac exclusively over the CBS-Pacific Network
Mobilgas Spot Ad for Orson Welles Mercury Radio Almanac from 44-01-26
First contemplated as the 'most expensive quarter hour slot on the air' New York's Biow and William Morris agencies were reported dickering over a 1945 successor to Orson Welles' Your Radio Almanac as early as November 1945
The next sponsor to reject the pricey proposed half-hour Orson Welles vehicle was Eversharp citing improper use of the proposed material (Billboard magazine from January 6 1945)
After Orson Welles Almanac had run its course over CBS, Welles undertook a 700-word syndicated column of commentary in twelve newspapers across the U.S.
February 1945 Billboard article announcing that the Blue Network would do an air version of Welles' Orson Welles Almanac
Subsequent February 1945 Billboard article announces that Welles' Almanac was on hold due to the departure of the Blue Network's former idea man, Stanley Joseloff.
Welles' participation on the ABC-produced week-long coverage of Sumner Welles' 1945 Peace Conference Forum led to another short, half-hour series hosted by Welles to futher explore the Peace Effort, also over ABC (from April 29 1945 Billboard magazine)
Billboard article announcing Orson Welles' series of 15-minute commentaries (from July 28 1945)
The Billboard's Fall schedule for ABC cites Orson Welles on the schedule for Sunday, September 16 1945
Lear Radio Show spot ad from September 15 1945 (and yes, they spelled it 'Wells' not 'Welles')
Premiere announcement of Orson Welles Almanac from September 16 1945
Bill Lear, circa 1950, Inventor, Engineer, and founder of Lear Development, makers of Lear Radios and Wire Recorders.
Orson Welles Almanac spot ad from September 30 1945
The Billboard from September 14 1946 cites a 'shortage of radio parts' as the reason that Lear Radios stopped sponsoring Orson Welles Almanac
The Negro Theatre Unit of The Federal Theatre Project mounted an All-Negro Macbeth set in Haiti, with Welles' direction and quidance.
The finale of All-Negro performance of Macbeth as part of the Works Progress Administration.
The infamous and scurilous Red Channels periodical which served as little more than a commercialized extortion vehicle directed against the alleged communists and fascists the publication compiled from the files of the House Un-American Activities Committee
Lear Radio's Orson Welles Almanac aired over ABC Key Station WJZ during 1946
Welles' 1946 broadcasts were recorded and broadcast over KECA, Hollywood
The level of panic and disorientation that ensued after Orson Welles' 1938 Mercury Theatre's radio adaptation of Herbert George Wells' chillingThe War of The Worlds over CBS Radio was the stuff of Radio legend. The broadcast was so realistic, so compelling and so carefully crafted that it was taken as a real attack throughout the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Given the far slower communications of the day, before it could be revealed as a simple Radio drama the panic had already begun to spread throughout the United States.
That was the power of Radio. That was the power of the gifted band of renegade dramatists, scenarists, actors and technicians that made up Orson Welles and John Houseman's Mercury Theatre Repertory Company. Founded in August 1937, Houseman and Welles formed a revolutionary troupe of actors and stage technicians who began turning the theories of classical stage drama on their ear. While producing some of history's classic stage dramas, Mercury Theatre approached each of the productions they mounted with out-of-the-box thinking. They mounted an all-Negro Macbeth set in Haiti, starring The Negro Theatre Unit of the Federal Theatre Project. They successfully produced Marc Blitzstein’s controversial labor union opera, The Cradle Will Rock (1937), also under the auspices of the Federal Theatre Project. They mounted Julius Caesar set in fascist Italy in contemporary clothes and almost no sets to speak of. What sets they did employ were stark, spare and little more than a platform upon which to act. The only traditional effect was lighting, which they also employed in revolutionary ways for the time.
The chronology of the Mercury Theatre productions between 1937 and 1946 was as follows:
- Les Miserables (1937)
- Mercury Theatre On The Air (1938) [First-Person Singular]
- Campbell Playhouse (1938 - 1941)
- Lady Esther Presents Orson Welles (1941-1942)
- Mercury Theatre's Hello Americans (1942-1943)
- Orson Welles Mercuary Radio Almanac [Your Almanac] (1944)
- The Mercury Summer Theatre of The Air (Summer of 1946)
Les Miserables (1937) was comprised of most of the players from Welles' and Houseman's Mercury Theatre repertory, but Les Miserables was not specifically referred to as a Mercury Theatre production. As such it was more an Orson Welles vehicle than a Mercury Theatre production per se. But as a matter of historical fact, virtually all of the core Mercury Theatre ensemble made an appearance in one chapter or another of the Les Miserables chapters.
Mercury Theatre On The Air (1938) was far and away the most innovative and historically significant production of the Mercury Theatre Radio franchise. Though overshadowed in Radio History by the extraordinary result of its notorious The War of The Worlds program, all of the remaining productions were equally radical or innovative for their time. Julius Caesar was presented in much the same format as their Stage production, set in contemporary fascist Italy. Welles' Sherlock Holmes characterization was heralded as one of the finest interpretations of the morphine-addicted detective genius as had ever been heard over Radio. And all three of the Charles Dickens productions--A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers--were very well received.
As a sustaining production, CBS got a lot of bang for their buck with Mercury Theatre On the Air, but it had always been Welles and Houseman's hope that they'd find a commercial sponsor for their productions--and the increased budget, advertising, and promotion that would come with it. And finally, during Program #18 of Mercury Theatre On the Air, Orson Welles announced the Campbell's sponsorship that would begin in December of 1938.
The Campbell Playhouse sponsorship of Mercury Theatre arrived with the fanfare one might expect from one of Radio's most prolific sponsors. Both parties benefited, although one has to wonder if the deal had already been inked before The War of The Worlds aired. And with Campbell's sponsorship, magazines and newspapers began printing Campbell's spot ads promoting the series. The program's audience increased and with all the attendant notoriety in the aftermath of The War of The Worlds, all three parties--CBS, Campbell's and Mercury Theatre--had every reason to celebrate the program's success.
The Campbell Playhouse ran for three seasons. Seasons One and Two were produced by Orson Welles himself. Season Three was produced by Mercury Theatre's John Houseman. Welles had departed to pursue his two seminal Films, Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). With much of the Mercury Theatre ensemble busy with Welles' film projects, Campbell's employed many of Hollywood's most famous names to star in the third season of Campbell Playhouse's productions.
The Campbell Playhouse's third season was delayed for a week over some CBS/Campbell kerfuffle about the alleged fifth column theme of the proposed original script penned by John Houseman and Wyllis Cooper. The remaining programs were heavily promoted up through Program 25, after which Campbell's detailed spot ads tailed off and few if any of the subsequent programs were announced by either title or stars. This was an important marker for Orson Welles over Radio. He was becoming more political and publicly opinionated and it was beginning to show in his Film and Radio work.
That might have been the end of Mercury Theatre of The Air, but for Orson Welles' return to participate in a House of Lady Esther sponsored season of Mercury Theatre, this time presented in a Drama/Variety format. Called variously, Lady Esther Presents Orson Welles, The Orson Welles Theatre, The Lady Esther Mercury Theatre, or some combination of the three, the mixed format also introduced none other than Walt Disney's Jiminy Cricket in a recurring 'role'. Jiminy Cricket was purportedly Orson Welles' 'conscience' throughout the series. The variety/drama format wasn't new to Welles. That's how he got his start in Radio. The Jiminy Cricket/Orson Welles formula never really jelled and the Lady Esther run pretty much spelled the end of the Mercury Theatre series of productions. It folded by February 1942, to mixed reviews and public acceptance. Welles had begun sharing some of his social, cultural and political commentaries, but they were met with mixed reviews for the era as well.
The Mercury Theatre's next production appeared in November of 1942 as Hello, Americans, funded by CBS and U.S. Government's Coordinator for Latin-American Affairs (the Department of State). Welles had announced an impending trip to South America during the last episode of Mercury Theatre of The Air, and true to his word, he spent the following year touring South America and working on a Film project in Brazil and a Film project in Mexico. Welles was apparently approached by the State Department with the concept for Hello Americans and when Welles wasn't working on his Film projects he gathered sound bites, recordings and background for the Hello, Americans project. One gets the impression that Welles was genuinely affected by what he saw during his tour and it was equally important to wrest back our influence in South America from the in-roads the Axis powers had made there. The ten episodes of Hello Americans that were actually broadcast were Mercury Theatre-caliber productions, cast from both the Mercury Theatre Players and Hollywood's finest voice talent.
Mercury Theatre's next airing was another departure--Mercury Theatre's Orson Welles Radio Almanac [Your Radio Almanac] of 1944 for Socony and it's Mobilgas brand. The program was a combination of interview and commentary, sketch, and variety. The thirty-nine episode series featured some of the biggest stars of Radio, Screen, and Stage in a novel, laid back type of format. Broadcast only in California, it was heard only over KNX, Hollywood and other CBS affiliate stations in California--though it was received in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Welles took the opportunity to stage several dramatic and patriotic presentations over the course of the run as well. The series was equal parts poignant, humorous, stirring, and controversial--as well as refreshingly candid on occasion.
The Mercury Theatre players were by no means idle for the intervening year until their next outing, but it wasn't until the Summer of 1946 that the Mercury Theatre returned to Radio as The Mercury Summer Theatre of The Air. The final season of Mercury Theatre was short, but sweet. The troupe reprised four of their productions from years past, while introducing several spendidly mounted new productions. The Mercury Theatre magic was still present for fifteen more programs. Welles was as much in demand as ever and the Mercury Theatre troupe had scored innumerable successes both together, and in their own individual careers. For one last Summer the heyday of the Mercury Theatre could be relived again--minus Jiminy Cricket, thank you very much.
Running parallel to Welles' Mercury Theatre productions between 1944 and 1946 was the Orson Welles produced and directed This Is My Best for Cresta Blanca Wines over CBS. Welles also appeared in many of the productions, as did many of the alumni of the Mercury Theatre.
Orson Welles expands his Radio commentaries with Orson Welles Almanac in Print
While Welles' participation with the Mercury Theatre over Radio had all but ended by the Fall of 1946, Welles' experience with his previous commentaries over Radio--and the mixed reactions they often generated--propelled him to pursue other platforms from which to make public his observations. His Mobilgas-sponsored Orson Welles Almanac [Your Radio Almanac] series of 1944, though airing only thirty-nine episodes, caught the attention of newspaper editors and publishers across America--not for the variety and drama, but for Welles' brief commentaries and observations.
So it was that the next chapter of Orson Welles Almanac arrived in print form in January 1945 as a new syndicated newspaper column, Orson Welles Almanac. Initially syndicated to twelve newspapers across the country, Welles had found yet another medium for his talents. The promotions for his new column cited Welles as, "Actor, Director, Producer, Playwright, Author and now . . . Columnist." That list could just as well have included, "Artist, Lecturer, Magician, Commentator, and Composer" by 1945--with no exaggeration whatsoever.
At about the time that Welles' column would begin appearing in the newspapers Welles' embarked on the lecture circuit with his, "The Nature of the Enemy" presentation, an effort that kept him on the road for the first half of 1945. Welles' daughter Rebecca had been born just a month earlier on December 17, 1944--to Welles and his wife Rita Hayworth. Needless to say, Welles' plate was fairly full during the first half of 1945.
From the April 9, 1945 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press:
Orson Welles Becomes
By VIRGINIA MACPHERSON
A Newspaper Columnist
Hollywood, April 9, (BUP)--Orson Welles, who at 29 has scared a nation to death, sawed a lady in half, and dabbled in every department of the acting profession, is now focusing his genius in another field. The boy wonder has turned columnist.
Five days a week about a dozen metropolitan papers carry 700 words worth of Welles' views on politics--world. Washington and otherwise. He calls it Orson Welles' Almanac and that covers just about anything.
"I write about the international situation the way the boys are running the country, and the way we're fighting the war." he explained. "Mostly, it's what I think about things."
About once a month he has a column on Hollywood. And every once in a while he may just toss in a poem or a recipe--just to keep things lively.
This isn't the first time Welles has turned out a column. But this is the first time he hasn't gotten fired.
"I ghosted a drama column for a critic in Dublin when I was on the stage there," he explained. "And never did Welles get such good notices. I really poured it on."
It took the Dublin publisher about a month to catch on. Then it took him only a minute to fire both the drama critic--and his ghost.
Welles says he kind of wonders why he hasn't gone back to newspapering long before this.
"People say I'm doing it just to keep my name in print or just to show off," he protested. "But I'm not. I really think I'm doing a job. Heaven knows it's more satisfying than acting."
A Lazy Man's Job
"Acting is a lazy man's job," said Mr. Welles, who thinks nothing of writing, directin, producing and acting in his own movies. "Every actor in town is overpaid. Even me. Lots of us would rather do something else. But we like that fat pay cheque every week."
The man from Mars is still drawing his. Currently it's for his work in Tomorrow Is Forever. Between scenes he pounds out his column on a battered portable in his dressing room. Says it takes him about three hours to settle a knotty international problem.
In true Welles style he goes the other columnists one better. Has six beautiful secretaries who take down his notes and do research. One of 'em always retypes his column after he's corrected it. That, he says, is so the publishers can read it.
"But I don't have any stuff of tipsters," he said. "what you read in the Almanac is my own stuff. And I'm liable to sound off on anything from the situation in India to a fancy way to cook goulash."
Hollywood he ignores. Gossip--ditto.
"I know I could sell my stuff to a lot more papers if I'd write a movie column," he said. "But I'd rather write about significant things."
We're glad he feels that way. We wouldn't relish having O. Welles as competition.
Plans for Orson Welles' Commentaries resurface over Radio
As early as November 1944, the Biow Agency [for Procter & Gamble] and the William Morris Agency [for Orson Welles] were hammering out the concept for what was then projected to be the "most expensive half-hour slot on the air," pegged at a then estimated budget of $5,000 per half hour. The concept would have called for a 14-piece orchestra, guest talent and Welles interviewing, commentating, and hosting. Procter & Gamble having passed on the project, the next taker, Eversharp, similarly bailed on the concept citing improper use of the material proposed for the--by then--15-minute format. The next likely taker was Cresta Blanca Wines, still currently sponsoring the Welles-produced This Is My Best. Apparently Cresta Blanca declined as well.
Welles and the Blue Network subsequently entered negotiations for a more modest production of an air version of Welles' syndicated newspaper commentaries, at that point pegged to come in at an estimated $2,500 for each weekly, 15-minute installment. Those negotiations fell through when the Blue Network's New York 'idea man,' Stanley Joseloff left the network for the Biow Agency. It was hinted that the Mutual network had also expressed an interest in the more modest project and that other Blue Network managers at 30 Rockefeller Center weren't nearly as enthused about the Orson Welles commentaries project as Joseloff had been. The Orson Welles commentaries proposal remained on the shelf at ABC for another six months
Welles and ABC mount the Orson Welles Peace Conference Forum
About four months into Orson Welles' syndicated column Welles began appearing over the Blue Network (ABC) in a half-hour interview and commentary program referred to as Orson Welles' Peace Conference Forum. Airing sustained on Sunday afternoons from approximately May 6, 1945 to June 10, 1945, the Orson Welles Peace Conference Forum provided Welles another opportunity to extend his social and political activism towards achieving World Peace. The format also marked a return of Orson Welles' commentaries in much the same vein as similar elements that had appeared within both Hello, Americans and Orson Welles Almanac over CBS. Welles had actively participated in Sumner Welles' 1945 San Francisco Peace Conference Forum. ABC's wall-to-wall coverage of the April 1945 Peace Conference Forum also provided the Blue Network, struggling to gain respectabilty as a network of substance, the opportunity to show its versatility as a current events network. Orson Welles' subsequent 5-week extension of the Peace Conference Forum, also marked Welles' first appearances in a regularly scheduled program over the young ABC Network, still referred to as the Blue Network at the time. ABC and Orson Welles both gained further patina as serious observers of international affairs. That relationship having been established, within four months Orson Welles would reprise his Orson Welles Almanac for another year of weekly, 15-minute commentaries over ABC.
Orson Welles' Commentaries finally find a sponsor over ABC
Orson Welles' sponsor for at least fifty-two weeks of Welles' 15-minute commentaries was Lear Home Radios and Wire Recorders. Lear had achieved great success with its military aviation controls and radios throughout World War II. As with many successful milliary suppliers of the era, Lear had a great deal of cash on hand and an even greater desire to break out of the post-War era with viable peacetime consumer products and general aviation applications. Almost immediately suffering something of an identity crisis, the program was first promoted as the Lear Radio Show, then Lear Radio Presents Orson Welles, and ultimately, Orson Welles' Almanac. The program premiered on Sunday afternoons in a 15-minute format on September 16, 1945. Even more dramatically reduced in scope than the preceding three concepts for the program, the series ultimately aired featuring predominately Orson Welles and his commentaries, with occasional supporting appearances by guest celebrities and friends in a fairly relaxed, informal setting.
From the September 12, 1945 edition of the Carbondale Free Press:
ESSAYISTS OF THE AIR
Perhaps a little more than a generation ago, American literature was enriched by the writings of the Essayists: Men such as Emerson, Holmes, Thoreau, Whittier, Riley, and others. Since then, the leisurely reading habits of this country have changed, and the essayist has lost his appeal as a reading diet. The essay itself, however, has been replaced by something more modern, more interesting--the radio commentator.
The radio commentator talks about many things. He may discuss current events, or history; or social trends; or anything his fancy dictates. But he does it interestingly and entertainingly. What they have to say, and how they say it, influences our way of thinking on a wide range of subjects which they discuss.
Typical among such commentators is Orson Welles, youthful genius of theatre, radio and the movies. His talks on various subjects have proven mighty interesting, as shown by the high rating held by his program, broadcast coast-to-coast over the American Broadcasting Company network every Sunday afternoon at 1:15 EWT.
Equally typical is the fact that the commentator is not hampered by any rules laid down by the sponsor, in this case Lear Home Radios, but is given the freedom of expression that has always been granted to writers and speakers, without the least commercial influence being used on them.
And from the 45-09-16 Hutchinson News-Herald:
Welles' Finger In Many Pies
Hollywood (AP)--It's time to bring the catalogue of wonders concerning Orson Welles up to date. The wonder boy came to the film capital on Martian wings in 1940, and he's been very much in evidence since.
Labeled by Hollywood opinion as the greatest genius or the greatest flop the town ever had seen, Welles so far has proved to be neither. But he may yet land the genius wreath, and certainly he's no flop. Professionally, he has proved himself in many capacities. He was smart enough commercially to earn $80,000 in one year, but reported a deficit of $65,000 because of investments in theatrical enterprises.
Welles is so active in so many capacities that it's impossible to overlook him for long--if you go to the movies, listen to the radio, read the papers or attend the theater. Folks around Hollywood can't escape him in person even if they would, for he loves the restaurants where the food is good, and he's a regular at the prize fights.
Plays Opposite Claudette
Recently Welles completed a role opposite Claudette Colbert in "Tomorrow Is Forever." He's scheduled to star in and direct an as yet unnamed film for the same company. He has a deal pending with another studio to complete the footage he shot a couple of years ago in South America. That's the film situation.
For the theater, he is slated to collaborate on the book and direct a stage production, with music by Cole Porter, for Mike Todd.
He writes a syndicated column of political comment, and he is to start a Sunday morning broadcast of comment over the American network today. He made four broadcasts from the United Nations conference in San Francisco.
Personally, he's popular, a somewhat unexpected development in view of the way Hollywood folk shied away from him like a strange fowl in the barnyard in his early days here. Good-natured, joking, always a good talker, he usually dominates any conversation.
Workers on his pictures regard him with affection, no matter how he may storm at careless work. They know they'll get the best pay, a square deal, full consideration--but no gifts--from their boss. They won't be bored, but they may be deviled into doing things they hadn't thought possible.
By and large, Hollywood has come to accept Welles as part of the scene, though always prepared for some startling maneuver. Welles accepts Hollywood in much the same manner, always reserving the right to amaze the town again.
Orson Welles had an uncanny knack for discovering and collaborating with equally brilliant and gifted performers, composers, writers, activists, and professionals. William Powell ' Bill ' Lear was no exception. By 1945, Bill Lear's accomplishments included the following:
- By his early 20's Bill Lear and Elmer Wavering had invented the world's first practical car radio, calling it "Moto-Rola" or Motorola. And yes, that's the same Motorola as the electronics and computer chip giant of today. Lear and Wavering sold the patents to their revolutionary car radio to Galvin Manufacturing Corporation in 1930, which eventually became the Motorola we know today.
- Bill Lear plowed the profits from his sale of Moto-Rola into his Lear Developments, a pioneering electronics firm specializing in aviation instrumentation. Throughout World War II, Lear developed radio direction finders, autopilots and the first fully-automated aircraft landing system.
- As World War II wound down, Lear developed wire recorders, portable radios, and modular, panel-mounted radios and avionics for general aviation applications.
And yes, that's the same Bill Lear that went on to develop the Lear Jet (1963) and the Lear Jet 8-track stereo music cartridge (1964) for both automotive and general aviation applications. Lear also went on to develop one of the first closed circuit steam turbine engines for automobiles and buses (1968) and to further refine the use of composite materials in the manufacture of airframes (1970s).
Lear Radios gave Orson Welles a relatively free hand on the subject matter of his commentaries until Welles aired a series of 1946 commentaries on the brutal maiming and blinding of the recently discharged negro Army Sergeant Isaac Woodard, Jr. on February 13, 1946.
Having just been mustered out from Camp Gordon outside Augusta, Georgia, 27-year old Sgt. Woodard was traveling in the back of a Greyhound bus with a small group of other negro soldiers, enroute to the home of members of Woodard's family in North Carolina. Just outside of Augusta, the Greyhound bus driver had stopped and Woodard asked the driver if there was time for a quick restroom break. The driver reportedly grudging acceded to Woodard's request and after reboarding, the bus departed without further incident. Shortly after crossing the border into South Carolina, the bus driver came to a stop at Batesburg, South Carolina. The driver reportedly contacted the local police, who forcibly removed Sgt. Woodard from the bus. The police then demanded Sgt. Woodard's discharge papers, took him to a nearby alley, and beat Sgt. Woodard literally senseless with their nightsticks. They then took Woodard to jail, charging him with disorderly conduct and drinking beer in the back of the bus with other negro soldiers. Woodard awoke the following morning blinded in both eyes and suffering partial amnesia. The police then took Woodard before the local judge who found Sgt. Woodard guilty and fined Woodard fifty dollars.
Woodard requested medical attention but it took two days to get a doctor to see him. Woodard then found himself in a hospital in Aiken, South Carolina, disorientated and having received substantial and extensive medical care. Missing for three weeks, Woodard's family finally found him in Aiken and had him immediately transferred to the Army Hospital at Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Army doctors found both of Woodard's corneas damaged beyond repair, apparently repeatedly crushed by nightsticks during the night and early morning Woodard was first incarcerated.
Orson Welles, already a fervent civil rights activist by 1945, began a series of five or six of his commentaries on the blinding of Sgt. Woodard throughout the Summer of 1946. Welles' first commentary of that series began with his recitation of The Affidavit of Sgt. Woodard--Woodard's affidavit had been deposed in April of 1946. It had taken some three months for the story of Sgt. Woodard's blinding to reach national attention in the newspapers of the era. The judicial system of South Carolina had repeatedly refused or delayed Sgt. Woodard's requests to address Woodard's charges against the Batesburg Police. The War Department repeatedly refused to address Sgt. Woodard's case, citing the fact that Woodard was a civilian at the time of his beating.
In that first stirring commentary on the grotesque abuse of Sgt. Woodard's civil rights, Welles mistakenly excoriated the city of Aiken, Georgia for its callousness and abuse of Sgt. Woodard. Woodard had since relocated back to his home in The Bronx, New York, but his wife subsequently divorced him, due to Woodard's non-service-related disability and notoriety. It wasn't until the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) took up Woodard's case that Woodard's abuse found a national forum.
Welles followed Sgt. Woodard's case for the following four weeks, from July 28th 1946 to August 25th 1946. During that time, Welles reported that the city of Aiken had banned Welles' movies, burned Welles' posters, burned Welles in effigy, and threatened to sue Welles for $2 million in civil damages. In Welles' defense, virtually every newspaper account during the five months following Woodard's attack indicated that investigators from the Veteran's Administration and the Justice Department were interviewing the police and hospital personnel of Aiken, South Carolina in their investigations. The Police Chief of Aiken predictably stated that his force had no knowlege whatsoever of either Sgt. Woodard or the reasons for or means by which Sgt. Woodard was conveyed to the hospital in Aiken for three weeks of treatment. That Police Chief's initial statesments along with those of Police Chief Shull of Batesburg were ultimately repudiated in court. By Welles' August 25th 1946 broadcast, Batesburg Chief of Police Lynwood Lanier Shull had been identified as the perpetrator of most of Sgt. Woodard's injuries. Though Welles ultimately identified Batesburg, not Aiken, as the city in which Woodard had been maimed, the damage to Welles' commentaries had already been done.
In the wake of Welles' commentaries on the case of Sgt. Woodard, Lear Radios reportedly began demanding that Welles submit his written commentaries to the sponsor for Lear's review prior to their broadcast, censoring out those elements that Lear felt might be objectionable or too controversial.
The continuing controversy that many of the Orson Welles Almanac commentaries generated caught the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC -- from 1938 to 1969), which by 1945 had become a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. The HUAC had begun investigating the Works Progress Administration, The Federal Theatre Project and the Federal Writers' Project in as early as 1938 for possible ties to communist or fascist leanings or infiltration. Welles' earlier involvement with the Federal Theatre Project and its Negro Theatre Unit had come to the attention of the HUAC, as had Welles' associations with other performers, writers, causes and committees Welles had worked with or supported.
By the end of 1946, Welles' name found its way into three pages of charges of association with many of the other 150 cited alleged communists in the infamous "Red Channels" periodical maintained by the black-shirt chapter of the ultra-right wing American Legion of the era. The erstwhile ultra-secret investigation unit of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) apparently felt entirely justified in franchising its extortion and protection racket through a couple of ex-FBI agents working under the auspices of the American Legion. The only 'channeling' involved with 'Red Channels' was that performed by HUAC "investigators" channeling their lies, innuendoes and hearsay to the ex-FBI agents who would then offer their 'services' for a considerable fee to the alleged targets of Red Channels to 'clear' those targets. But of course as was intended all along, by the time any of the gullible targets hired the ex-FBI agents to 'clear' them, the damage to their careers and livelihoods had already been done--in several instances either ending those careers or pushing the targets to suicide.
There was no disputing Welles' alleged associations. Many of the other identified 'communists' in Red Channels were not only close associates of Orson Welles, but friends of long standing as well. Will Geer, Howard da Silva, Dorothy Comingore [Kay Winters], Vincent Price, Lucille Ball, Burgess Meredith, Ruth Gordon, Edward G. Robinson, Judy Holliday, Don Hollenbeck, and playwright and author, Arthur Miller had all been close associates of Orson Welles over the years. Welles was also--quite accurately--cited having affiliations with (in no particular chronological order):
- International Labor Defense
- The American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign-Born
- The American Student Union
- The Artists' Front to Win the War
- The Citizens' Committee for Harry Bridges
- The Coordinating Commitee to Lift the Embargo
- The Daily Worker
- The Exiled Writers' Committee
- The Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
- The Hollywood Democratic Committee
- The Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee
- The Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy
- The Motion Picture Artists' Committee
- The National Citizens Political Action Committee
- The National Council of American-Soviet Fellowship
- The Negro Cultural Committee
- The Russian War Relief Appeal
- The Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee
- The Theatre Arts Committee
Needless to say, Orson Welles not only refused to repudiate any of those past associations, he was understandably quite proud of most of them. The attention and scrutiny Welles was receiving at the hands of the HUAC, in combination with the controversial subject matter of his last months of Orson Welles Almanac commentaries resulted in Welles' work over American Radio all but finished by the Winter of 1946. Welles, under a reported threat of subpoena by the HUAC, expatriated to England and Europe from 1947 to 1957. The trade papers and newspapers of the era regularly cited alleged problems with the Internal Revenue Service for Welles' expatriation, but history tends to support Welles' growing political problems in the U.S. as the primary motivating factor in Welles' self-imposed exile during the period. As an example, though Variety and other trade papers and newspapers of the era had widely reported Welles owing an arrearage of some $300,000 on his 1946 return, Welles was actually issued a refund check for his 1946 tax return in the amount of $984.00. Welles did indeed experience problems with the IRS during the ensuing thirteen years, but not when he initially expatriated to Europe.
While Welles' remarkable career over American Radio may well have ended in 1946, at least three of Welles' most fondly remembered Radio canons were recorded in England between 1947 and 1957: The Black Museum (1950), The Lives of Harry Lime (1951), and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1956, with Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph Richardson, in which Welles portrayed the infamous Professor Moriarty).