Here's Norman Corwin's tribute to Welles from the Museum of Broadcasting book, ORSON WELLES ON THE AIR.
Eight days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a company of stars assembled in o Hollywood radio studio to rehearse on hour-long program commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. It was an all-network hookup fortified by some of the biggest talents of the era, a cast that included Edward Arnold, Lionel Barrymore, Walter Brennan, Bob Bums, Walter Huston, Marjorie Main. Edward G. Robinson, James Stewart, and Rudy Vallee.
And Orson Welles.
He could not show up at the start of rehearsal because he had to come from far out of town, so we worked around him. We did not have all day—just a few hours to get on exceptionally complicated production on its feet. And Orson's role was at the core of the piece—a long passage of rising emotion that required considerable thunder ond lightning.
He arrived late, about two minutes before dress rehearsal. He had not seen the script. It was handed to him as he walked in. No time even for the apologies he wanted to make. In a stride he was at the mike. No warmup. He read it cold, at sight. From word one he was luminous, his voice resonating as though from the innards of a cathedral organ. He smouldered. He blazed. In that magical alembic of his larynx, prose was distilled into a kind of poetry, a burst of spontaneous passion.
His peers listened in silence. When he finished, the silence lingered for a rapt moment. Then those stars, all older than he, armed wilh more credits than he, did something seldom encountered at a rehearsal. They stood up and applauded.
The show went on the air. Among responses next day were two wired blessings. The first a telegram from Jerome Kern reading, "This emotionally shaken household, together with every American within earshot, thanks and blesses you"; the second was from writer Irvin S. Cobb: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Tonight's broadcast wrote the enlistment papers for 100,000 free American volunteers."
Both messages are secure in the memorabilia of George Orson Welles.