Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:38 pm
Re: Article on OW's Draft status during WWII
Here's a pretty bold assertion from Charles Higham's RISE AND FALL OF AN AMERICAN GENIUS:
In October 1940, while (CITIZEN KANE) was still unassembled, Welles left on an extended lecture tour…Not only did he need the money, he was avoiding the draft. The studio and Herbert Drake made every effort to conceal the fact that Welles was petrified by the thought of going into the army. Even though America was not at war, public feeling had been dragged by Roosevelt to the firm position that any able-bodied man should be in uniform. Anyone who dodged the call up was considered either a sissy or a coward or both.
Welles clearly feared that if he were drafted, in view of his lack of formal education, he would be a mere private. His earning power would disappear, his career would end just as it was starting - and he would be totally unsuited to the discipline and knockabout life of the armed services. He wrote pleading letters to Weissburger, begging him to explain what could be done. On September 27 Weissberger wrote him that since he had a dependent child he might be eligible for exemption; in addition, if he were forced to break his contract with RKO, he would throw many people who depended on him permanently out of work. On October 24 the matter still needled the young genius, who advised Weissburger that because Charles Lederer was now helping to support Christopher, a deferment on that ground would be harder to acheive.
Richard France's one-man play YOUR OBEDIANT SERVANT, ORSON WELLES goes even further then that:
Welles: "…I arrived out here at a time that has become legendary. I was all of twenty-four at the time. The war hadn't started and everything was still here, all those famous names, still giving their marvelous parties! It was a sort of Gotterdammerung moment. Garbo was my next door neighbor. She didn't have a pool. So every Sunday morning, from ten to eleven, I let her use mine. I was expected to wait inside, with the curtains closed, till the last splash was heard. It wasn't that was naked or anything; she simply didn't want anyone looking at her. Well, I soon tired of that, and went in swimming with her. There we were, Garbo and I, passing the rubber ring back and forth, When the news about Pearl Harbor came over the radio. I love me country, God knows; but I didn't want to be drafted into the Army. With my lack of formal education, I would have served my time as a mere foot soldier. So, my childhood guardian, Dr. Bernstein, in his capacity as a specialist in such things, petitioned the draft board to have me classified as 4-F. (Amused) To hear him tell it, I was suffering from chronic myelitis, original syndrome arthritis, bronchial asthma - and, best of all, inverted flat feet. That was all the excuse our Mr. Hearst needed to leabel me a Soviet agent, as well as a draft dodger, in all his subject newspapers…"