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Orson Welles rejected by Army

Orson Welles rejected by Army

May 6, 1943: Orson Welles leaves his Army physical after being rejected for military service and given a 4-F draft status. Welles was facing public criticism for not entering military service during World War II.

The next morning, the Los Angeles Times reported:

Orson Welles, even in his bare pelt as he was yesterday for an uncomfortable hour, is a mercurial young man.

He’s also 4-F in the draft because, at the end of his period of nakedness in the presence of Army sawbones at the induction station in the Pacific Electric Building, he was rejected for military service.

Although enjoying draft deferment until November, under an extension recently granted him, the 28-year-old actor, producer, director, writer and whatnot of the entertainment world yesterday submitted himself to examination to settle the point whether he will wear the country’s uniform or not.

Neither Welles nor the Army functionaries would discuss the nature of his disability.

Welles’ blood pressure went up sharply as he observed newspaper reporters and photographers waiting to see him after his examination.

“What the hell are you fellows doing here?” Welles bellowed. When asked the reason for his heat, Welles explained, “You’re lousing me up with these doctors, that’s what!”

Welles demanded in forceful language the identity of a Times reporter, but immediately apologized for his attitude.

While dressing after his medial examination, Welles threatened to heave another reporter out the window. The reporter took the challenge.

But by the time Welles had finished dressing his belligerency had deserted him. He willingly posed for pictures.

This photo was cropped to a mug shot and ran with the previously quoted story.

In 1999, this image was published in the L.A. Times book. “High Exposure: Hollywood Lives — Found Photos from the Archives of the Los Angeles Times.” In the book, Welles’ anger was explained:

Orson Welles was publicly hounded to enlist by the powerful Hearst newspapers, still angered by his production of “Citizen Kane,” clearly based on a thinly veiled portrayal of media mogul William Randolph Hearst. At his physical, he is classified 4-F, unfit for military service because of a variety of medical ailments.

2 Comments

  1. September 29, 2011, 10:12 am

    Hearst cronies hounded Welles out of the career he deserved. The rumor mill kept being fed by the Hearst machine long after William Randolph shuffled off. Generations later, the dark stigma still stuck.

    By: Arye Michael Bender
  2. October 1, 2013, 1:49 am

    All this Hearst/Wells CK nonsense could have EASILY been avoided by Mr. WRH saying “Hey Orson loved that flick of yours!!!” come on up to the ranch and we’ll screen it.

    By: Boggs Bonney

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