The Orson Welles – Oja Kodar Papers
includes scripts, production documents, photographs, and other materials from Orson Welles's work in film and other media. General correspondence, topical files, papers related to Oja Kodar, and personal materials also make up a portion of collection. The bulk of the papers date from the 1960s to the 1980s with a smaller amount of material from the 1930s-1950s. The Additions to the Welles-Kodar Papers
series, acquired in 2015, complements the scripts, correspondence and photographs already held, but also include annotated typescripts of drafts for a planned memoir, additional on-the-set photographs from films, television, and other projects, personal photographs, and documents from collaborations between Welles and Kodar.
The Orson Welles - Oja Kodar Papers primarily document the creative activities of Orson Welles during the last two decades of his life. The papers also contain a smaller amount of materials from the 1930s through the early 1960s. The materials in this collection were obtained from Oja Kodar, his companion and creative collaborator from the 1960s until his death in 1985. Additional papers were acquired in 2015 and are described below in the Additions to the Welles-Kodar Papers series.
The Welles-Kodar Papers have been divided into thirteen series: Theater, Radio, Film, Television, Other projects, Magic, Name and topical, Personal, Oja Kodar, Sound, Motion pictures, Realia, and Articles and clippings. Though much of the collection was loose and unordered, any parts of the collection that were grouped or organized by Welles, his assistants, or Oja Kodar have generally been kept in their original order. The loose, unorganized papers were then arranged according to the patterns that seemed exist in the material that was organized. Essentially, the current organization of the collection is an attempt to more fully implement the organizational schemes that Welles and Kodar were employing in the collection.
The first five series (Theatre, Radio, Film, Television, Other projects) represent the bulk of the collection and are arranged by project. For example, all materials relating to Citizen Kane including correspondence, photographs, and production documents, are kept together, physically and intellectually. The projects are then ordered chronologically. For example, immediately after the Citizen Kane (1941) materials are materials related to Welles' next project, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). There are two exceptions to this project-based arrangement, where two groups of materials were kept together by production company (Astrophore and Roprama Film). Researchers should also note that Welles often worked on several projects at once so a memo filed, for example, under F for Fake (1974), may touch on Blind Window , which he was working on in roughly the same time period. Browsing through material from projects that occurred during the same general time period may therefore be a useful search strategy for researchers.
The Magic series, consists of a small amount of magic books, scripts for tricks, correspondence with magicians, and playing cards, reflects Orson Welles' strong, life-long interest in magic.
The remaining seven series (Name and topical, Personal, Kodar, Sound, Motion pictures, Realia, and Articles and clippings) contain material not generated during the making or distribution of Welles' creative projects. The Name and topical series consists of an alphabetical set of subject and name files material may range from correspondence with friends to posters from film festivals honoring or featuring Welles's work. The Name and topical series also includes correspondence with many famous filmmakers and actors and actresses. The Personal series contain photographs of Welles and materials relating to childhood friends, family, Welles's houses, and personal legal and financial matters. The Oja Kodar series includes material from her career as a sculptor, scripts she wrote, and some correspondence and personal material.
The final series: Sound, Motion pictures, Realia, and Articles and clippings, are relatively small (taken together they take up roughly 3 linear feet). Some material of note include cigar boxes on which Welles jotted various notes and a set of acetate records which seem to include a rare Welles radio performance.
The Theater series consists of a few files (about .1 linear feet) with he contents made up primarily of photographs and some programs from relatively early in his career, including the Mercury Theatre, as well as some from after he started working in film. Dates span 1934-1960.
In 2015, the library acquired the remaining Orson Welles papers in the possession of Oja Kodar. The Additions to the Wells-Kodar Papers series has been arranged into eleven series, mirroring the arrangement of the papers in the original acquisition. The series are: Theater, Radio, Film, Television, Other Projects, Magic, Name and Topical Files, Personal, Oja Kodar, Biographical Works, Clippings and Articles, and Oversize Photographs.
The Radio series consists of a few files (about .1 linear feet), related to Welles' work in the late 30's and early 1940s, including photographs, scripts, articles, and correspondence.
The Film series is the largest in the added material, comprising ca. 3 linear feet of scripts, drafts, correspondence, articles and clippings, promotional materials, and photographs. Films represented include both those directed by Welles and those directed by others in which he acted or participated. The series is arranged chronologically by film, dated according to their first public showing or general release date. Unfinished or unreleased projects are identified with an approximate date range of the years in the work took place.
The material related to the earliest films from the 1940s and 1950s consists primarily of photographs. Later unfinished films of particular interest include The Deep, Because of the Cats, The Other Side of the Wind, Crazy Weather, Assassin/The Safe House, The Other Man, The Dreamers, Big Brass Ring, and King Lear. Also included is articles, promotional materials, correspondence, and photographs from Don Quixote, filmed on and off from the late 1950's to the early 1970s. Materials are primarily related to the version which was released in 1992 after a the footage was edited and finished by director Jesus Franco, but the photographs are from the original filming.
As with drafts in the earlier accessions, Welles typically worked on scripts in sections, producing successive drafts which he then amended. The collection preserves many pages of these working drafts, which sometimes also include Welles's typed or written notes about the story and characters, along with messages to and from his typists. Minimal reorganization of the papers was done in order to preserve evidence of the process, and there are many files of "drafts" which may contain repetitions and out-of-sequence pages, filed as they were found. As Welles often worked by inserting new pages into older drafts or blending together several different versions of a scene, page numbers may not follow a logical sequence. In many cases no information about the script material was recorded before it was filed away, so dating the drafts is difficult. The dates assigned to this material are approximate. Because of the lack of identifying information on some of the material, a miscellaneous sub-series is included at the end of the series, which includes unidentified photographs and drafts of scripts.
The Television series comprises about .4 linear feet, and includes scripts, photographs, correspondence, and other materials relating to projects that were originally meant for television. This includes The Orson Welles Show, a talk show that only ever shot one episode with guests Burt Reynolds and the Muppets. Aslo included are materials related to Orson's Bag, a collection of short films including Swinging London, Stately Homes, and the Merchant of Venice, the contents of which were eventually released in 1995 as part of The One-Man Band. Other materials reflect the initial stages of a Christmas TV movie and a special for NBC.
The Other Projects series (.1 linear ft.) includes materials related to Welles' non-film related work, including advertising and vioceover work, as well as correspondence about various job offers.
The Magic series (about .5 linear ft.) includes scripts, correspondence, photographs, and other materials related to Orson Welles magic performances, including the Mercury Wonder Show, and television specials The World of Magic and Orson Welles' Magic Show. Also included are collected printed magic tricks, drafts of trick patter that he used during performances, articles and clippings, and drawings of costumes.
The Name and Topical Files series (approximately 1 linear ft.) contains primarily correspondence and various other materials arranged alphabetically by the name of a person, place, event, or subject. The series includes letters from directors and film executives such as Martin Scorsese and August Coppola, actors and actresses such as Charleton Heston and Charles Fawcett, close friends such as Roger Hill and Peter Bogdanovich, and some fans of Welles's work. Also included are posters, programs, and other materials related to film festivals and tributes to welles, including the Cannes International Film Festival and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The Personal series (1 linear ft) includes a variety of materials related to Welle's personally, rather than his screen work. This includes drafts of his writing including essays and articles about various topics, including Shakespeare and tributes and remarks about others in the film business, as well as untitled, unidentified drafts. Also in this series are works by others given to or collected by Welles including poems, short stories, and tributes. Most significant is the material from Welles' unpublished memiors, both in draft form and shorter more organized versions, along with notes, correspondence, and photographs meant for the book. Additionally, there are miscellaneous personal documents, including the notes he would write himself with lists of things that needed to be done, and notebooks with similar content as well as several doodles, one a self protrait. Correspondence with his daughters and Oja is also found in this series, as well as personal and family photographs, some from very early in his life.
The Oja Kodar series (approximately .75 linear ft.) consists of materials related to Oja Kodar's work both with and Without Orson Welles, as well as correspondence, and personal matters. The series is divided into subseries for film, writing, name and topical files, and personal. The writing and film subseries both include unpublished drafts of scripts and stories. The personal subseries included several topics related to Orson Welles' estate after his death, including real estate, legal papers related to the dispute over film rights, and Oja's eulogy for Welles. Also included are materials from her sculpture work and photographs.
The Biographical Works series (about .25 linear ft.) includes published and unpublished works about Welles written by others, including a collection of annotated correspondence, "Orson!:An Original Play", drafts of biographies by Jonathan Rosenbaum and Barbara Leaming, and a copy of The Unknown Orson Welles.
The Clippings and Articles series (approximately .5 linear ft.) is a collection of articles and clippings about Welles from various publications including magazines and newspapers. Materials are mainly arranged chronologically from before 1970 to 2014, but also included are folders of undated materials, undated clippings from Croatian/Yugoslavian publications, and photographs clipped from articles.
The Oversize series comprises two oversize boxes with oversize photographs that correspond with materials in the Film, Television, Magic, Personal, and Oja Kodar series and follows the same order. The magic subseries includes pages from a scrapbook with images from vintage magic ephemera together with images of Welles performing magic.