Who is Beatrice Welles?
Beatrice Giuditta Welles is an American former child actress who garnered popularity for portraying Falstaff's Page in the 1965 historical drama film ‘Chimes at Midnight’, which was directed by her father, the legendary actor and filmmaker Orson Welles. She also appeared in his Italian-language documentary travelogue series about Spain, titled ‘In the Land of Don Quixote’, in which she starred alongside Welles and her mother, Paola Mori. Her mother was an Italian countess, who could trace back her ancestry to 400 AD. As a child, she wanted to pursue an equestrian career. However, a severe injury that she sustained when she was a teenager put a permanent stop to those pursuits. Also a retired model and radio and television personality, she established her own line of cosmetics and is an accomplished designer of handbags and jewellery. One of the three children of Orson Welles, she serves as the administer of his estate.
Early Life & Family
Born on November 13, 1955, in Manhattan, New York, USA, Beatrice is the daughter of Orson Welles, and his third wife, Paola Mori. Welles had two other daughters from previous relationships, Christopher Welles Feder and the late Rebecca Welles Manning. It was her paternal grandmother, the concert pianist Beatrice Ives Welles, after whom she was named. Her baptism took place at the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church in Beverly Hills. Her godparents were Frank Sinatra and actress Mercedes McCambridge.
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Education & CareerBeatrice was predominantly raised in Europe and did not receive a formal education. Instead, her parents hired private tutors to educate her. Her first stage appearance came when she was five years old, in an Irish stage production of ï¿½
During the shooting of ‘The Immortal Story’ (1968), which was mostly filmed at the Welles family home outside Madrid, Spain, Beatrice stayed in the editing room with her father for countless hours. In 1964, she starred alongside her parents in ‘In the Land of Don Quixote’. She was also part of the production of her father’s unfinished film based on the same character, ‘Don Quixote’.
Since she was quite young, she had harboured aspirations of becoming a professional equestrian. However, that ended after she was severely injured as a teenager. She subsequently decided to become a model. She was featured in layouts in ‘Vogue’ and walked on runway in Paris, Milan, London, and New York, modelling for brands like Valentino, Halston, and Chanel. In the early 1970s, she was employed as a news director at KAZM-AM radio in Arizona. Later, she became a regional television personality and served as a long-time spokeswoman for a major southwestern automotive dealership.
Inspired by her friendships with renowned makeup artists Kevin Aucoin and Barbara Daly, Welles launched her own cosmetics line. She had several celebrities as her clients, including Diana, Princess of Wales, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, and Oprah Winfrey. She also set up a line of designer handbags and jewellery. Its products were only available at Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona, Arizona.
Later Life, Family & Administrating the Orson Welles Estate
Beatrice’s father, mother, and maternal grandmother passed away within a span of ten months in the mid-1980s. She has been married twice in her life. Her first husband was Christopher Smith, to whom she was married from April 27, 1987, to September 12, 1995. She and her second husband, Jonathan O'Donoghue, exchanged wedding vows on June 6, 1997, and divorced in 2004.
Following the deaths of her parents, Beatrice had to resolve intricate issues related to her father’s estate. She came to an agreement with her father’s long-time partner Oja Kodar, signing a settlement deal with her on November 7, 1986, in a Clark County, Nevada courthouse.
She oversaw the restoration of her father’s film, ‘Othello’ (1951), which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 1992. In 1998, she criticised the efforts of re-editing ‘Touch of Evil’ (1958), as the people responsible for it were going to advertise it as a director’s cut without letting her see it before its release. For several years, she vehemently opposed the attempts of finishing Welles’ last film, ‘The Other Side of the Wind’. Eventually, she accepted and supported a project helmed by Polish-born filmmaker Filip Jan Rymsza and producer Frank Marshall. She served as an executive producer on the film, which was streamed on Netflix in August 2018. Beatrice collaborated with Titan Books and author Simon Braund on ‘Orson Welles Portfolio: Sketches and Drawings from the Welles Estate’, which was put out on February 19, 2019.
A devoted animal rights activist, Beatrice contributed significantly to setting up one of the first low-cost spaying and neutering clinics in US.