Thanks to Sir Bygber Brown for posting the letters Orson Welles wrote that are currently for sale at www.abebooks.com
You can visit the site to see more details about buying the letters, but since they are selling for $2,000 and up, I don't imagine many people can afford them! However, because they are all quite interesting, I thought I'd post some excerpts from them below.
Several of the letters are written to Leonard Lyons, an early champion of Orson Welles, whose career as a journalist was nearly wrecked by William Randolph Hearst in 1941 - (see the Time Magazine article, below). After being blackballed by Mr. Hearst, Lyons became the entertainment writer for The New York Post (pre-Rupert Murdoch, of course) and Welles became his good friend, writing frequent letters to him, giving him inside information, in hopes of getting news about his projects before American producers and readers.
In this first letter (circa 1960), Welles talks about his plan to follow bullfighters in Spain, especially Antonio Ordonez, the great matador and friend of Welles, whose farm outside Ronda is where Welles ashes were eventually interred. Ordonez also provided the germ for the idea that became Welles's script for The Sacred Beasts. That screenplay, in turn, morphed into The Other Side of The Wind. In this letter, Welles also mentions a play he's written, Brittle Glory, which I've never heard any mention of. Could it still exist somewhere among Welles's many papers?
Here’s our news: Paola, Beatrice and Rebecca are in the Austrian Alps. As soon as I’m done with this dreadful picture (probably THE TARTARS), we’re joining up for a few weeks in Spain. We’ll be following Ordonez (the bull fighter), which means the south for the first ten days of September. I was in Valencia for the feria and for a few more of Antonio’s dates after that. After Spain--? Probably London. Somebody sent me a really good play from America called “The Guide” and I expect to be producing it in London either before or just after the pantomime season. Also, there’s a play of my own called “Brittle Glory.” If I can cast it right, I’ll be doing that, too. For the past few months I’ve been in a light but lingering sulk over your repeated references to Olivier’s “Rhinoceros.” (no mention of your obedient servant.) Well, now you can fix all that: (Leo) Kerz has offered me the job of directing his N.Y. production (which eventually featured Zero Mostel, Eli Wallach and Morris Carnovsky and was directed by Joseph Anthony), and in mentioning that I’ve turned it down you can right a great wrong, and finally associate me with this play!
Much love to all of you always,
Welles was understandable upset that he wasn't given much credit for directing Eugene Ionesco's RHINOCEROS. But check out the program for Orson Welles' staging of the production of RHINOCEROS when it moved to the Strand Theater, London, after opening at the Royal Court Theater:
The cast list alone is astonishing. Besides Sir Laurence Oliver, Welles directed Maggie Smith - later to appear in Oliver's version of OTHELLO, along with a host of interesting British actors, who would later become well know in hit films, such as Michael Gough (BATMAN, DRACULA), Miles Malleson (Michael Powell's THE THIEF OF BAGDAD and Terence Fisher's THE BRIDES OF DRACULA), Michael Bates (Kubrick's A CLOCKWORK ORANGE), Peter Sallis (TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA), etc, etc. And strangely enough, notice how many actors in the Orson Welles production of RHINOCEROS also appeared in DRACULA movies! They include Lord Olivier (Van Helsing), Michael Gough (Arthur Holmwood), Miles Malleson, Peter Sallis and of course, Welles himself in his own famous Mercury Theater on the air radio production. Plus, Christopher Lee, who Welles directed in MOBY DICK, had a flat on Cadogan Square, only a few minutes away from The Royal Court Theater (as did Boris Karloff, who lived next door to Christopher Lee on Cadogan Square, and would soon play a vampire for the first time in Mario Bava's BLACK SABBATH!)