Tributes to ORSON WELLES in Split, Croatia and Jerez, Spain (planned)
We all know Orson Welles never won as Oscar as best director, but let's face it, given all the great directors who haven't won Oscars, it's really more of a honor to be on the long list of Oscar losers than among those who have actually won. Besides Welles, the list includes Hitchcock, Hawks, Kubrick, Lang, Penn, Ray, Sirk, Preminger, Altman etc., etc.
However, what is far more shocking to me is how Welles is still so unhonored in America, compared to all the tributes that have been heaped on him in Europe. In Kenosha, Wisconsin you might think they would have the sense to erect a statue to an American Master, but apparently nobody living there cares about such trivial things.
Thankfully, our European friends are much friendlier to the memory of Welles and his accomplishments. Quite by chance, when I was in Jerez, Spain, in 2006, Jose Luis Jimenez, the President of the Cine-Club Popular de Jerez was campaigning to have a street in Jerez named after Welles. Now I may be wrong, but I don't think any city in America has ever proposed that a street be named after Orson Welles. And although there is a statue of George M. Cohan in Times Square, I don't know of any Orson Welles statues that have been erected in New York, or anywhere else in America. I bring this up, simply to point out the great contrast between the honors and efforts European countries seem to bestow on Welles, compared to the country of his birth.
Here is a link to an article on the recently unveiled statue of Orson Welles in Split, Croatia, followed by information on the plans to name a street for Welles in Jerez, Spain.
Orson Welles publicly and through his work always expressed his affection for city of Jerez. Welles visits were frequent to Jerez to attend its fairs and bullfights and he was often a guest of the Domecq family, makers of Sherry wine.
On April 28, 1961, on the occasion of completing filming of The bodegas of Jerez (Le cantina di Jerez), a chapter for his documentary series In the Land of Don Quixote, being made for Italian Television (RAI), the Marquis de Torresoto honored Welles by bestowing on him the title of fourth member of the order of Tio Pepe. At the same time, Welles signed his name to a cask of sherry wine in Gonzalez byass. A few year later, Welles returned to Spain to film his masterpiece, Chimes At Midnight, based on four historical plays by William Shakespeare, in which Welles played the role of Falstaff. In the movie, Welles reproduced the famous Shakespearian speech where Falstaff praises Sherry wine.
In 1975, the house of Domecq hired Welles to conduct an advertising campaign to promote their wines to American markets. This had an enormous impact and led to Welles being signed to promote the more widely known (in America) Paul Masson label of wines for American TV.
In a documentary about Welles life and work, Welles expressed his appreciation for the Sherry wines of Jerez, as being "the best in the world."
After he died, Welles ashes were buried in a well on the farm of his longtime friend, the great Spanish bullfighter, Antonio Ordonez, outside of Ronda, a city that has named a street close to the famed bullring of Ronda, The Paseo de Orson Welles.
That Welles wished to be buried in Ronda, has demonstrated once again the special relationship between Orson Welles and Andalusia, which we hope will also materialize in Jerez through the dedicating of a public road in his memory.
The style of In the Land of Don Quixote will be very personal—it will be more a kind of conversation than the usual conventional television documentary. Often I will be seen on the screen and from time to time my wife and my daughter Beatrice, too. My intention is to deal with Spain in a profound way, and my wish is to show the Italian television spectators some of the treasures and fascinating paradoxes of this country. But neither as a catalogue of figures and facts nor as a photographic almanac of famous monuments. I want to show the typical faces of Spain, its places, sounds and voice, without any superficial narration.
—Orson Welles, 1961
From a Jerez tourist pamphlet:
Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.
—Orson Welles, circa 1961
No visit to Andalusia would be complete without a stop at a bodega (cantina) to sample Jerez’s “liquid gold.” Orson Welles was a close friend of the Domecq family and a great fan of their sherry, to the extent that he agreed to promote their products in a series of TV commercials in the 1970s. It was a negative career move for which he was panned by the press.