PARIS – According to a new book published in Paris today by noted film critic Xavier Poulis, film director and bon vivant Orson Welles was ‘not actually fat’.
The film critic and Welles expert said that everyone believes Orson Welles gained a lot of weight in his later years, but in reality he always maintained a perfectly respectable 170 pounds. Poulis writes in his introduction:
The legend of Orson Welles’ obesity came about during the filming of Citizen Kane, his first and perhaps most famous film. Welles loved playing the older Charles Foster Kane and made it his habit to go to the commissary dressed in costume and full make up, including the extra padding to make him look portly. It was hilarious and throughout the years Welles continued the practice. He played a large number of fat men and so there was always the opportunity to play tricks on the press. While filming both Chimes at Midnight and Touch of Evil, Welles got so into the habit of going out to restaurants in costume that on the few occasions he went out as himself nobody recognized him and he dreaded not being recognized.
Studio Exec contributor and Welles confidant, Sir Edwin Fluffer confirmed the truth:
Orson did enjoy eating, but he had such a zippy metabolism that no sooner had he wolfed down one five courser than he was all set for the next and never looked the worse for it. The fat suit was just a jape but it also protected him from some of the bitchier elements of this old town we love so. If some of the actors who had seen him with the feed bag on had also seen the slender Welles who I played tennis with on Wednesday they would have cut him dead out of pure jealousy and spite. Towards the end of life poor Twiggy – as his closest friends called him – felt he was possessed by the fat suit that now he had to wear almost twelve hours out of every twenty four. It is a sorrowful irony that the poor man died in the fat suit and not knowing any better the funeral people buried him in it as well.
Orson Welles: The Man, The Artist, The Waistline by Xavier Poulis is available on Amazon and from all good bookstores.