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Wednesday 5 August 2020
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THE ORSON WELLES DIARIES VI

THE ORSON WELLES DIARIES VI

September 12th, 1974

Larry Jackson has approached me to narrate a documentary about Bugs Bunny which will be a welcome distraction from the spirit-crushing process of editing The Other Side of the Wind. I’ve never worked with Bugs but back in 1947 during a particular grisly absinthe session he unexpectedly turned up to my house in the wee small hours and we stayed up all night sharing stories and making merry. One particular tale I recall him telling was his failed audition for the film adaptation of Mary Chase’s delightful play Harvey. He’d prepared for the role for months and had spent time with some ancient monks in Tibet were he had managed to acquire the ability to turn himself invisible but despite his efforts, he was roundly rejected because Chase was insistent Harvey had to be exactly 6ft 3.5in tall and Bugs was a mere 6ft. It’s something of a mystery who ended up playing the role but according to legend, Gregory Peck ordered an usually large amount of carrots during the period the movie was being shot.

I had a rich rabbit stew for dinner followed by a superior slice of carrot cake.

December 8th, 1974

My doctor has insisted I cut down on the scotch so I’ve made the bold decision to return to the bosom of heroin. I first became acquainted with the milk of the poppy back in 1947 when that Tasmanian devil, Errol Flynn offered me a pipe at the Academy awards after party. Flynn had acquired the opiate from James Cagney who, at the time, ran the Hollywood drug dealing racket with an iron fist and was embroiled in a vicious turf war with Humphrey Bogart who was importing cheaper, more potent narcotics via a connection in Casablanca. Anyway, I spent around two months on ‘the horse’ but one day I woke up to find myself stripped to the waist and lying in a pool of my own filth on a damp, sodden mattress above a butchers shop in Harlem. After locating a pay phone my unsympathetic wife kindly informed me that I had sold all of my worldly possessions, I was bankrupt and she was filing for divorce but on a lighter note, Republic Pictures had agreed to finance my cinematic version of Macbeth. I swear to this day if it wasn’t for the fact that my underwear had been soiled so savagely during my glorious drug binge, I would have danced a merry jig on the spot.

I had heroin for lunch followed by more heroin.

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