Orson Welles: Todd School for Boys

Orson Welles attended Todd School for Boys in Woodstock Illinois from 1926 to 1931.

Welles is pictured here in the top left below a window of Grace Hall, the 1915 Prairie Style building where the actor and director lived as a student. He studied film and radio in the basement studio.

As a student, Welles collaborated with Headmaster Roger Hill to write the “Everybody’s Shakespeare” series of plays that provided a simple adaptation for high school student’s Shakespeare productions. Between 1932 and 1942 over 100,000 copies of these plays were sold

An active member of the Todd Troupers theatrical group, Welles often returned to Todd after graduation to assist with theatrical productions while studying at the Chicago Art Institute.

Welles made his little-known first film at the school when he was 19. “The Hearts of Age” is an eight-minute silent short, which he co-directed with William Vance in 1934. The film stars Welles’ first wife, Virginia Nicolson, as well as Welles himself.

You can now view it on YouTube. The plot about old age and mortality is a series of cryptic expressionistic images connected with rapid-fire editing, arguably influenced by surrealism and the work of Jean Cocteau.

Welles plays Death.

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