Today was the birthday in 1915 of Orson Welles.

There was no one quite like Welles: he was the creative force behind the legendary movie Citizen Kane, not to mention historic works in radio and on stage as well.

And yet somehow one of his most viewed works is also a set of apparently drunken outtakes from a wine commercial in the 80s!

Welles was often on the outs with the bosses of the big studios, which meant that to make the movies he wanted the WAY he wanted, he had to find the money himself.

So he would take acting parts in movies you’d never expect to see Orson Welles in, like his role in “Transformers: The Movie.”

He once described his character this way: “I play a planet. I menace somebody called Something-or-other. Then I’m destroyed.”

Welles also did commercials, including an often-parodied ad for frozen peas and a series of commercials for Paul Masson wine.

According to producer and assistant director Peter Shillingford, on one of these shoots Welles came up before filming and said, “I’m in trouble.”

He claimed he’d been up all night filming so he’d taken a sleeping pill to rest… and that it was only just starting to kick in then.

Whether that was the real story or not, Shillingford knew it was going to be a hopeless day on set.

But they had to at least try to record something, so their insurance would cover any money they lost on the day’s work.

Shillingford got Welles onto the set, the director called “action, please” and one of the most iconic personalities in movie history started slurring his way through three takes of a wine commercial.

People online have made a meme out of one of his lines, “ahhh, the French… champagne.”

Shillingford and his colleagues eventually had to find a spot for Welles to rest for a few hours, the ad agency people reportedly grumbling the whole time.

But, a few hours later, Welles was feeling like himself again, and they finished the whole shoot in two hours.

It was the kind of work you’d raise a toast to… under different circumstances, anyway.

Today in 1931, the birthday of Willie Mays, one of baseball’s all time great hitters.

He was so good, in fact, that legendary baseball scout Branch Rickey had no advice for his team on how to pitch to the star.

The scouting report read, “The fellow is simply a good hitter.”


MAYS, WILLIE (N.Y. Outfielder) (Library of Congress)

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