Vitameatavegamin Director Ross Elliott: Was He Also A Cast Member In Orson Welles Famous War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast of 1938?
Ross Elliott passed away in 1999, and most obituaries say that he was a cast member of that famous broadcast. But on the most definitive cast list I could find on the internet, he's not mentioned. So maybe he was an extra. Excerpts from his obituary in The Independent:
THE VETERAN character actor Ross Elliott had the sort of solid, reliable looks that made him ideal for playing functionaries such as bank managers, officers or town sheriffs, but in a career that spanned radio (as a member of Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre Players he had a part in the notorious War of the Worlds broadcast), theatre, films and television, he proved himself equally adept in drama, comedy or westerns. ...
Born in New York City in 1917, Elliott grew up in the Bronx. "I went through the New York City school system and went to summer camp," he recalled. "I was lucky in that regard." He started doing one-act plays in camp, then went on to City College of New York where he graduated in 1937. "I worked in some variety shows and then summer stock. Stock companies would put on a different play each week, so the actor received very thorough training - one week you may be the lead, next week a small role."
Elliott then joined the Mercury Theatre, and was cast in their inaugural stage production, a landmark modern-dress, 90-minute version of Julius Caesar (1937) set in a totalitarian fascist state and directed by Welles, who also played Brutus. Though he had a minor role, Elliott stated that he never forgot the experience of the powerful mob scenes, especially the murder of the poet Cinna (Norman Lloyd), described by the critic Granville Vernon as "a scene which for power and sinister meaning has never been surpassed in the American theatre".
Two days after Welles had caused radio listeners to believe Earth was being invaded by aliens during his broadcast of War of the Worlds, Elliott opened on Broadway in Mercury's production of Danton's Death (1938), which lasted for only 21 performances, and he later toured in Welles's Five Kings (an amalgam of five Shakespeare plays) which never reached Broadway. "I remember only chaos - it was a huge production performed on a revolving stage, and in Philadelphia they didn't have the electricity to operate it so it had to be turned by hand and we actors were left stranded at the end of scenes waiting for the stage to reach the right point."
Kinda interesting to think one actor took part in both one of the most famous radio broadcasts of all time and one of the most famous TV broadcasts of all time.