After living an intensely private life, why did I decide to come out of hiding and write about my famous father, Orson Welles? Because there are so many books out there about him, but none of them capture the Orson Welles I knew from my earliest childhood until the day he died in 1985. In fact, there are enough biographies and critical studies of his works to fill a bookcase, but most were written by people who did not get any closer to him than a long-distance phone call. So I felt the time had come to offer up an intimate, candid portrait of Orson Welles from my unique perspective as his daughter.
I wanted to give Orson Welles a human face, but I also wanted to bring to life a number of people who were important in his life but are barely mentioned in his vast bibliography. For instance, the most you will learn there about my mother, the first Mrs. Orson Welles, is that she was “a Chicago socialite” (which, in fact, she wasn’t). In addition, Hortense and Roger Hill, who stood in for his parents after he was orphaned as a child, get no more than a passing reference. And how much do you find out about Oja Kodar, the woman he loved above all others and who was his companion for the last twenty-odd years of his life? By the end of my book, you will know Oja, my mother, and the Hills almost as well as I do.
So I hope that In My Father’s Shadow will give you a more far accurate picture of the extraordinary man who was my father, and of the uncommon journey we made together as father and daughter, with all its ups and downs, heartache and joy.
Chris Welles Feder has spent a great part of her life working in the field of education and is known to many as a writer for the children’s educational series Brain Quest. She lives with her husband in New York City.