Brush With Fame: Judy Williams and Orson Welles

A photo of Orson Welles
Judy Williams, at age 26, instructs Orson Welles on his performance. Let that soak in for a minute.

Even as we enter the final stages of preparing for our third live event, “Under the Influence,” Sara and I are beginning to dabble with ideas for our fourth event (I know, it’s awful, we can’t help ourselves!). That event, “Brush with Fame,” will likely take place in early 2015. The seed that grew into the idea for “Brush with Fame” was the conversation that makes up this special episode of the All Y’all podcast, in which Shreveport-based PR and marketing expert Judy Williams (president of Williams Creative Group) shares her story of working, at age 26, with legendary filmmaker, actor, playwright and multimedia prankster Orson Welles (writer/director of Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil, among other staggering cinematic works of genius, and creator of the notorious 1938 radio broadcast of War of the Worlds).

At age 26, I was drinking White Russians in the morning, playing Dr. Mario with my stoner roommates and rapping in a pirate-themed hip-hop group called the Pillage People. Judy was writing dialogue for Orson Welles. And not just any dialogue. Dialogue that would lead Orson freaking Welles to raise his hand, bringing the production to a screeching halt, to call out in his judge’s baritone: “Who wrote this dialogue? It’s great!”

Judy met Orson Welles at a time in his life when his career was, unarguably, at a low point. He was starring in television commercials for frozen peas and drug store wine. But one of the things that I love about this story is that, as Judy tells it, Welles saw a return to brilliance in his future. He was planning a comeback. He had not accepted defeat. And I think that’s what makes a great person great: they’re always planning the comeback, even when they’re starring in the frozen peas commercial.

Sara wants to apologize in advance for the quality of the audio in this recording. It was before we understood our recording setup and you can obviously hear the air conditioner kick on in the background.

One comment