Actor Joseph Cotten

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on February 20, 2005

Please tell us all you know about Joseph Cotten.
— Letha H., New Mexico

The star of films such as Citizen Kane, Shadow of a Doubt and Portrait of Jennie was born in Petersburg, Va. (pop. 33,740), in 1905. In his 1987 autobiography, Vanity Will Get You Somewhere, he recalls a childhood filled with dramatic stories from his grandmother and uncle that fascinated him. After acting out one of those stories, Cotten realized that he had found his calling. He went to the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, D.C., to study acting at age 18. By age 25 he was appearing on Broadway, and in 1937, joined Orson Welles' Mercury Theater, and went on to great success in film during the 1950s. "Orson Welles lists Citizen Cane as his best film, Alfred Hitchcock opts for Shadow of a Doubt and Sir Carol Reed chose The Third Man—and I'm in all of them," Cotten once said. After the death of his first wife, Lenore, he married actress Patricia Medina in 1960. During the 1960s, he hosted the TV series Hollywood and the Stars. Cotten, who retired from acting in the early 1980s after a stroke and laryngectomy, died in 1994 at age 88.