Joseph Cheshire Cotten was born on May 15 th 1905 to a wealthy family in Virginia. One of three children, Joseph and his siblings spend many summers at Virginia Beach with their aunt and uncle, and it was here that Joseph developed a fondness for performing arts. This took him to later study at the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, and he then went to seek his fortune in New York.
Success was not as easy as he had thought, and instead of becoming an overnight star Joseph found himself unable to get stage work and ended up taking on a range of jobs such as a shipping clerk. After a year, he went to Miami with friends and decided to re-evaluate his life. Here, he took on various jobs from lifeguard to selling potato salad.
Eventually, he managed to get some parts in plays at the Miami Civic Theatre, and then landed a job as assistant stage manager in New York. 1929 saw him being hired for some acting roles at the Copley Theatre, Boston, and finally, in 1930 he made his Broadway debut. He also took on some radio shows in the 1930s, which is where he met someone that would become a very close friend – Orson Welles.When Welles opened his own production company, Joseph got his break in movies, and he went on to appear in movies such as ‘Citizen Kane’, and ‘The Third Man’, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Shadow of a Doubt’, ‘Gaslight’, and many other movies, often opposite high profile actresses such as Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. Cotton passed away on 6 th February 1994 from pneumonia in California.
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