Actor Joseph Cotten

Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr. (May 15, 1905 – February 6, 1994) was an American film, stage, radio and television actor. Cotten achieved prominence on Broadway, starring in the original stage productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair.

He first gained worldwide fame in three Orson Welles films: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Journey into Fear (1943), for which Cotten was also credited with the screenplay. He went on to become one of the leading Hollywood actors of the 1940s, appearing in films such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Gaslight (1944), Love Letters (1945), Duel in the Sun (1946), Portrait of Jennie (1948), The Third Man (1949) and Niagara (1953). One of his final films was Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate (1980).

Early life

Joseph Cotten was born in 1905 in Petersburg, Virginia, the first of three boys born for Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster, and Sally Willson Cotten.:224 He grew up in the Tidewater region and showed an aptitude for drama and a gift for storytelling.

In 1923, when Cotten was 18, his family arranged for him to receive private lessons at the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, D.C., and underwrote his expenses.


Cotten earned spending money playing professional football on Sundays, for $25 a quarter. After graduation, he earned enough money as a lifeguard at Wilcox Lake to pay back his family’s loan, with interest.:4–7

He moved to Miami in 1925 and worked as an advertising salesman for The Miami Herald at $35 a week. He started performing at the Miami Civic Theatre, and worked there for five years, also reviewing the shows for the Herald.


Cotten moved to New York and went to work for David Belasco as an assistant stage manager. He understudied Melvyn Douglas in Tonight or Never then took over Douglas’ role for the Copley Theatre in Boston, where he worked on over 30 plays.

Cotten struggled to find work in the depression so turned to modeling and acting in industrial films. He also performed on radio. Cotten made his Broadway debut in 1932 in Absent Friends which ran for 88 performances.

He followed it with Jezebel (1933), staged by Katherine Cornell and Guthrie McClintic, which only had a short run.

He was in Loose Moments which ran for 8 performances.

Orson Welles

In 1934, Cotten met and became friends with Orson Welles, a fellow cast member on CBS Radio’s The American School of the Air.:30–31 Welles regarded Cotten as a brilliant comic actor,:166 and gave him the starring role in his Federal Theatre Project farce, Horse Eats Hat:34 (September 26 – December 5, 1936).:334 Cotten was sure that Horse Eats Hat won him the notice of his future Broadway co-star, Katharine Hepburn.:34

Cotten said Welles later told him “You’re very lucky to be tall and thin and have curly hair. You can also move about the stage without running into the furniture. But these are fringe assets, and I’m afraid you’ll never make it as an actor. But as a star, I think you well might hit the jackpot.”

In 1937, Cotten became an inaugural member of Welles’s Mercury Theatre company, starring in its Broadway productions Caesar as Publius; it ran for 157 performances.

He followed it with The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1938) and Danton’s Death (1938) for Welles. Cotten also performed in radio dramas presented on The Mercury Theatre on the Air and The Campbell Playhouse.

Cotten made his film debut in the Welles-directed short, Too Much Johnson, a comedy that was intended to complement the aborted 1938 Mercury stage production of William Gillette’s 1894 play. The film was never screened in public and was lost until 2013.

The Philadelphia Story

Cotten returned to Broadway in 1939, creating the role of C. K. Dexter Haven opposite Katharine Hepburn’s Tracy Lord in the original production of Philip Barry’s The Philadelphia Story. The play ran for 417 performances at the Shubert Theatre, and in the months before its extensive national tour a film version was to be made by MGM. Cotten went to Hollywood, but discovered there that his stage success in The Philadelphia Story translated to, in the words of his agent Leland Hayward, “spending a solid year creating the Cary Grant role.” Hayward suggested that they call Cotten’s good pal, Orson Welles. “He’s been making big waves out here”, Hayward said. “Maybe nobody in Hollywood ever heard of the Shubert Theatre in New York, but everybody certainly knows about the Mercury Theatre in New York.”:34–37

Citizen Kane

After the success of Welles’s War of the Worlds 1938 Halloween radio broadcast, Welles gained a unique contract with RKO Pictures. The two-picture deal promised full creative control for the young director below an agreed budget limit, and Welles’s intention was to feature the Mercury Players in his productions. Shooting had still not begun on a Welles film after a year, but after a meeting with writer Herman J. Mankiewicz Welles had a suitable project.

In mid-1940, filming began on Citizen Kane, portraying the life of a press magnate (played by Welles) who starts out as an idealist but eventually turns into a corrupt, lonely old man. The film featured Cotten prominently in the role of Kane’s best friend Jedediah Leland, eventually a drama critic for one of Kane’s papers.

When released on May 1, 1941, Citizen Kane – based in part on the life of William Randolph Hearst – did not do much business at theaters; Hearst owned numerous major newspapers, and forbade them to carry advertisements for the film. Nominated for nine Academy Awards in 1942, the film won only for Best Screenplay, for Mankiewicz and Welles. Citizen Kane launched the film careers of the Mercury Players, including Agnes Moorehead (who played Kane’s mother), Ruth Warrick (Kane’s first wife), and Ray Collins (Kane’s political opponent). However, Cotten was the only one of the four to find major success as a lead in Hollywood outside of Citizen Kane; Moorehead and Collins became successful character film actors and Warrick spent decades in a career in daytime television.

Alexander Korda then hired Cotten to play Merle Oberon’s leading man in Lydia (1941). “I didn’t care about the movies, really”, Cotten said later. “I was tall. I had curly hair. I could talk. It was easy to do.”

The Magnificent Ambersons and Journey Into Fear

Cotten starred in Welles’s adaptation and production of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). After the commercial disappointment of Citizen Kane, RKO was apprehensive about the new film, and after poor preview responses, cut it by nearly an hour before its release. Though at points the film appeared disjointed, it was well received by critics. Despite the critical accolades Cotten received for his performance, he was again snubbed by the Academy.

Cotten was cast in the Nazi-related thriller Journey into Fear (1943) based on the novel by Eric Ambler. It was originally scripted by Ben Hecht but Welles, who was supervising, disliked it, and he rewrote it with Cotten. Released by RKO, the Mercury production was directed by Norman Foster. It was a collaborative effort due to the difficulties shooting the film and the pressures related to Welles’s imminent departure to South America to begin work on It’s All True.:165, 377

Alfred Hitchcock hired Cotten to play a charming serial killer in Shadow of a Doubt (1943). It was made for Universal Pictures, for whom Cotten then appeared in Hers to Hold (1943), as Deanna Durbin’s leading man.

After Welles’s return he and Cotten co-produced The Mercury Wonder Show for members of the U.S. armed services. Opening August 3, 1943, the all-star magic and variety show was presented in a tent at 9000 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. Featured were Welles (Orson the Magnificent), Cotten (Jo-Jo the Great), Rita Hayworth (forced to quit by Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn and replaced by Marlene Dietrich), Agnes Moorehead (Calliope Aggie) and others. Tickets were free to servicemen, and more than 48,000 of them had seen show by September 1943.:177, 377–378

David O. Selznick

In late 1943, Cotten visited Welles’s office and said that producer David O. Selznick wanted to make two or three films with him, but that he wanted him under his own contract. Welles then tore up Cotten’s contract with Mercury Productions, saying, “He can do more for you than I can. Good luck!”:186 Cotten signed a long-term deal with Selznick.

Selznick loaned out Cotten and Ingrid Bergman to MGM for the thriller Gaslight (1944) which was a major hit. Selznick then put Cotten in a wartime drama Since You Went Away (1944) alongside Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple; it was another major success.

Selznick followed this up by teaming Cotten with Ginger Rogers and Temple in I’ll Be Seeing You (1945), another melodrama. Hal Wallis borrowed Cotten and Jones to make Love Letters (1945). Exhibitors voted him the 17th most popular star in the United States in 1945.

Selznick used Cotten, Jennifer Jones and Gregory Peck in Duel in the Sun (1946), an epic Western that was hugely popular at the box office.

Dore Schary, who had worked for Selznick, went to run RKO and hired Cotten for The Farmer’s Daughter (1947), where he was Loretta Young’s leading man. Cotten then made Portrait of Jennie (1948) for Selznick, co starring with Jones; Cotten played a melancholy artist who becomes obsessed with a girl who might have died many years before. His performance won Cotten the International Prize for Best Actor at the 1949 Venice International Film Festival.

The Third Man

Cotten was reunited with Welles in The Third Man (1949), produced by Korda and Selznick. Cotten portrays a writer of pulp fiction who travels to postwar Vienna to meet his friend Harry Lime (Welles). When he arrives, he is told that Lime has died. Determined to prove to the police that his friend was murdered, he uncovers an even darker secret.

Cotten then reunited with Hitchcock and Ingrid Bergman in Under Capricorn (1949) as an Australian landowner with a shady past; it was a box office disappointment. So too was Beyond the Forest (1949) with Bette Davis at Warner Bros.

Cotten co-starred with Joan Fontaine in September Affair (1950) for Hal Wallis. Selznick loaned him to 20th Century Fox for the dark Civil War Western Two Flags West (1950), then to RKO for Walk Softly, Stranger (1950, shot in 1948) which reunited him with Alida Valli from The Third Man. It was a huge flop.

At Fox he did Half Angel (1951) with Young, then did another with Wallis at Paramount, Peking Express (1951) and went to MGM for The Man with a Cloak (1951) with Barbara Stanwyck. He had a cameo in Welles’ Othello (1951).

Cotten did a Western at Universal, Untamed Frontier (1953), during the filming of which he was injured. He did a thriller for Andrew L. Stone, The Steel Trap (1952), which reunited with Teresa Wright from Shadow of a Doubt.

At Fox he was in the Marilyn Monroe vehicle Niagara (1953), after James Mason turned down the role. He narrated Egypt by Three (1953) and was reunited with Stone in A Blueprint for Murder (1953).

Sabrina Fair and television

On the stage in 1953, Cotten created the role of Linus Larrabee, Jr., in the original Broadway production of Sabrina Fair, opposite Margaret Sullavan. The production ran November 11, 1953 – August 21, 1954, and was the basis of the Billy Wilder film Sabrina, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. He and Sullivan did a TV production of State of the Union for Producers’ Showcase directed by Arthur Penn.

Cotten made Special Delivery (1955) in West Germany, did a TV adaptation of Broadway for The Best of Broadway (1955) directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. He appeared in episodes of Celebrity Playhouse, The Ford Television Theatre, Star Stage, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (several times) and General Electric Theater.

In 1955 Cotten hosted The 20th Century Fox Hour on television.

In 1956, Cotten starred in the NBC anthology series On Trial (renamed at mid-season The Joseph Cotten Show). It ran for 41 episodes.

He returned to features with The Bottom of the Bottle (1956), The Killer Is Loose (1957) and The Halliday Brand (1957).

He guest starred on Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, Telephone Time, Playhouse 90, Schlitz Playhouse, Zane Grey Theater, Suspicion, and Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. He made a cameo appearance in Welles’sTouch of Evil (1958) and a starring role in the film adaptation of Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon (also 1958).

Cotten had another success on Broadway when he appeared in Once More, With Feeling (1958–60) which ran for 263 performances. For the third time Cotten was in a Broadway hit but did not reprise his role in the film version – Yul Brynner did.


In 1960, Cotten married British actress Patricia Medina after his first wife, Lenore Kipp, died of leukemia earlier in the year.

Cotten had a supporting role in the films The Angel Wore Red (1960) and The Last Sunset (1961), the latter directed by Robert Aldrich, and guest starred on The DuPont Show with June Allyson, Checkmate, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Bus Stop, Theatre ’62 (an adaptation of Notorious), Dr. Kildare, Wagon Train, and Saints and Sinners.

Cotten returned to Broadway to appear in Calculated Risk (1962–63), which ran for 221 performances and meant he had to turn down a role in a film Harrigan’s Halo. He guest starred on The Great Adventure, and 77 Sunset Strip, and did the pilot Alexander the Great (1963).

After some time away from film, Cotten returned in the horror classic Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) for Aldrich, with Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland and Agnes Moorehead.

Final leading man roles

Cotten was top billed in The Great Sioux Massacre (1965) and The Tramplers (1965), but back to support parts for The Money Trap (1965) and The Oscar (1966). He was top billed in Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1966), directed by Foster, The Cruel Ones (1967), Some May Live (1967) and Gangsters ’70 (1968).

He guest starred on Cimarron Strip, Ironside, and Journey to the Unknown and had a support role in Jack of Diamonds (1967). He had the lead in White Comanche (1968) and Latitude Zero (1969) (shot in Japan with his wife) and supported in the TV movies The Lonely Profession (1969), Cutter’s Trail (1970).


Cotten was in The Name of the Game, It Takes a Thief, NET Playhouse, The Grasshopper (1970), Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Virginian, Assault on the Wayne (1971), Do You Take This Stranger? (1971), City Beneath the Sea (1971), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Lady Frankenstein (1971), and The Screaming Woman (1972) with de Havilland.

He had lead roles in Doomsday Voyage (1972), Baron Blood (1972), and The Scopone Game (1973) and was in The Devil’s Daughter (1973), The Streets of San Francisco, Soylent Green (1973), A Delicate Balance (1973), The Rockford Files, Syndicate Sadists (1975), The Timber Tramps (1975), The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976), A Whisper in the Dark (1976), Origins of the Mafia (1976), Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977) for Aldrich, Airport ’77, Aspen (1977), The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Last In, First Out (1978), Caravans (1978), Indagine su un delitto perfetto (1978), Screamers (1979), Concorde Affaire ’79 (1979), Guyana: Cult of the Damned (1979), Churchill and the Generals (1979), Tales of the Unexpected and Fantasy Island.

“I was in a lot of junk”, he admitted later. “I get nervous when I don’t work.”

Final roles

Cotten’s final performances included The Hearse (1980), Casino (1980), Heaven’s Gate (1980), The Love Boat (1981), The Survivor (1981), shot in Australia, and Delusion (1981). Cotten suffered a stroke in 1981 which caused him to temporarily lose his voice.

Personal life

Joseph Cotten married Patricia Medina on October 20, 1960, in Beverly Hills at the home of David O. Selznick and Jennifer Jones. He and Patricia bought a historic 1935 home in the Mesa neighborhood of Palm Springs, California, where they lived from 1985 to 1992. There were no children of the marriage.

In 1961 Cotten was admitted to membership in the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of North Carolina based on a collateral descent from Captain Hudson Whitaker, Seventh Regiment, North Carolina Continental Line. He held Captain Whitaker’s hereditary seat until his death in 1994.

Illness and death

On June 8, 1981, Cotten experienced a heart attack followed by a stroke that affected his brain’s speech center. He began years of therapy which in time made it possible for him to speak again. As he began to recover, he and Orson Welles talked on the phone each week for a couple of hours. “He was strong and supportive”, Cotten wrote, “and whenever I used the wrong word (which was frequently) he would say, ‘That’s a much better word, Jo, I’m going to use it.'” He and Welles would meet for lunch and reminisce. When Cotten announced he had written a book, Welles asked for the manuscript and read it that night.:215–217

In a phone conversation on October 9, 1985, Welles told his friend and mentor Roger Hill that Cotten had written a book, and Hill asked how it read. “Gentle, witty, and self-effacing, just like Jo”, Welles replied. “My only complaint is that it’s too brief.” Welles died the following day. “Somewhere among his possessions is a manuscript of this book”, Cotten wrote on the last page of his autobiography, published in 1987 under the title Vanity Will Get You Somewhere.:217

In 1990, Cotten’s larynx was removed due to cancer. He died on February 6, 1994, of pneumonia, at the age of 88. He was buried at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.


At the 10th Venice International Film Festival, Cotten was given the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his performance in the film Portrait of Jennie (1948). He was also given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.

Cultural references

Cotten was portrayed by Tim Robbins in the 1985 TV film Malice in Wonderland, James Tupper in the film Me and Orson Welles (2008) and by Matthew Glave in the television series Feud (2017), which depicts the filming of Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Theatre credits

Date Title Role Notes
October 17, 1932 – January 1933 Absent Father Larry Vanderbilt Theatre, New York
December 19, 1933 – January 1934 Jezebel Dick Ashley Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York
February 4 – 1934 Loose Moments Ralph Merkes Vanderbilt Theatre, New York
September 26 – December 5, 1936 Horse Eats Hat Freddy Maxine Elliott Theatre, New York:334
January 8 – April 1, 1937 Faustus 2nd Scholar Maxine Elliott Theatre, New York:335–336
April 21–23, 1937 The Second Hurricane Airplane pilot:33 Henry Street Settlement, New York City:337
November 11, 1937 – May 28, 1938 Caesar Publius Mercury Theatre, New York:339–340
Moved to the larger National Theatre January 24, 1938:341
December 25, 1937 The Shoemaker’s Holiday Rowland Lacy Mercury Theatre, New York
Surprise preview performance immediately following Caesar:332
January 1 – April 28, 1938 The Shoemaker’s Holiday Rowland Lacy Mercury Theatre, New York
Moved to the National Theatre January 26, 1938:341
August 16–29, 1938 Too Much Johnson Augustus Billings Stony Creek Theatre, Stony Creek, Connecticut:50–51, 152–153
November 2–19, 1938 Danton’s Death Barrere Mercury Theatre, New York
March 28, 1939 – March 30, 1940 The Philadelphia Story C. K. Dexter Haven Shubert Theatre, New York
November 11, 1953 – August 21, 1954 Sabrina Fair Linus Larrabee, Jr. National Theatre, New York
Moved to the Royale Theatre May 17, 1954
October 21, 1958 – June 6, 1959 Once More With Feeling Victor Fabian National Theatre, New York

Radio credits

Date Title Role Notes
1934 The American School of the Air Repertory cast :331
July 14 – September 22, 1935 America’s Hour Repertory cast :30
1935 Farm Tenancy Resettlement Administration drama
November 14, 1936 Columbia Workshop “Hamlet”
May 9, 1937 The Second Hurricane Airplane pilot One-hour broadcast on CBS Radio:34
September 5, 1938 The Mercury Theatre on the Air Dr. Bull “The Man Who Was Thursday”:345:50
October 9, 1938 The Mercury Theatre on the Air “Hell on Ice”:346
October 16, 1938 The Mercury Theatre on the Air Genesis “Seventeen”:346:52
December 3, 1938 The Campbell Playhouse Fred “A Christmas Carol”:348:53
January 6, 1939 The Campbell Playhouse “Counsellor-at-Law”:348
January 13, 1939 The Campbell Playhouse Fletcher Christian “Mutiny on the Bounty”:349
January 20, 1939 The Campbell Playhouse “The Chicken Wagon Family”:349
January 27, 1939 The Campbell Playhouse Riley “I Lost My Girlish Laughter”:53
September 17, 1939 The Campbell Playhouse “Ah, Wilderness!”:354
October 22, 1939 The Campbell Playhouse The Cashier “Liliom”:58
1939–40 The Career of Alice Blair Male lead :138–139
February 11, 1940 The Campbell Playhouse “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town”:61
September 22, 1941 Lux Radio Theatre Michael Fitzpatrick “Lydia”
October 6, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :367
October 13, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :367
October 20, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :367
November 10, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :367
December 1, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :368
December 7, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :368
December 22, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :368
December 29, 1941 The Orson Welles Show :368
March 22, 1942 The Silver Theatre Jim Emerson “Only Yesterday”
November 23, 1942 Ceiling Unlimited “The Navigator”:375
December 21, 1942 Ceiling Unlimited “Gremlins”:374
December 28, 1942 Ceiling Unlimited “Pan American Airlines”
January 17, 1943 Hello Americans “Feed the World”:376
February 1, 1943 Cavalcade of America “To the Shores of Tripoli”
May 24, 1943 The Screen Guild Theater Uncle Charlie “Shadow of a Doubt”
June 28, 1943 Lux Radio Theatre “The Great Man’s Lady”
August 8, 1943 – April 30, 1944 America – Ceiling Unlimited Host Weekly half-hour variety series
December 6, 1943 The Screen Guild Theater Jim Emerson “Only Yesterday”
March 23, 1944 Suspense “Sneak Preview”
May 8, 1944 Lux Radio Theatre Roger Adams “Penny Serenade”
June 5, 1944 Cavalcade of America “Treason”
September 14, 1944 Suspense “You’ll Never See Me Again”
November 6, 1944 Democratic National Committee Program Election-eve political broadcast
November 13, 1944 The Screen Guild Theater Johnny Case “Holiday”
November 26, 1944 The Harold Lloyd Comedy Theatre “Clarence”
February 1, 1945 Suspense “The Most Dangerous Game”
February 6, 1945 A Date with Judy Guest “The Strange Case of Joseph Cotten”
April 30, 1945 The Screen Guild Theater Alessandro “Ramona”
June 4, 1945 Lux Radio Theatre Holger Brandt “Intermezzo”
June 15, 1945 Weapon for Tomorrow “Freedom of Information”
September 18, 1945 Theater of Romance Nathan Hale “One Life to Lose”
September 20, 1945 The Birdseye Open House Guest
September 27, 1945 Suspense “The Earth Is Made of Glass”
October 11, 1945 Suspense “Beyond Good and Evil”
November 26, 1945 The Screen Guild Theater Richard Kurt “Biography of a Bachelor Girl”
December 24, 1945 Lux Radio Theatre Zachary Morgan “I’ll Be Seeing You”
January 17, 1946 Suspense “The Pasteboard Box”
February 10, 1946 The Radio Reader’s Digest “Ultimate Security”
April 22, 1946 Lux Radio Theatre Alan Quinton “Love Letters”
May 2, 1946 Suspense “Crime Without Passion”
July 24, 1946 Academy Award Theatre “Foreign Correspondent”
September 11, 1946 Academy Award Theatre “Shadow of a Doubt”
September 24, 1946 The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players Lou Gehrig “The Pride of the Yankees”
October 1, 1946 The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players Max de Winter “Rebecca”
November 4, 1946 Lux Radio Theatre “I’ve Always Loved You”
December 5, 1946 The Radio Reader’s Digest “The Hard-Boiled Reporter and the Miracle”
December 16, 1946 The Screen Guild Theater Michael “This Love of Ours”
December 19, 1946 Suspense “The Thing in the Window”
December 25, 1946 The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players “All Through the House”
January 27, 1947 The Screen Guild Theater “Swell Guy”
March 5, 1947 The Eagle’s Brood Documentary on juvenile delinquency
May 15, 1947 The Radio Reader’s Digest “Halfway to Reno”
May 19, 1947 Cavalcade of America “Witness by Moonlight”
September 15, 1947 Lux Radio Theatre Nicholas “The Seventh Veil”
October 26, 1947 Hollywood Fights Back
January 5, 1948 Lux Radio Theatre Glenn Morley “The Farmer’s Daughter”
January 26, 1948 Lux Radio Theatre Devlin “Notorious”
February 12, 1948 The Radio Reader’s Digest “The Baron of Arizona”
March 8, 1948 Lux Radio Theatre John Ballantyne “Spellbound”
April 11, 1948 The Eternal Light “The Man Who Remembered Lincoln”
June 21, 1948 The Screen Guild Theater Uncle Charlie “Shadow of a Doubt”
May 9, 1949 Lux Radio Theatre Anthony Keane “The Paradine Case”
May 15, 1949 The Prudential Family Hour of Stars “Breakdown”
June 30, 1949 Suspense “The Day I Died”
October 24, 1946 Screen Directors Playhouse Alan Quinton “Love Letters”
October 31, 1949 Lux Radio Theatre Eben Adams “Portrait of Jennie”
March 10, 1950 Screen Directors Playhouse Eben Adams “Portrait of Jennie”
March 15, 1950 Family Theater “Germelshausen”
March 30, 1950 Suspense “Blood Sacrifice”
June 11, 1950 Guest Star “Portrait of a Small Gentleman”
September 28, 1950 Suspense “Fly by Night”
October 9, 1950 Hollywood Star Playhouse “Of Night and the River”
November 30, 1950 Screen Directors Playhouse “Mrs. Mike”
January 2, 1951 Cavalcade of America “An American from France”
January 7, 1951 Theatre Guild on the Air Holly Martins “The Third Man”
January 25, 1951 Screen Directors Playhouse “Spellbound”
February 15, 1951 Hallmark Playhouse “A Man for All Ages”
April 9, 1951 Lux Radio Theatre Holly Martins “The Third Man”
September 30, 1951 Theatre Guild on the Air “Main Street”
October 2, 1951 Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway “Angel Street”
October 18, 1951 Hallmark Playhouse “Cashel Byron’s Profession”
November 5, 1951 Suspense “The Trials of Thomas Shaw”
January 24, 1952 Stars in the Air “Enchantment”
January 28, 1952 Suspense “Carnival”
January 31, 1952 Hallmark Playhouse “Westward Ho”
March 6, 1952 Hallmark Playhouse “Man Without a Home”
March 10, 1952 Suspense “A Watery Grave”
March 16, 1952 Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway “In a Lonely Place”
March 27, 1952 The Screen Guild Theater “Night Must Fall”
September 7, 1952 Hollywood Star Playhouse “The Tenth Planet”
September 14, 1952 Theatre Guild On the Air “The Wisteria Tree”
October 12, 1952 Hallmark Playhouse “Young Mr. Disraeli”
December 22, 1952 Suspense “Arctic Rescue”
December 28, 1952 Hallmark Playhouse “A Man Called Peter”
January 11, 1953 Theatre Guild On the Air “Jane”
January 14, 1953 Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway “Hold Back the Dawn”
January 18, 1953 Theatre Guild on the Air “Trial by Forgery”
January 26, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre David Lawrence “September Affair”
March 1, 1953 The Bakers’ Theater of Stars “The Mango Tree”
March 30, 1953 Suspense “Tom Dooley”
June 16, 1953 The Martin and Lewis Show Guest
July 6, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre Jim Warlock “Cynara”
August 3, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre “Romance to a Degree”
August 26, 1953 Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway “Love Letters”
September 14, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre Jim Osborne “The Steel Trap”
October 14, 1953 Radio Playhouse Narrator “Routine Assignment”
October 24, 1953 The Grand Alliance United Nations Day broadcast
May 15, 1954 Salute to Eugene O’Neill Narrator All-star benefit for cerebral palsy
December 15, 1957 Suspense “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
August 2, 1959 Suspense “Red Cloud Mesa”

Complete film credits

Year Title Role Notes
1937 Seeing the World: Part One – A Visit to New York, N.Y. Short
1938 Too Much Johnson Augustus Billings
1940 Citizen Kane trailer Himself, Jedediah “Jed” Leland Short:360
1941 Citizen Kane Jed Leland / Screening Room Reporter
1941 Lydia Michael Fitzpatrick
1942 The Magnificent Ambersons Eugene Morgan
1943 Journey into Fear Howard Graham Screenplay (with uncredited Orson Welles)
1943 Shadow of a Doubt Uncle Charles Oakley
1943 Hers to Hold Bill Morley
1944 Gaslight Brian Cameron
1944 Since You Went Away Lieutenant Tony Willett
1944 I’ll Be Seeing You Zachary Morgan
1945 Love Letters Alan Quinton
1946 Duel in the Sun Jesse McCanles
1947 The Farmer’s Daughter Glenn Morley
1948 Portrait of Jennie Eben Adams Venice Film Festival Award for Best Actor
1949 The Third Man Holly Martins
1949 Under Capricorn Sam Flusky
1949 Beyond the Forest Dr. Lewis Moline
1950 September Affair David Lawrence
1950 Two Flags West Col. Clay Tucker
1950 Walk Softly, Stranger Chris Hale Shot in 1948
1951 Half Angel John Raymond, Jr.
1951 Peking Express Michael Bachlin
1951 Othello Venetian senator Uncredited
1951 The Man with a Cloak Dupin
1952 The Wild Heart Narrator
1952 Untamed Frontier Kirk Denbow
1952 The Steel Trap James Osborne
1953 Niagara George Loomis
1953 Egypt by Three Narrator
1953 A Blueprint for Murder Whitney Cameron
1955 Special Delivery John Adams
1955 Bedevilled Flight announcer at the airport Voice, Uncredited
1956 The Bottom of the Bottle P.M. Martin
1956 The Killer Is Loose Detective Sam Wagner
1957 The Halliday Brand Daniel Halliday
1958 Touch of Evil Coroner Uncredited
1958 From the Earth to the Moon Victor Barbicane
1960 The Angel Wore Red Hawthorne
1961 The Last Sunset John Breckenridge
1963 Alexander the Great Antigonus TV movie
1964 Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte Dr. Drew Bayliss
1965 The Great Sioux Massacre Major Reno
1965 The Money Trap Dr. Horace Van Tilden
1965 The Tramplers Temple Cordeen
1966 The Oscar Kenneth H. Regan
1966 Brighty of the Grand Canyon Jim Owen
1967 The Hellbenders Col. Jonas
1967 Some May Live Col. Woodward
1967 Jack of Diamonds Ace of Diamonds
1968 Days of Fire Destil
1968 Petulia Mr. Danner
1968 White Comanche Sheriff Logan
1969 The Lonely Profession Martin Bannister TV movie
1969 Latitude Zero (film)
1969 Keene
1970 Cutter’s Trail General Spalding TV movie; failed series pilot
1970 The Grasshopper Richard Morgan
1970 Tora! Tora! Tora! Henry L. Stimson
1971 Assault on the Wayne Admiral TV movie
1971 Do You Take This Stranger? Dr. Robert Carson TV movie
1971 City Beneath the Sea Dr. Ziegler TV movie
1971 Journey to Murder Jeff Wheeler Two 1968 episodes from the UK anthology TV series Journey to the Unknown
1971 The Abominable Dr. Phibes Dr. Vesalius
1971 Lady Frankenstein Dr. Frankenstein
1972 The Screaming Woman George Tresvant TV movie
1972 Doomsday Voyage Captain Jason
1972 Baron Blood Baron Otto von Kleist / Alfred Becker
1972 The Scientific Cardplayer George
1973 The Devil’s Daughter Judge Weatherby TV movie
1973 Soylent Green William R. Simonson
1973 F for Fake Special Participant
1973 A Delicate Balance Harry
1975 Syndicate Sadists Paternò
1975 Timber Tramps Greedy sawmill mogul
1976 The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case Dr. Joseph Francis Condon TV movie
1976 A Whisper in the Dark The Professor
1976 Freedom Is Voice TV movie
1977 Twilight’s Last Gleaming Secretary of State Arthur Renfrew
1977 Airport ’77 Nicholas St. Downs III
1977 Aspen Horton Paine TV movie
1978 Last In, First Out Foster Johnson
1978 Caravans Ambassador Crandall
1978 The Perfect Crime Sir Arthur Dundee
1979 Island of the Fishmen Prof. Ernest Marvin
1979 The Concorde Affair Milland
1979 Guyana: Crime of the Century Richard Gable
1979 Churchill and the Generals General George Marshall TV movie
1980 The Hearse Walter Pritchard
1980 Casino Ed Booker TV movie
1980 Heaven’s Gate The Reverend Doctor
1980 Delusion Ivar Langrock
1981 The Survivor Priest (final film role)

Television credits

Year Series/Miniseries Role Episode(s)
1954 Producers’ Showcase Grant Matthews “State of the Union”
1954 General Electric Theater Hanley “The High Green Wall”
1955 The Best of Broadway Dan McCorn “Broadway”
1955 Celebrity Playhouse Marshal Fenton Lockhart “Showdown at San Pablo”
1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents William Callew “Breakdown”
1955–1956 Star Stage Narrator
Alexander Holmes
“The Man in the Black Robe”
“The U.S. vs. Alexander Holmes”
1956 The Ford Television Theatre John Ashburn “Man Without a Fear”
1956 General Electric Theater Captain
Private Harris
“H.M.S. Marlborough Will Enter Port”
“The Enemies”
1956–1959 The Joseph Cotten Show Various roles
1957 Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theater Bruce Malone “Contact”
1957 Telephone Time Lt. Cmdr. Joseph P. Fyffe “The Man the Navy Couldn’t Sink”
1957 Playhouse 90 Robert Rainey “The Edge of Innocence”
1957 Schlitz Playhouse “Neighbors”
1958 Zane Grey Theatre Ben Harper “Man Unforgiving”
1958 Suspicion Gregg Carey “The Eye of Truth”
1958 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Tony Gould “Together”
1959 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Black McSween “The Day the Town Stood Up”
1959 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Courtney Masterson “Dead Weight”
1960 The DuPont Show with June Allyson Dick Burlingame
Charles Lawrence
“The Blue Goose”
“Dark Fear”
1960 Checkmate Dr. George Mallinson “Face in the Window”
1961 The Barbara Stanwyck Show Mac McClay “The Hitch-Hiker”
1961 Bus Stop Professor Wheelright “Cherie”
1961 Theatre ’62 Alex Sebastian “Notorious”
1961 Wagon Train Captain Dan Brady “The Captain Dan Brady Story”
1962 Dr. Kildare Charles Ladovan “The Administrator”
1962 Saints and Sinners Preston Cooper “The Man on the Rim”
1961 Wagon Train John Augustus “The John Augustus Story”
1963 The Great Adventure Captain Meehan “The Death of Sitting Bull”
“The Massacre at Wounded Knee”
1963 77 Sunset Strip Arnold Buhler “By His Own Verdict”
1963–1964 Hollywood and the Stars Narrator 31 episodes
1967 Cimarron Strip Nathan Tio “The Search”
1968 Ironside Dr. Benjamin Stern “Split Second to an Epitaph”
1968 It Takes a Thief Col. Heinrich “Hans Across the Border”
1968 Journey to the Unknown “Do Me a Favour and Kill Me” (UK)
1969 Latitude Zero Capt. Craig McKenzie
1969–1970 It Takes a Thief Mr. Jack “To Lure a Man”
“To Sing a Song of Murder”
“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”
1970 The Name of the Game Henry Worthington Rayner “The King of Denmark”
1970 The Virginian Judge Will McMasters
Judge Hobbs
“A Time of Terror”
“Gun Quest”
1971 NET Playhouse Narrator “Trail of Tears”
1973 The Streets of San Francisco John R. James “A Collection of Eagles”
1974 The Rockford Files Warner Jameson “This Case is Closed”
1976 Origins of the Mafia The Envoy Miniseries; “Gli antenati”
1978 The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries Weldon Rathbone “Arson and Old Lace”
1978 Fantasy Island Simon Grant “Return to Fantasy Island”
1979 Fantasy Island Thomas Cummings “The Wedding”
1979–1980 Tales of the Unexpected
(the UK series)
Edward (Series 1)
Lionel (Series 2)
“Edward the Conqueror” (Series 1)
“Depart in Peace” (Series 2)
1981 The Love Boat Col. van Ryker “The Duel”
Two for Julie”
“Aunt Hilly”

External Links

Actor Joseph Cotten – Wikipedia

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *