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Weissberger mss., 1938-1949

Summary Information

Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Lilly Library
Indiana University
1200 E. Seventh St.
Bloomington, IN 47405-5500
Phone: 812-855-2452
Fax: 812-855-3143

Weissberger, L. Arnold

Weissberger mss., 1938-1949

Collection No.
LMC 2067

1,100 items

Materials are in English.

The Weissberger mss., 1938-1949, consist primarily of correspondence and legal papers pertaining to the financial affairs of Orson Welles and Mercury Theatre, Inc., as handled by Welles's personal attorney, L. Arnold Weissberger, 1907-1981.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Biographical Note

Personal attorney to Orson Welles, Weissberger was born in New York City and educated at the Ethical Culture School. He graduated from Harvard University in 1927 and received an LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1930. He was admitted to the New York State bar that year and went on to become an American theatrical lawyer whose clientele featured numerous celebrities from the stage and screen, including Welles. He was chairman of the board of Friends of the Theater and Music Collection of the Museum of the City of New York, chairman of the New Dramatists Inc., and president of the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance before his death in 1981. Orson Welles delivered a eulogy at Weissberger's memorial service.


Organized by the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Contracts, Agreements, Legal Papers; III. Photographs; IV. Printed; V. Miscellaneous.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence includes primarily financial matters of Orson Welles and Mercury Theatre, Inc., including detailed accounts of Welles's tax difficulties with the IRS; as well as correspondence concerning the release of Citizen Kane and to the threatened lawsuit by William Randolph Hearst. The Contracts, Agreements, Legal Papers series includes more records concerning Welles's tax problems; copies of contracts and agreements between Welles and RKO; other legal documents pertaining to Mercury Theatre; insurance policies for both Orson and Virginia Welles; and copies of Welles's birth certificate.

Correspondents include: Aaron Copland; Herbert Drake; John Houseman; Carlos L. Israels; Ruth Krauser; Jack Moss; Fleta Preston; George Schaefer; Augusta Weissberger; L. Arnold Weissberger; Orson Welles; S. P. Williams.

Photographs consist of primarily theater productions and performers, as well as stills from the recently discovered (in 2013) early Welles film Too Much Johnson. The Printed series includes newspaper clippings mainly about Welles. Miscellaneous materials include an oversize folio containing summary film earnings for Citizen Kane, Sept. 1941-Jan. 1942.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information
Acquired: 1996
Usage Restrictions
Prior arrangements are not necessary before coming to the Library, however, patrons from out of town are encouraged to communicate with the Library in advance of their visits to ascertain availability of materials.

Photocopying permitted only with permission of the Curator of Manuscripts, Lilly Library.

Preferred Citation
[Item], Weissberger mss., Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.
Processing Information
Processed by Staff.

Completed in 2013

Series: Box 1 Correspondence

Correspondence, 1939-1949;  1938-1949;  Primarily financial matters of Orson Welles and Mercury Theatre, Inc.

(26 folders)

Includes two folders (1941, Jan. and 1941) pertaining to the release of Citizen Kane and William Randolph Hearst's threatened lawsuit.

Series: Box 2 Contracts, Agreements, Legal Papers

Folder 1: AFRA and CBS. 1938, Jul. 12

Folder 2: Housman, John. Assignments to L. Arnold Weissberger, 4 Oct.  and 28 Oct. 1938;

agreement re: production of Five Kings, (Jan. 27, 1939)

Folder 3: Welles and Columbia Artists, agreements and correspondence. 1938-1940

Folder 4: Columbia Phonograph Co., Mercury Theatre, Inc. and Orson Welles, May 1939

Folder 5: Orson Welles and RKO agreements, 1939 Jul.-1941

Folder 6: RKO and Orson Welles agreement, Jul. 7, 1941

[photocopy of photostat]

Folder 7: Welles' insurance policies [a few are for Virginia Welles]

Folder 8: Welles' birth certificate (2 copies)

Folder 9: Welles' tax problems

Box 3 Orson Welles and RKO: photocopy of 1939  contract and photostat of revised 1941  contract

Series: Box




Folder 10: Actors [incl. one of Mark Blitzstein] (15)

Folder 11: Actresses (6)

Folder 12: Doctor Faustus (2)

Folder 13: Horse Eats Hat (2)

Folder 14: Julius Caesar (2)

Folder 15: Shoemaker's Holiday (2)

Folder 16: Too Much Johnson (16)

Folder 17: Welles, Orson (5)

Folder 18: Miscellaneous (3)

Folder 19: Postcard Photographs

Box 5 (Oversize) Orson and Virginia Welles wedding photo

Series: Box 2 Printed

Folders 20-21: clippings re: Citizen Kane and Macbeth

Box 6 (Oversize) Printed: clippings, chiefly re: Welles


Folder 23: "Alva Johnston's Second Installment," written piece on the young Orson Welles

Folder 24: Train tickets; calling cards; reply brief: Helen Twelvetrees v. RKO

Folder 25: Personal

Folder 26: Clippings re: Weissberger

Box 4 (Oversize) Summary earnings sheets for Citizen Kane, Sept. 1941-Jan. 1942