Orson Welles as Unicron and Other Great Actors’ Bizarre Final Roles

Slate's Culture Blog
June 30 2011 3:07 PM

Orson Welles as Unicron and Other Great Actors’ Bizarre Final Roles

Yesterday in Slate, John Swansburg took the opportunity afforded by the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon to champion the 1986 animated film Transformers: The Movie as the Autobots finest big-screen outing.

Swansburg also reminds us that Transformers is equally notable for including Orson Welles’ final performance:

Advertisement

According to the chronology appended to Peter Bogdanovich's This Is Orson Welles, on Oct. 5, 1985, Welles spent the day on the set of Transformers: The Movie, giving voice to Unicron, a villainous, planet-eating planet. On Oct. 10, he was dead. The man's first feature film had been Citizen Kane; his last was an animated movie based on a line of toy robots.

Welles isn’t the only actor to have ended a fabled career with a less-than-lofty film. The great Anne Bancroft’s swan song was 2008’s critically-blasted Delgo, which, as Wikipedia reminds us, was one of the lowest-grossing wide releases in recent history. (Bancroft played the evil queen Sedessa):

Meanwhile, Jimmy Stewart bid farewell to the silver screen with his role as Wylie Burp, a hound-dog sheriff with a disturbing eyeball trick in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. (A sequel! A sequel! For shame!)

This UGO.com list has a fantastic list with even more terrible final roles by great actors; you haven't lived until you've seen the trailer for Veronica Lake's final film, 1970's Flesh Feast.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.