Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


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. 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 1996

Collection size: 1,100 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.