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'Me and Orson Welles'

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'Me and Orson Welles'

'Me and Orson Welles'

Photo of Young Boy with Famous Actor Inspires Novel

'Me and Orson Welles'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1532428/1540364" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

This 1937 photo of a young Arthur Anderson with Orson Welles from Welles' production of Julius Caesar inspired Kaplow's book. Lucas and Pritchard from the Collection of Arthur Anderson hide caption

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Lucas and Pritchard from the Collection of Arthur Anderson

Arthur Anderson, in recent photo, holding a copy of Julius Caesar. Robert Kaplow hide caption

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Robert Kaplow

Me and Orson Welles by Robert Kaplow. hide caption

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Robert Kaplow discusses his new novel, Me and Orson Welles, on Morning Edition, a show he has often interrupted via his satirical alter ego, Moe Moskowitz. In this brief essay for npr.org, the author explains how he came to write the book.

Me and Orson Welles reflects a lifelong interest in the theatre and in the 1930s. This is the period of my father's youth, and the novel is dedicated to him, as his spirit and humor invigorate every page. Specifically, I remember 10 years ago sitting in the basement of the Rutgers University Library, looking through a copy of Theatre Arts Monthly from 1937, and there was a photograph from Welles's production of Julius Caesar which featured Welles in a dark coat and black gloves, sitting at the edge of the stage. Next to him was a young man playing a ukulele tricked up to look like a lute.

My first thought was: The real story here is the kid. What does this moment feel like from the kid's point of view — to bear witness to a celebrity creating himself right in front of your eyes?

Investigating the history of this theatrical moment, I discovered the young actor from 1937, Arthur Anderson, was alive and living in New York. He was an invaluable source, and he still has the ukulele, which he played for me at his kitchen table in a remarkable moment that felt as if I were melting through time.