Joseph Cotten from A to Z


Ah, Jo, Joseph, Joseph Cotten… What a man! Perhaps one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood, he surely deserves his own tribute. And his own blogathon! Crystal from In The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films are back to take care of that! Of course, when they announced the event honouring the man, I surely couldn’t say no to that. You see, he’s one of my very favourite actors,  right there in the top 10. I didn’t necessarily want to focus on only one movie and, as I had already written a tribute to him, I decided to do an A to Z post similar to the one I wrote for the last Golden Boy Blogathon.


Oh, and I’m very happy that Crystal and Maddy are not hosting this blogathon in May (on Jo’s birthday) because, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to participate!


A is for Alfred Hitchcock

I discovered Joseph Cotten thanks to one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films: Shadow of A Doubt (1943) in which Jo plays the role of uncle Charlie, the villain. And he’s brilliant. He also starred in Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949) and was in three of Alfred Hitchcock Presents episodes, including one of the best: Breakdown. The two men shared a friendship.

Under Capricorn

B is for brothers

Joseph Cotten had two younger brothers.

C is for Cotten

Born Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr. It’s CottEEEEEEEEEEn!! Ok?? If you always write CottOn, please stop. By the way, Joseph Cotton exists, but he’s a Jamaica reggea DJ. Nothing to do with the man of the moment.

Learn the difference!

D is for droll

Yes, yes. Who thought the villain of Niagara or Under Capricorn could be comical? Well, Joseph was as we saw in movies such as Since You Went Away or The Farmer’s Daughter. AND, when Orson Welles met him, he recognized he was a fine comic actor.


E is for elegant

Perhaps the best word to describe Jo’s physical appearance. Always looking like a gentleman, his style is one that could charm the viewers and accentuate his undeniable charisma.


F is for football

Before becoming an actor, Joseph raised money playing professional football on Sundays.

G is for good and bad

A versatile actor, Joseph Cotten was great at playing both vile and good characters. His role of Uncle Charlie is Shadow of a Doubt gave us goosebumps, but his role as Brian Cameron in Gaslight gave us hope for the faith of Paula (Ingrid Bergman’s character).

H is for Hollywood Boulevard

Joseph Cotten’s star on the Walk of Fame is located on 6382 Hollywood Blvd. And here I am, being a true fan. 🙂


I is for International Award

Or the Volpi Cup for Best Actor (Venice Film Festival). This is, unfortunately, the only award Joseph ever won. It was for Portrait of Jennie. But we have to look at the good side of things. The Venice Film Festival is one of the three most important international film festivals alongside Cannes Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival. By winning the Volpi Cup, Jo proved to have a reputation outside of Hollywood.


J is for Jennifer Jones

The lovely Jennifer Jones was at the peak of her career in the 40s and that’s when she co-starred in four movies with Joseph Cotten: Since You Went Away, Love Letters, Duel in the Sun, and Portrait of Jennie. Their teamwork never disappointed, especially not in Portrait of Jennie where they had an electrifying chemistry.


K is for key

Joseph Cotten was an important key figure of various “things” from the 7th art: a key figure of film noir, a key figure of the 40s, a key figure of cinema villains, a key  figure of Hitchcock and Welle’s filmography, and a key figure of Best Picture nominated films (Oscars): Citizen Kane, Since You Went Away, Gaslight, and The Magnificent Ambersons.

Citizen Kane

L is for long weddings

Joseph Cotten was married twice, but both these weddings lasted a considerable time. From 1931 to 1960 (29 years) he was married to Lenore Kipp. From 1960 until his death in 1994 (34 years), he was married to British actress Patricia Medina. Fun fact: I discovered that she was actually born in Liverpool, England. So, this city of Lancashire isn’t only the birthplace of The Beatles!

M is for Mercury Theatre

The Mercury Theatre was the theatre company created by Orson Welles and producer John Houseman. Joseph Cotten was part of the players along with other well-known names of the industry: Agnes Moorehead, Norman Lloyd, Paul Stewart, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, George Colouris, etc. Most of the players would be cast in the first Welles films: Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons.


N is for Natural

Joseph Cotten was one of these people who was born to act. Playing a role seemed very easy for him and, in opposition to his fellow Orson Welles, he never was too theatrical for the screen.

O is for Orson Welles

Well, thanks to Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre, Joseph Cotten had the chance to start an acting career, first on stage, and then in movies. The two men met in 1934 and became good friends. They were both part of the cast of CBS’s The American School of the Air. I sometimes don’t understand that, despite being part of films directed by two of the most well-known figures in Hollywood: Welles and Hitchcock, Cotten isn’t better known today.


P is for Petersburg, Virginia

That’s where Joseph Cotten was born, in 1905. A small and not very well-known city, it, however, had an important role to play during the Civil War due to its railroad network.


Q is for quality

That’s what Joseph brought to the films in which he acted: quality.

R is for radio

Joseph Cotten his one of these actors who also had an important radio acting career by being part of numerous programs such as The Mercury Theatre On Air, The Campbell Playhouse, Lux Radio Theatre, The Orson Welles Show, Suspense, and more. I mean, have you heard his charming low voice?! It was perfect for the radio.


S is for seminar

Why seminar? Because when you attend a seminar on Hitchcock and Welles (which I did last semester at university), you see a lot of him! “Here he is again!” I don’t complain.

T is for Too Much Johnson

One of Orson Welle’s earliest films as a director, it had an important role to play in Jo’s career as it was his first film. Too Much Johnson is a silent comedy. It’s kind of weird but worth seeing, especially if you are a devoted fan.


U is for underrated

Do I really need to explain that? Joseph Cotten deserved much more recognition than what he got. But,  in a way, I feel he is more appreciated by today’s cinephiles than he was by his contemporaries. And, luckily, people like Crystal and Maddy (our blogathon hosts) are here to keep his memory alive.


A meme made by my Facebook friend Ruth!

V is for Vanity Will Get You Somewhere

This is the title of his autobiography that he published in 1987. I haven’t read it yet, but I would love to as I’ve heard good comments about it.


W is for Wien

That’s how we say Vienna in German. One of the most important films noir, The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949), with our man in the leading role, was shot in the beautiful Austrian city. I visited it not a long time ago, and I was not disappointed. It was thrilling to walk where Joseph Cotten walked!

X is for x-tra

Extra with a twist. Because Jo was extra talented, extra handsome, extra underrated, extra interesting, extra everything. He was EXTRA!

Z is for zestful

Because I do feel a lot of enthusiasm when I watch his films or when I write about him. ❤


Wow! I must admit it was not easy to find words for some of the letters, but it still was a fun activity.

A big thank you to Crystal and Maddy for hosting this wonderful event. It’s been a huge pleasure to take part. All days of the year are good to honour the extraordinary Joseph Cotten.

Make sure to read the other entries here!


11 thoughts on “Joseph Cotten from A to Z

  1. OMG this is too too funny especially the CottEEEN vs Cotton thing!!! HAHA!!!
    And yes Wien, Osterreich!!! Das fotograf ist super toll! Jo Cotten truly a good old fashioned southern gentlemen – charm is just a given with him!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was amazing! I bet you had a lot of fun by coming up with one thing for each letter, even the most difficult ones. Joseph Cotten is so talented and underrated!

    Liked by 1 person

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