Welles in The Little Shop of Horrors
|Born||February 17, 1924
New York City, New York
|Died||August 18, 2005
Mel Welles (February 17, 1924 – August 18, 2005) was an American film actor and director. His best-remembered role may be that of hapless flower shop owner Gravis Mushnik in the 1960 low-budget Roger Corman dark comedy, The Little Shop of Horrors.
Life and career
Not much is known of Welles' early life, except that he was born Ira Meltcher in New York City. He graduated from Mt. Carmel High School, in 1940. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree from Penn State University, a Master of Arts degree from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University.
Welles held a number of jobs during his lifetime; at one time or another he worked as a clinical psychologist, radio DJ, television actor, writer and film director. He did some stage work before traveling to Hollywood, where in 1953 he appeared in his first film, Appointment in Honduras. His favorite role (The Little Shop of Horrors) was also his last in the U.S. for many years.
In the early 1960s, he left the United States initially to make a film in Germany. After the producer was arrested he travelled to Rome to act, produce and direct mostly uncredited primarily in Europe several film productions including the cult horror films Maneater of Hydra (1967) and Lady Frankenstein (1971). His fluency in five languages proved to be most helpful where he started a dubbing company that by his own estimate dubbed over 800 European made films. He also served as a film consultant. Later, he returned to the U.S., appearing in a number of films, doing voice work, and teaching voice acting.
Probably his most widely seen work in the late 1970s was his English adaptation of the Japanese television show, "Spectreman" which was seen on UHF and cable across the United States. While he shares writing credit with two other people, it's clear that most of the English voice work, and the offbeat humor, is his. Reportedly, Welles also wrote gag material for Lord Buckley at some point in his career.
In 1998, Welles took to the stage in a community theater production of Little Shop of Horrors (musical) as Mushnik, the role he created in the original Roger Corman film. Welles had never performed in the musical and was happy to be asked to do the role, which he described as a "mitzvah" for Scotts Valley Performing Arts. Jonathan Haze, who played Seymour in the original film, attended the opening, and Welles also received a visit from Martin P. Robinson, the designer of the Audrey II plant puppets used in the off-Broadway production (Robinson is also famous for his puppetry on Sesame Street).
Arguably his most remembered piece is the beat poem he wrote for the classic film High School Confidential (1958). Famously delivered by Phillipa Fallon, Dragsville, has become a classic piece of literary and cinema history.
Welles was working on a horror screenplay, tentatively titled House of a Hundred Horrors, at the time of his death.
- Appointment in Honduras (1953)
- Gun Fury (1953)
- Wyoming Renegades (1954)
- Jesse James vs. the Daltons (1954)
- Yankee Pasha (1954)
- Massacre Canyon (1954)
- Pushover (1954)
- Bengal Brigade (1954)
- The Silver Chalice (1954)
- The Racers (1955)
- Pirates of Tripoli (1955)
- Soldier of Fortune (1955)
- Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955)
- Spy Chasers (1955)
- Duel on the Mississippi (1955)
- Kismet (1955)
- The Big Knife (1955)
- Hold Back Tomorrow (1955)
- The Fighting Chance (1955)
- Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956)
- Outside the Law (1956)
- Calling Homicide (1956)
- Flight to Hong Kong (1956)
- Code of Silence (1957)
- Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)
- Hold That Hypnotist (1957)
- The Undead (1957)
- Rock All Night (1957)
- Designing Woman (1957)
- The 27th Day (1957)
- Hell on Devil's Island (1957)
- Tip on a Dead Jockey (1957)
- The Brothers Karamazov (1958)
- High School Confidential! (1958)
- Hakuja den (1958) (English voice dub)
- The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
- Lo Sceicco Rosso (1962)
- Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962)
- The Reluctant Saint (1962)
- The Keeler Affair (1963)
- Panic Button (1964)
- Our Man in Jamaica (1965)
- La Sorella di Satana (1966)
- Llaman de Jamaica, Mr. Ward (1968)
- Die Grosse Treibjagd (1968)
- Joyride to Nowhere (1977)
- Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980)
- Faeries (1981) (voice)
- Wolfen (1981) (voice)
- Body and Soul (1981)
- The Last American Virgin (1982)
- Homework (1982)
- Chopping Mall (1986)
- Commando Squad (1987)
- Rented Lips (1988)
- Invasion Earth: The Aliens Are Here (1988)
- Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989)
- Raising Dead (2002)
- Paul, Louis Mel Welles Interview in Tales from the Cult film Trenches: Interviews with 36 Actors from Horror, Science Fiction and Exploitation Cinema McFarland 06/09/2007
- Hoberman, J (31 August 2014). "Video: Drugs, Beatsand Other 1950s Perils". The New York Times Company. Retrieved 16 October 2014.