A preview of Citizen Kane in early February 1941 had drawn almost universally favorable reviews from critics. However, one viewer, the leading Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, was incensed by the film and Welles’ portrayal of its protagonist, Charles Foster Kane. She took her concerns to Hearst himself, who soon began waging a full-scale campaign against Welles and his film, barring the Hearst newspapers from running ads for it and enlisting the support of Hollywood bigwigs such as Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was said Hearst was particularly angry over the movie’s depiction of a character based on his companion, Marion Davies, a former showgirl whom he had helped become a popular Hollywood actress. For his part, Welles threatened to sue Hearst for trying to suppress the film and also to sue RKO if the company did not release the film.
When Citizen Kane finally opened in May 1941, it was a failure at the box office. Although reviews were favorable, and it was nominated for nine Academy Awards, Welles was booed at that year’s Oscar ceremony, and RKO quietly archived the film. It was only years later, when it was re-released, that Citizen Kane began to garner well-deserved accolades for its pioneering camera and sound work, as well as its complex blend of drama, black comedy, history, biography and even fake-newsreel or “mockumentary” footage that has informed hundreds of films produced since then. It consistently ranks at the top of film critics’ lists, most notably grabbing the No. 1 spot on the American Film Institute’s poll of America’s 100 Greatest Films.
After Citizen Kane, Welles’ diverse works consisted of everything from Shakespearean adaptations to documentaries. Some of his most acclaimed films included The Stranger (1946), The Lady from Shanghai (1948) and Chimes at Midnight (1966). In his later years, he narrated documentaries and appeared in commercials, and he left behind several unfinished films when he died on October 10, 1985 at the age of seventy.
On this date in 2002, former NBA All-Star Jayson Williams was indicted on a series of charges, including aggravated manslaughter, in connection with the shooting death of limousine driver Costas Christofi at Williams' estate on February 14.
According to reports, Christofi had been hired to drive a group of Williams' friends, including several members of the Harlem Globetrotters, to a local restaurant, while another group drove with Williams. Once at the restaurant, the men racked up a significant liquor bill. Christofi then drove some of the group back to Williams' estate, where he was invited inside. As the evening continued, Williams invited his guests to check out his gun collection in his mansion's master bedroom. Prosecutors allege that soon after, he took out a Browning 12-gauge shotgun, and, with it pointed toward Christofi, yanked it upward. The gun discharged, sending the fatal buckshot into the driver's stomach. Some witnesses say Williams almost immediately began tampering with the scene to make it appear that Christofi killed himself while the rest of the group had been elsewhere in the house. Williams allegedly jumped into a swimming pool to clean himself, changed clothes, wiped down the shotgun and repositioned it. They also say Williams pressured them to lie to police.
Williams was indicted for aggravated manslaughter and witness and evidence tampering, among other charges. On April 30, 2004, after a three-month trial, he was acquitted of the most serious charge, aggravated manslaughter, but convicted of four cover-up charges. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on reckless manslaughter, the second most serious charge. Jurors said afterward that they just did not believe Williams intended to kill Christofi. On May 21, prosecutors took the first steps toward retrying Williams. After several years of delays, in February 2010 he pled guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to five years in prison.