What Time Was Orson Welles Born?

I’ve long been fascinated by actor/director Orson Welles. Right now, I’m reading a wonderful biography of him published in 1995, Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu, by Simon Callow.

Like many epicurians, Welles was born under the sign of Taurus, the same sign as William Randolph Hearst, the media mogul who was the inspiration for Welles’ epic film Citizen Kane.

Here’s what’s interesting. Many astrology Web sites, including Astrotheme of France, show Welles being born at 7 a.m. on May 6, 1915 in Kenosha, Wis.

That’s not the time that Callow reports. According to the Welles biographer, journalists were constantly asking to see Welles’ birth certificate because they wanted to prove that he was 5 to 10 years older than the wunderkind said he was.

Says Callow: “His mother later told him that because it was six o’clock in the morning — the time Kenosha’s many factories started work — whistles and bells had all started blowing at once, as if to herald him; a perfectly appropriate beginning, since most of the rest of his life was accompanied by fanfares of one sort or another.”

This reminds me of inventor Nikola Tesla, who was reportedly born at midnight as lightning struck outside.

My goal in writing this post is to point out that the time of birth floating around the blogosphere for Welles is most likely wrong. I intend to write more about the prodigy, who had a creative Venus/Mars conjunction in pioneering Aries, after I finish the book and complete my research into Welles’ Depression-era production of The Cradle Will Rock.

Like another O.W. (Oscar Wilde), Welles was born with a conjunction between revolutionary Uranus and the public-oriented North Node.

Wilde had Moon square his Uranus/Node conjunction; Welles had the Moon in the middle of his Uranus/Node combo. According to Reinhold Ebertin’s The Combination of Stellar Influences, this picture results in “an excitable disposition in the presence of other persons.”

Here’s a natal chart for Welles with a 6 a.m. time of birth, courtesy of Astrodienst.

Of course, reading a biography is not as foolproof as seeing a birth certificate for Welles. But back in those days birth times were often not recorded. As I like to point out, biographies are a treasure trove of data for the astrological student.

I’ve got one word for you: Rosebud.

Reverend Wright Redux

I’ve got to hand it to my commenter Chris. Earlier this year, when I wrote about the parting of the ways between Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama and his minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Chris had this to say:

“I expect some intensification when Pluto backs up to square Wright’s Sun and Barack’s Mars. Is it just a matter of time until the next you-tube sermon from Wright equating Barack to the Prodigal Son? Perhaps they’ll be a firecracker exploding soon relating to the Obamas and marriage counseling or tax-deductible donations made by Obama to Wright’s congregation.”

The comment ended up in the About section of this blog, not under my post about Reverend Wright.

Chris was prescient in his observation that Wright would be back in the news. Pluto has just turned direct and is moving to once more square Wright’s 29 degree Virgo Sun. He’s making headlines today because Elizabeth Payne, the secretary of a Dallas church run by one of Wright’s disciples, told the New York Post, she had an affair with the clergyman.

Assuming this allegations are true, perhaps Reverend Wright decided that Oscar Wilde was right after all: The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Way to go, Chris!

The Importance of Being Oscar

I’ve been having a spirited e-mail exchange with a correspondent who wants to know why I’m so fond of Oscar Wilde. I usually have a quote from the playwright, who was a Libra, as my signature at the bottom of my e-mail and also have one in the About section of this Web site:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Prodded by the question from my e-mail pal, I decided to investigate. Why I am I so partial to Oscar Wilde, the Irish man of letters who was imprisoned in Victorian times for “the love that dare not speak its name.” That phrase, by the way, is not Wilde’s; it was coined by Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas.

I love word play. I’m no literary lion, but I believe it’s the tension of opposites in many Wilde quotes that makes them sizzle. However, they can also appear contradictory or downright silly. No matter, I love them.

Here’s a Wilde sampler:

We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.

There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.

What accounts for this sparkling wit? If you look at the natal chart for Wilde, born Oct. 16, 1854 in Ireland, you see a T-square in fixed signs. Mercury (communication) in Scorpio opposes Uranus (electricity) in Taurus, while both planets square the Moon (woman) in flamboyant Leo.

I think the Uranus/Mercury opposition reflects the dynamism of opposites in Wilde’s aphorisms.

Many of the witticisms for which Wilde is known were the lines of female characters in his plays. One of my favorites is from Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest when she is informed by Jack Worthing that he is an orphan: “To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

Here’s one the economists always appreciate, also from The Importance of Being Earnest. When Miss Prism leaves Cecily to her studies, she tells her pupil: “The chapter on the fall of the rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational.”

Because the North Node in Taurus is conjunct Uranus, Wilde’s quotes were a hit with the public (North Node).

At first I was suspicious that Wilde’s time of birth could be known, but a 3 a.m. time is used by many sources. That produces a Virgo rising that puts Neptune, the planet of deceit and illusion, on the descendant. Given that Wilde once said: “The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived,” the chart seems to make sense.

I don’t have time to do a full treatment of Wilde’s life and I’m sure other astrologers have already done it, but now I know why I’m wild about Wilde.