Brow Beat

Orson Welles as Unicron and Other Great Actors’ Bizarre Final Roles

Yesterday in Slate, John Swansburg took the opportunity afforded by the release of Transformers: Dark of the Moon to champion the 1986 animated film Transformers: The Movie as the Autobots finest big-screen outing.

Swansburg also reminds us that Transformers is equally notable for including Orson Welles’ final performance:

According to the chronology appended to Peter Bogdanovich’s This Is Orson Welles, on Oct. 5, 1985, Welles spent the day on the set of Transformers: The Movie, giving voice to Unicron, a villainous, planet-eating planet. On Oct. 10, he was dead. The man’s first feature film had been Citizen Kane; his last was an animated movie based on a line of toy robots.

Welles isn’t the only actor to have ended a fabled career with a less-than-lofty film. The great Anne Bancroft’s swan song was 2008’s critically-blasted Delgo, which, as Wikipedia reminds us, was one of the lowest-grossing wide releases in recent history. (Bancroft played the evil queen Sedessa):

Meanwhile, Jimmy Stewart bid farewell to the silver screen with his role as Wylie Burp, a hound-dog sheriff with a disturbing eyeball trick in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. (A sequel! A sequel! For shame!)

This list has a fantastic list with even more terrible final roles by great actors; you haven’t lived until you’ve seen the trailer for Veronica Lake’s final film, 1970’s Flesh Feast.