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Dear Flixster Community,

After seven fabulous years with you all, we are sorry to let you know that we're going to be retiring the Flixster Community site on September 30, 2014. Please note that you can still access your ratings, reviews, and quizzes on Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes using your same login. We have had so much fun building this community with you.

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  • Name: Mel Welles
  • Date of Birth: February 17, 1924
  • Place of Birth: Not available
Mini-bio: A writer turned actor/director, Mel Welles was one of the most enduring cult figures from '50s exploitation pictures. Born in New York City in 1924, Welles moved into films after careers in clinical p... read moresychology, writing, and radio, and also performed in theater and wrestling promotion in Canada. He arrived in Hollywood at just about the time that his services were needed, in the first half of the 1950s -- filmmakers were eager to make movies appealing to teens, and in addition to some skills as an actor, Welles, who had written for jazz satirist Lord Buckley, was a natural both as a performer and writer of "special material" to jazz up the scripts and action of the exploitation pictures being ground out. His most notable work in this area was in the 1958 drug-and-sexploitation classic High School Confidential, directed by Jack Arnold, for which Welles provided two stunningly funny (and effective) parodies of beat poetry and jargon, and also served as the movie's resident expert on marijuana. During this period, Welles -- who was a master of numerous accents and dialects -- appeared in numerous Roger Corman films (Attack of the Crab Monsters, Rock All Night etc.), usually in small roles, and became part of the stock company that included Dick Miller and Jonathan Haze. His most prominent and enduring role for Corman -- and his personal favorite -- was that of Gravis Mushnik in the original 1960 non-musical version of Little Shop Of Horrors. During the '60s, Welles began directing low budget films such as the crime thriller Code of Silence (1960) and the horror film Lady Frankenstein (1972). By the 1980's, Welles had come to appreciate the admiration lavished on his work by his former teenage fans at conventions and in books -- he appreciated the outpourings of approval for his acting, in cult movies that came to be described and categorized as "psychotronic," though he was also somewhat embarrassed by the seriousness with which modern audiences embraced his beat poetry parodies in High School Confidential (and which, much to his puzzlement, recently surfaced on a compact-disc collection of actual Beat poetry). He had also resumed acting in the 1980s, including occasional voice-over work. Welles died of heart failure in 2005, at the age of 81. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
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  • The cast includes... Bob Hope Steve Martin Milton Berle Telly Savalas Richard Pryor Elliott Gould Madeline Kahn Orson Welles Cloris Leachman Mel Brooks Name that movie!  Answer »
  • Who had the role of Gravis Mushnik in The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)?  Answer »
  • What famous director narrated Mel Brooks' comedy film History of the World Part One?  Answer »

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