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Joseph Cotten in 1942
Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr.
May 15, 1905
Petersburg, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||February 6, 1994 (aged 88)|
|Burial place||Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Awards||Volpi Cup for Best Actor:|
1949 Portrait of Jennie
Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr. (May 15, 1905 – February 6, 1994) was an American film, stage, radio and television actor. Cotten achieved prominence on Broadway, starring in the original stage productions of The Philadelphia Story and Sabrina Fair.
He first gained worldwide fame in three Orson Welles films: Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), and Journey into Fear (1943), for which Cotten was also credited with the screenplay. He went on to become one of the leading Hollywood actors of the 1940s, appearing in films such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Love Letters (1945), Duel in the Sun (1946), Portrait of Jennie (1948), The Third Man (1949) and Niagara (1953). One of his final films was Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate (1980).
Joseph Cotten was born in 1905 in Petersburg, Virginia, the first of three sons born to Joseph Cheshire Cotten, Sr., an assistant postmaster, and Sally Willson Cotten.:224 He grew up in the Tidewater region and showed an aptitude for drama and a gift for storytelling.
In 1923, when Cotten was 18, his family arranged for him to receive private lessons at the Hickman School of Expression in Washington, D.C., and underwrote his expenses.
Cotten earned spending money playing professional football on Sundays, for $25 a quarter. After graduation, he earned enough money as a lifeguard at Wilcox Lake to pay back his family's loan, with interest.:4–7
He moved to Miami in 1925 and worked as an advertising salesman for The Miami Herald at $35 a week. He started performing at the Miami Civic Theatre, and worked there for five years, also reviewing the shows for the Herald.
Cotten moved to New York and went to work for David Belasco as an assistant stage manager. He understudied Melvyn Douglas in Tonight or Never then took over Douglas' role for the Copley Theatre in Boston, where he worked on over 30 plays.
Cotten struggled to find work in the depression so turned to modeling and acting in industrial films. He also performed on radio. Cotten made his Broadway debut in 1932 in Absent Friends which ran for 88 performances.
He was in Loose Moments which ran for 8 performances.
In 1934, Cotten met and became friends with Orson Welles, a fellow cast member on CBS Radio's The American School of the Air.:30–31 Welles regarded Cotten as a brilliant comic actor,:166 and gave him the starring role in his Federal Theatre Project farce, Horse Eats Hat:34 (September 26 – December 5, 1936).:334 Cotten was sure that Horse Eats Hat won him the notice of his future Broadway co-star, Katharine Hepburn.:34
Cotten said Welles later told him "You're very lucky to be tall and thin and have curly hair. You can also move about the stage without running into the furniture. But these are fringe assets, and I'm afraid you'll never make it as an actor. But as a star, I think you well might hit the jackpot." 
Cotten made his film debut in the Welles-directed short, Too Much Johnson, a comedy that was intended to complement the aborted 1938 Mercury stage production of William Gillette's 1890 play. The film was never screened in public and was lost until 2013.
Cotten returned to Broadway in 1939, creating the role of C. K. Dexter Haven opposite Katharine Hepburn's Tracy Lord in the original production of Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story. The play ran for 417 performances at the Shubert Theatre, and in the months before its extensive national tour a film version was to be made by MGM. Cotten went to Hollywood, but discovered there that his stage success in The Philadelphia Story translated to, in the words of his agent Leland Hayward, "spending a solid year creating the Cary Grant role." Hayward suggested that they call Cotten's good pal, Orson Welles. "He's been making big waves out here," Hayward said. "Maybe nobody in Hollywood ever heard of the Shubert Theatre in New York, but everybody certainly knows about the Mercury Theatre in New York.":34–37
After the success of Welles's War of the Worlds 1938 Halloween radio broadcast, Welles gained a unique contract with RKO Pictures. The two-picture deal promised full creative control for the young director below an agreed budget limit, and Welles's intention was to feature the Mercury Players in his productions. Shooting had still not begun on a Welles film after a year, but after a meeting with writer Herman J. Mankiewicz Welles had a suitable project.
In mid-1940, filming began on Citizen Kane, portraying the life of a press magnate (played by Welles) who starts out as an idealist but eventually turns into a corrupt, lonely old man. The film featured Cotten prominently in the role of Kane's best friend Jedediah Leland, eventually a drama critic for one of Kane's papers.
When released on May 1, 1941, Citizen Kane — based in part on the life of William Randolph Hearst — did not do much business at theaters; Hearst owned numerous major newspapers, and forbade them to carry advertisements for the film. Nominated for nine Academy Awards in 1942, the film won only for Best Screenplay, for Mankiewicz and Welles. Citizen Kane launched the film careers of the Mercury Players, including Agnes Moorehead (who played Kane's mother), Ruth Warrick (Kane's first wife), and Ray Collins (Kane's political opponent). However, Cotten was the only one of the four to find major success as a lead in Hollywood outside of Citizen Kane; Moorehead and Collins became successful character film actors and Warrick spent decades in a career in daytime television.
Alexander Korda then hired Cotten to play Merle Oberon's leading man in Lydia (1941). "I didn't care about the movies, really," Cotten said later. "I was tall. I had curly hair. I could talk. It was easy to do."
Cotten starred in Welles's adaptation and production of The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). After the commercial disappointment of Citizen Kane, RKO was apprehensive about the new film, and after poor preview responses, cut it by nearly an hour before its release. Though at points the film appeared disjointed, it was well received by critics. Despite the critical accolades Cotten received for his performance, he was again snubbed by the Academy.
Cotten was cast in the Nazi-related thriller Journey into Fear (1943) based on the novel by Eric Ambler. It was originally scripted by Ben Hecht but Welles, who was supervising, disliked it, and he rewrote it with Cotten. Released by RKO, the Mercury production was directed by Norman Foster. It was a collaborative effort due to the difficulties shooting the film and the pressures related to Welles's imminent departure to South America to begin work on It's All True.:165, 377
Alfred Hitchcock hired Cotten to play a charming serial killer in Shadow of a Doubt (1943). It was made for Universal Pictures, who for whom Cotten then appeared in Hers to Hold (1943), as Deanna Durbin's leading man.
After Welles's return he and Cotten co-produced The Mercury Wonder Show for members of the U.S. armed services. Opening August 3, 1943, the all-star magic and variety show was presented in a tent at 9000 Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood. Featured were Welles (Orson the Magnificent), Cotten (Jo-Jo the Great), Rita Hayworth (forced to quit by Columbia Pictures boss Harry Cohn and replaced by Marlene Dietrich), Agnes Moorehead (Calliope Aggie) and others. Tickets were free to servicemen, and more than 48,000 of them had seen show by September 1943.:177, 377–378
In late 1943, Cotten visited Welles's office and said that producer David O. Selznick wanted to make two or three films with him, but that he wanted him under his own contract. Welles then tore up Cotten's contract with Mercury Productions, saying, "He can do more for you than I can. Good luck!":186 Cotten signed a long term deal with Selznick.
Selnick loaned out Cotten and Ingrid Bergman to MGM for the thriller Gaslight (1944) which was a major hit. Selznick then put Cotten in a wartime drama Since You Went Away (1944) alongside Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple; it was another major success.
Selznick followed this up by teaming Cotten with Ginger Rogers and Temple in I'll Be Seeing You (1945), another melodrama. Hal Wallis borrowed Cotten and Jones to make Love Letters (1945). Exhibitors voted him the 17th most popular star in the United States in 1945.
Dore Schary, who had worked for Selznick, went to run RKO and hired Cotten for The Farmer's Daughter (1947), where he was Loretta Young's leading man. Cotten then made Portrait of Jennie (1948) for Selznick, co starring with Jones; Cotten played a melancholy artist who becomes obsessed with a girl who might have died many years before. His performance won Cotten the International Prize for Best Actor at the 1949 Venice International Film Festival. 
Cotten was reunited with Welles in The Third Man (1949), produced by Korda and Selznick. Cotten portrays a writer of pulp fiction who travels to postwar Vienna to meet his friend Harry Lime (Welles). When he arrives, he is told that Lime has died. Determined to prove to the police that his friend was murdered, he uncovers an even darker secret.
Cotten then reunited with Hitchcock and Ingrid Bergman in Under Capricorn (1949) as an Australian landowner with a shady past; it was a box office disappointment. So too was Beyond the Forest (1949) with Bette Davis at Warner Bros.
Cotten co-starred with Joan Fontaine in September Affair (1950) for Hal Wallis. Selznick loaned him to 20th Century Fox for the dark Civil War Western Two Flags West (1950), then to RKO for Walk Softly, Stranger (1950, shot in 1948) which reunited him with Alida Valli from The Third Man. It was a huge flop.
At Fox he did Half Angel (1951) with Young, then did another with Wallis at Paramount, Peking Express (1951) and went to MGM for The Man with a Cloak (1951) with Barbara Stanwyck. He had a cameo in Welles' Othello (1951).
Cotten did a Western at Universal, Untamed Frontier (1953), during the filming of which he was injured. He did a thriller for Andrew L. Stone, The Steel Trap (1952), which reunited with Teresa Wright from Shadow of a Doubt.
On the stage in 1953, Cotten created the role of Linus Larrabee, Jr., in the original Broadway production of Sabrina Fair, opposite Margaret Sullavan. The production ran November 11, 1953 – August 21, 1954, and was the basis of the Billy Wilder film Sabrina, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. He and Sullivan did a TV production of State of the Union for Producers' Showcase directed by Arthur Penn.
Cotten made Special Delivery (1955) in West Germany, did a TV adaptation of Broadway for The Best of Broadway (1955) directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. He appeared in episodes of Celebrity Playhouse, The Ford Television Theatre, Star Stage, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (several times) and General Electric Theater.
In 1955 Cotten hosted The 20th Century Fox Hour on television.
He guest starred on Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre, Telephone Time, Playhouse 90, Schlitz Playhouse, Zane Grey Theater, Suspicion, and Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse. He made a cameo appearance in Welles'sTouch of Evil (1958) and a starring role in the film adaptation of Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (also 1958).
Cotten had another success on Broadway when he appeared in Once More, With Feeling (1958-60) which ran for 263 performances. For the third time Cotten was in a Broadway hit but did not reprise his role in the film version - Yul Brynner did.
Cotten had a supporting role in the films The Angel Wore Red (1960) and The Last Sunset (1961), the latter directed by Robert Aldrich, and guest starred on The DuPont Show with June Allyson, Checkmate, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Bus Stop, Theatre '62 (an adaptation of Notorious), Dr. Kildare, Wagon Train, and Saints and Sinners.
Cotten returned to Broadway to appear in Calculated Risk (1962-63), which ran for 221 performances and meant he had to turn down a role in a film Harrigan's Halo. He guest starred on The Great Adventure, and 77 Sunset Strip, and did the pilot Alexander the Great (1963).
Cotten was top billed in The Great Sioux Massacre (1965) and The Tramplers (1965), but back to support parts for The Money Trap (1965) and The Oscar (1966). He was top billed in Brighty of the Grand Canyon (1966), directed by Foster, The Cruel Ones (1967), Some May Live (1967) and Gangsters '70 (1968).
He guest starred on Cimarron Strip, Ironside, and Journey to the Unknown and had a support role in Jack of Diamonds (1967). He had the lead in White Comanche (1968) and Latitude Zero (1969) (shot in Japan with his wife) and supported in the TV movies The Lonely Profession (1969), Cutter's Trail (1970).
Cotten was in The Name of the Game, It Takes a Thief, NET Playhouse, The Grasshopper (1970), Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Virginian, Assault on the Wayne (1971), Do You Take This Stranger? (1971), City Beneath the Sea (1971), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Lady Frankenstein (1971), and The Screaming Woman (1972) with de Havilland.
He had lead roles in Doomsday Voyage (1972), Baron Blood (1972), and The Scopone Game (1973) and was in The Devil's Daughter (1973), The Streets of San Francisco, Soylent Green (1973), A Delicate Balance (1973), The Rockford Files, Syndicate Sadists (1975), The Timber Tramps (1975), The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976), A Whisper in the Dark (1976), Origins of the Mafia (1976), Twilight's Last Gleaming (1977) for Aldrich, Airport '77, Aspen (1977), The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Last In, First Out (1978), Caravans (1978), Indagine su un delitto perfetto (1978), Screamers (1979), Concorde Affaire '79 (1979), Guyana: Cult of the Damned (1979), Churchill and the Generals (1979), Tales of the Unexpected and Fantasy Island. 
"I was in a lot of junk," he admitted later. "I get nervous when I don't work."
Cotten's final performances included The Hearse (1980), Casino (1980), Heaven's Gate (1980), The Love Boat (1981), The Survivor (1981), shot in Australia, and Delusion (1981). Cotten suffered a stroke in 1981 which caused him to temporarily lose his voice.
On June 8, 1981, Cotten experienced a heart attack followed by a stroke that affected his brain's speech center. He began years of therapy which in time made it possible for him to speak again. As he began to recover, he and Orson Welles talked on the phone each week for a couple of hours. "He was strong and supportive," Cotten wrote, "and whenever I used the wrong word (which was frequently) he would say, 'That's a much better word, Jo, I'm going to use it.'" He and Welles would meet for lunch and reminisce, and when Cotten said he had written a book Welles asked for the manuscript and read it that same night.:215–217
In a phone conversation on October 9, 1985, Welles told his friend and mentor Roger Hill that Cotten had written a book, and Hill asked how it read. "Gentle, witty, and self-effacing, just like Jo," Welles replied. "My only complaint is that it's too brief." Welles died the following day. "Somewhere among his possessions is a manuscript of this book," Cotten wrote on the last page of his autobiography, published in 1987 under the title Vanity Will Get You Somewhere.:217
At the 10th Venice International Film Festival, Cotten was given the Volpi Cup for Best Actor for his performance in the film Portrait of Jennie (1948). He was also given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960.
|October 17, 1932 – January 1933||Absent Father||Larry||Vanderbilt Theatre, New York|
|December 19, 1933 – January 1934||Jezebel||Dick Ashley||Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York|
|February 4 – February 1934||Loose Moments||Ralph Merkes||Vanderbilt Theatre, New York|
|September 26 – December 5, 1936||Horse Eats Hat||Freddy||Maxine Elliott Theatre, New York:334|
|January 8 – April 1, 1937||Faustus||2nd Scholar||Maxine Elliott Theatre, New York:335–336|
|April 21–23, 1937||The Second Hurricane||Airplane pilot:33||Henry Street Settlement, New York City:337|
|November 11, 1937 – May 28, 1938||Caesar||Publius||Mercury Theatre, New York:339–340|
Moved to the larger National Theatre January 24, 1938:341
|December 25, 1937||The Shoemaker's Holiday||Rowland Lacy||Mercury Theatre, New York|
Surprise preview performance immediately following Caesar:332
|January 1 – April 28, 1938||The Shoemaker's Holiday||Rowland Lacy||Mercury Theatre, New York|
Moved to the National Theatre January 26, 1938:341
|August 16–29, 1938||Too Much Johnson||Augustus Billings||Stony Creek Theatre, Stony Creek, Connecticut:50–51, 152–153|
|November 2–19, 1938||Danton's Death||Barrere||Mercury Theatre, New York|
|March 28, 1939 – March 30, 1940||The Philadelphia Story||C. K. Dexter Haven||Shubert Theatre, New York|
|November 11, 1953 – August 21, 1954||Sabrina Fair||Linus Larrabee, Jr.||National Theatre, New York|
Moved to the Royale Theatre May 17, 1954
|1934||The American School of the Air||Repertory cast||:331|
|July 14 – September 22, 1935||America's Hour||Repertory cast||:30|
|1935||Farm Tenancy||Resettlement Administration drama|
|November 14, 1936||Columbia Workshop||"Hamlet"|
|May 9, 1937||The Second Hurricane||Airplane pilot||One-hour broadcast on CBS Radio:34|
|September 5, 1938||The Mercury Theatre on the Air||Dr. Bull||"The Man Who Was Thursday":345:50|
|October 9, 1938||The Mercury Theatre on the Air||"Hell on Ice":346|
|October 16, 1938||The Mercury Theatre on the Air||Genesis||"Seventeen":346:52|
|December 3, 1938||The Campbell Playhouse||Fred||"A Christmas Carol":348:53|
|January 6, 1939||The Campbell Playhouse||"Counsellor-at-Law":348|
|January 13, 1939||The Campbell Playhouse||Fletcher Christian||"Mutiny on the Bounty":349|
|January 20, 1939||The Campbell Playhouse||"The Chicken Wagon Family":349|
|January 27, 1939||The Campbell Playhouse||Riley||"I Lost My Girlish Laughter":53|
|September 17, 1939||The Campbell Playhouse||"Ah, Wilderness!":354|
|October 22, 1939||The Campbell Playhouse||The Cashier||"Liliom":58|
|1939–40||The Career of Alice Blair||Male lead||:138–139|
|February 11, 1940||The Campbell Playhouse||"Mr. Deeds Goes to Town":61|
|September 22, 1941||Lux Radio Theatre||Michael Fitzpatrick||"Lydia"|
|October 6, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:367|
|October 13, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:367|
|October 20, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:367|
|November 10, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:367|
|December 1, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:368|
|December 7, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:368|
|December 22, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:368|
|December 29, 1941||The Orson Welles Show||:368|
|March 22, 1942||The Silver Theatre||Jim Emerson||"Only Yesterday"|
|November 23, 1942||Ceiling Unlimited||"The Navigator":375|
|December 21, 1942||Ceiling Unlimited||"Gremlins":374|
|December 28, 1942||Ceiling Unlimited||"Pan American Airlines"|
|January 17, 1943||Hello Americans||"Feed the World":376|
|February 1, 1943||Cavalcade of America||"To the Shores of Tripoli"|
|May 24, 1943||The Screen Guild Theater||Uncle Charlie||"Shadow of a Doubt"|
|June 28, 1943||Lux Radio Theatre||"The Great Man's Lady"|
|August 8, 1943 – April 30, 1944||America — Ceiling Unlimited||Host||Weekly half-hour variety series|
|December 6, 1943||The Screen Guild Theater||Jim Emerson||"Only Yesterday"|
|March 23, 1944||Suspense||"Sneak Preview"|
|May 8, 1944||Lux Radio Theatre||Roger Adams||"Penny Serenade"|
|June 5, 1944||Cavalcade of America||"Treason"|
|September 14, 1944||Suspense||"You'll Never See Me Again"|
|November 6, 1944||Democratic National Committee Program||Election-eve political broadcast|
|November 13, 1944||The Screen Guild Theater||Johnny Case||"Holiday"|
|November 26, 1944||The Harold Lloyd Comedy Theatre||"Clarence"|
|February 1, 1945||Suspense||"The Most Dangerous Game"|
|February 6, 1945||A Date with Judy||Guest||"The Strange Case of Joseph Cotten"|
|April 30, 1945||The Screen Guild Theater||Alessandro||"Ramona"|
|June 4, 1945||Lux Radio Theatre||Holger Brandt||"Intermezzo"|
|June 15, 1945||Weapon for Tomorrow||"Freedom of Information"|
|September 18, 1945||Theater of Romance||Nathan Hale||"One Life to Lose"|
|September 20, 1945||The Birdseye Open House||Guest|||
|September 27, 1945||Suspense||"The Earth Is Made of Glass"|
|October 11, 1945||Suspense||"Beyond Good and Evil"|
|November 26, 1945||The Screen Guild Theater||Richard Kurt||"Biography of a Bachelor Girl"|
|December 24, 1945||Lux Radio Theatre||Zachary Morgan||"I'll Be Seeing You"|
|January 17, 1946||Suspense||"The Pasteboard Box"|
|February 10, 1946||The Radio Reader's Digest||"Ultimate Security"|
|April 22, 1946||Lux Radio Theatre||Alan Quinton||"Love Letters"|
|May 2, 1946||Suspense||"Crime Without Passion"|
|July 24, 1946||Academy Award Theatre||"Foreign Correspondent"|
|September 11, 1946||Academy Award Theatre||"Shadow of a Doubt"|
|September 24, 1946||The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players||Lou Gehrig||"The Pride of the Yankees"|
|October 1, 1946||The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players||Max de Winter||"Rebecca"|
|November 4, 1946||Lux Radio Theatre||"I've Always Loved You"|
|December 5, 1946||The Radio Reader's Digest||"The Hard-Boiled Reporter and the Miracle"|
|December 16, 1946||The Screen Guild Theater||Michael||"This Love of Ours"|
|December 19, 1946||Suspense||"The Thing in the Window"|
|December 25, 1946||The Cresta Blanca Hollywood Players||"All Through the House"|
|January 27, 1947||The Screen Guild Theater||"Swell Guy"|
|March 5, 1947||The Eagle's Brood||Documentary on juvenile delinquency|
|May 15, 1947||The Radio Reader's Digest||"Halfway to Reno"|
|May 19, 1947||Cavalcade of America||"Witness by Moonlight"|
|September 15, 1947||Lux Radio Theatre||Nicholas||"The Seventh Veil"|
|October 26, 1947||Hollywood Fights Back|||
|January 5, 1948||Lux Radio Theatre||Glenn Morley||"The Farmer's Daughter"|
|January 26, 1948||Lux Radio Theatre||Devlin||"Notorious"|
|February 12, 1948||The Radio Reader's Digest||"The Baron of Arizona"|
|March 8, 1948||Lux Radio Theatre||John Ballantyne||"Spellbound"|
|April 11, 1948||The Eternal Light||"The Man Who Remembered Lincoln"|
|June 21, 1948||The Screen Guild Theater||Uncle Charlie||"Shadow of a Doubt"|
|May 9, 1949||Lux Radio Theatre||Anthony Keane||"The Paradine Case"|
|May 15, 1949||The Prudential Family Hour of Stars||"Breakdown"|
|June 30, 1949||Suspense||"The Day I Died"|
|October 24, 1946||Screen Directors Playhouse||Alan Quinton||"Love Letters"|
|October 31, 1949||Lux Radio Theatre||Eben Adams||"Portrait of Jennie"|
|March 10, 1950||Screen Directors Playhouse||Eben Adams||"Portrait of Jennie"|
|March 15, 1950||Family Theater||"Germelshausen"|
|March 30, 1950||Suspense||"Blood Sacrifice"|
|June 11, 1950||Guest Star||"Portrait of a Small Gentleman"|
|September 28, 1950||Suspense||"Fly by Night"|
|October 9, 1950||Hollywood Star Playhouse||"Of Night and the River"|
|November 30, 1950||Screen Directors Playhouse||"Mrs. Mike"|
|January 2, 1951||Cavalcade of America||"An American from France"|
|January 7, 1951||Theatre Guild on the Air||Holly Martins||"The Third Man"|
|January 25, 1951||Screen Directors Playhouse||"Spellbound"|
|February 15, 1951||Hallmark Playhouse||"A Man for All Ages"|
|April 9, 1951||Lux Radio Theatre||Holly Martins||"The Third Man"|
|September 30, 1951||Theatre Guild on the Air||"Main Street"|
|October 2, 1951||Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway||"Angel Street"|
|October 18, 1951||Hallmark Playhouse||"Cashel Byron's Profession"|
|November 5, 1951||Suspense||"The Trials of Thomas Shaw"|
|January 24, 1952||Stars in the Air||"Enchantment"|
|January 28, 1952||Suspense||"Carnival"|
|January 31, 1952||Hallmark Playhouse||"Westward Ho"|
|March 6, 1952||Hallmark Playhouse||"Man Without a Home"|
|March 10, 1952||Suspense||"A Watery Grave"|
|March 16, 1952||Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway||"In a Lonely Place"|
|March 27, 1952||The Screen Guild Theater||"Night Must Fall"|
|September 7, 1952||Hollywood Star Playhouse||"The Tenth Planet"|
|September 14, 1952||Theatre Guild On the Air||"The Wisteria Tree"|
|October 12, 1952||Hallmark Playhouse||"Young Mr. Disraeli"|
|December 22, 1952||Suspense||"Arctic Rescue"|
|December 28, 1952||Hallmark Playhouse||"A Man Called Peter"|
|January 11, 1953||Theatre Guild On the Air||"Jane"|
|January 14, 1953||Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway||"Hold Back the Dawn"|
|January 18, 1953||Theatre Guild on the Air||"Trial by Forgery"|
|January 26, 1953||Lux Radio Theatre||David Lawrence||"September Affair"|
|March 1, 1953||The Bakers' Theater of Stars||"The Mango Tree"|
|March 30, 1953||Suspense||"Tom Dooley"|
|June 16, 1953||The Martin and Lewis Show||Guest|||
|July 6, 1953||Lux Radio Theatre||Jim Warlock||"Cynara"|
|August 3, 1953||Lux Radio Theatre||"Romance to a Degree"|
|August 26, 1953||Philip Morris Playhouse on Broadway||"Love Letters"|
|September 14, 1953||Lux Radio Theatre||Jim Osborne||"The Steel Trap"|
|October 14, 1953||Radio Playhouse||Narrator||"Routine Assignment"|
|October 24, 1953||The Grand Alliance||United Nations Day broadcast|
|May 15, 1954||Salute to Eugene O'Neill||Narrator||All-star benefit for cerebral palsy|
|December 15, 1957||Suspense||"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"|
|August 2, 1959||Suspense||"Red Cloud Mesa"|
|1937||Seeing the World: Part One - A Visit to New York, N.Y.||Short|
|1938||Too Much Johnson||Augustus Billings|||
|1940||Citizen Kane trailer||Himself, Jedediah "Jed" Leland||Short:360|
|1941||Citizen Kane||Jed Leland / Screening Room Reporter|||
|1942||The Magnificent Ambersons||Eugene Morgan|||
|1943||Journey into Fear||Howard Graham||Screenplay (with uncredited Orson Welles)|
|1943||Shadow of a Doubt||Uncle Charles Oakley|||
|1943||Hers to Hold||Bill Morley|||
|1944||Since You Went Away||Lieutenant Tony Willett|||
|1944||I'll Be Seeing You||Zachary Morgan|||
|1945||Love Letters||Alan Quinton|||
|1946||Duel in the Sun||Jesse McCanles|||
|1947||The Farmer's Daughter||Glenn Morley|||
|1948||Portrait of Jennie||Eben Adams||Venice Film Festival Award for Best Actor|
|1949||The Third Man||Holly Martins|||
|1949||Under Capricorn||Sam Flusky|||
|1949||Beyond the Forest||Dr. Lewis Moline|||
|1950||September Affair||David Lawrence|||
|1950||Two Flags West||Col. Clay Tucker|||
|1950||Walk Softly, Stranger||Chris Hale||Shot in 1948|
|1951||Half Angel||John Raymond, Jr.|||
|1951||Peking Express||Michael Bachlin|||
|1951||The Man with a Cloak||Dupin|||
|1952||The Wild Heart||Narrator|||
|1952||Untamed Frontier||Kirk Denbow|||
|1952||The Steel Trap||James Osborne|||
|1953||Egypt by Three||Narrator|
|1953||A Blueprint for Murder||Whitney Cameron|||
|1955||Special Delivery||John Adams|||
|1955||Bedevilled||Flight announcer at the airport||Voice, Uncredited|
|1956||The Bottom of the Bottle||P.M. Martin|||
|1956||The Killer Is Loose||Detective Sam Wagner|||
|1957||The Halliday Brand||Daniel Halliday|||
|1958||Touch of Evil||Coroner||Uncredited|
|1958||From the Earth to the Moon||Victor Barbicane|||
|1960||The Angel Wore Red||Hawthorne|||
|1961||The Last Sunset||John Breckenridge|||
|1963||Alexander the Great||Antigonus||TV movie|
|1964||Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte||Dr. Drew Bayliss|||
|1965||The Great Sioux Massacre||Major Reno|||
|1965||The Money Trap||Dr. Horace Van Tilden|||
|1965||The Tramplers||Temple Cordeen|||
|1966||The Oscar||Kenneth H. Regan|||
|1966||Brighty of the Grand Canyon||Jim Owen|||
|1967||The Hellbenders||Col. Jonas|||
|1967||Some May Live||Col. Woodward|
|1967||Jack of Diamonds||Ace of Diamonds|||
|1968||Days of Fire||Destil|
|1968||White Comanche||Sheriff Logan|
|1969||The Lonely Profession||Martin Bannister||TV movie|
|1970||Cutter's Trail||General Spalding||TV movie; failed series pilot|
|1970||The Grasshopper||Richard Morgan|||
|1970||Tora! Tora! Tora!||Henry L. Stimson|||
|1971||Assault on the Wayne||Admiral||TV movie|
|1971||Do You Take This Stranger?||Dr. Robert Carson||TV movie|
|1971||City Beneath the Sea||Dr. Ziegler||TV movie|
|1971||Journey to Murder||Jeff Wheeler||Two 1968 episodes from the UK anthology TV series Journey to the Unknown|
|1971||The Abominable Dr. Phibes||Dr. Vesalius|||
|1971||Lady Frankenstein||Dr. Frankenstein|
|1972||The Screaming Woman||George Tresvant||TV movie|
|1972||Doomsday Voyage||Captain Jason|||
|1972||Baron Blood||Baron Otto von Kleist / Alfred Becker|
|1972||The Scientific Cardplayer||George|
|1973||The Devil's Daughter||Judge Weatherby||TV movie|
|1973||Soylent Green||William R. Simonson|||
|1973||F for Fake||Special Participant|
|1973||A Delicate Balance||Harry|||
|1975||Timber Tramps||Greedy sawmill mogul|
|1976||The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case||Dr. Joseph Francis Condon||TV movie|
|1976||A Whisper in the Dark||The Professor|
|1976||Freedom Is||Voice||TV movie|
|1977||Twilight's Last Gleaming||Secretary of State Arthur Renfrew|||
|1977||Airport '77||Nicholas St. Downs III|||
|1977||Aspen||Horton Paine||TV movie|
|1978||Last In, First Out||Foster Johnson|
|1978||The Perfect Crime||Sir Arthur Dundee|
|1979||Island of the Fishmen||Prof. Ernest Marvin|
|1979||The Concorde Affair||Milland|
|1979||Guyana: Crime of the Century||Richard Gable|
|1979||Churchill and the Generals||General George Marshall||TV movie|
|1980||The Hearse||Walter Pritchard|||
|1980||Casino||Ed Booker||TV movie|
|1980||Heaven's Gate||The Reverend Doctor|||
|1981||The Survivor||Priest||(final film role)|
|1954||Producers' Showcase||Grant Matthews||"State of the Union"|
|1954||General Electric Theater||Hanley||"The High Green Wall"|
|1955||The Best of Broadway||Dan McCorn||"Broadway"|
|1955||Celebrity Playhouse||Marshal Fenton Lockhart||"Showdown at San Pablo"|
|1955||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||William Callew||"Breakdown"|
|"The Man in the Black Robe"|
"The U.S. vs. Alexander Holmes"
|1956||The Ford Television Theatre||John Ashburn||"Man Without a Fear"|
|1956||General Electric Theater||Captain
|"H.M.S. Marlborough Will Enter Port"|
|1956–1959||The Joseph Cotten Show||Various roles|
|1957||Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theater||Bruce Malone||"Contact"|
|1957||Telephone Time||Lt. Cmdr. Joseph P. Fyffe||"The Man the Navy Couldn't Sink"|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Robert Rainey||"The Edge of Innocence"|
|1958||Zane Grey Theatre||Ben Harper||"Man Unforgiving"|
|1958||Suspicion||Gregg Carey||"The Eye of Truth"|
|1958||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Tony Gould||"Together"|
|1959||Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse||Black McSween||"The Day the Town Stood Up"|
|1959||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Courtney Masterson||"Dead Weight"|
|1960||The DuPont Show with June Allyson||Dick Burlingame
|"The Blue Goose"|
|1960||Checkmate||Dr. George Mallinson||"Face in the Window"|
|1961||The Barbara Stanwyck Show||Mac McClay||"The Hitch-Hiker"|
|1961||Bus Stop||Professor Wheelright||"Cherie"|
|1961||Theatre '62||Alex Sebastian||"Notorious"|
|1961||Wagon Train||Captain Dan Brady||"The Captain Dan Brady Story"|
|1962||Dr. Kildare||Charles Ladovan||"The Administrator"|
|1962||Saints and Sinners||Preston Cooper||"The Man on the Rim"|
|1961||Wagon Train||John Augustus||"The John Augustus Story"|
|1963||The Great Adventure||Captain Meehan||"The Death of Sitting Bull"|
"The Massacre at Wounded Knee"
|1963||77 Sunset Strip||Arnold Buhler||"By His Own Verdict"|
|1963–1964||Hollywood and the Stars||Narrator||31 episodes|
|1967||Cimarron Strip||Nathan Tio||"The Search"|
|1968||Ironside||Dr. Benjamin Stern||"Split Second to an Epitaph"|
|1968||It Takes a Thief||Col. Heinrich||"Hans Across the Border"|
|1968||Journey to the Unknown||"Do Me a Favour and Kill Me" (UK)|
|1969||Latitude Zero||Capt. Craig McKenzie|||
|1969–1970||It Takes a Thief||Mr. Jack||"To Lure a Man"|
"To Sing a Song of Murder"
"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"
|1970||The Name of the Game||Henry Worthington Rayner||"The King of Denmark"|
|1970||The Virginian||Judge Will McMasters
|"A Time of Terror"|
|1971||NET Playhouse||Narrator||"Trail of Tears"|
|1973||The Streets of San Francisco||John R. James||"A Collection of Eagles"|
|1974||The Rockford Files||Warner Jameson||"This Case is Closed"|
|1976||Origins of the Mafia||The Envoy||Miniseries; "Gli antenati"|
|1978||The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries||Weldon Rathbone||"Arson and Old Lace"|
|1978||Fantasy Island||Simon Grant||"Return to Fantasy Island"|
|1979||Fantasy Island||Thomas Cummings||"The Wedding"|
|1979–1980||Tales of the Unexpected||Edward
|"Edward the Conqueror"|
"Depart in Peace"
|1981||The Love Boat||Col. van Ryker||"The Duel"|
Two for Julie"
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joseph Cotten.|