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Mel Brooks Explains Blunder in Paying Orson Welles $25,000 For 'History of the World, Part I'

Wednesday marked the late Welles' birthday. He was born in 1915.
'History of the World, Part I' (Inset: Orson Welles)   |   Photofest; Inset: PIERRE GUILLAUD/AFP via Getty Images
Wednesday marked the late Welles' birthday. He was born in 1915.

Mel Brooks wanted no one other than the late Orson Welles to narrate his 1981 comedy History of the World, Part I, but said he made a mistake in the amount of money he paid to have it done. Wednesday marked Welles' birthday; he was born in 1915. 

In a 2015 interview, Brooks said he paid the legendary actor and filmmaker $25,000 to narrate his anthology comedy, believing it would take a week for the recording to be completed. He was wrong. 

"He was supposed to do five days of work, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., narrating scenes," Brooks explained. "He started to test his voice out about 10 [minutes] to 9 a.m. By 11:30 a.m., 12 o'clock, he had done all the narration. It was all perfect. He said, 'I'll do any changes, anything you want, Mel.' And I said, 'It's flat-out perfect. Oh my God. I could have paid you $5,000." 

Brooks joked it was too late to renegotiate the fee. "I got so angry that I paid him so much and he did it in ten minutes." 

When asked what he would be spending his cool $25,000 on, Welles responded, "Cuban cigars and Sevruga caviar. I would have included women, but I'm getting just a little too heavy for that kind of athletic endeavor." 

Welles died Oct. 10, 1985. He was 70.

Watch the entire segment below. 

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