Division of Archives and Records Service
RKO Radio Pictures vs Orson Welles et al 1946 Case file #77472 Cover Page

In our Index It’s All True

Heidi Stringham
January 16, 2018

Do you know someone famous or infamous? Perhaps you can find them in the 3rd District Court for Salt Lake County’s civil case file index.

Using this index, which is actually several smaller index books arranged by year, you can search the names of the plaintiff and the defendant in civil actions that occurred within the jurisdiction of Salt Lake County 3rd District Court from Statehood (1896) to 1968. Each action was assigned a case number and the cases include divorces and other civil matters. There are thousands of names indexed in these volumes.

While these indexes mostly include ordinary people, occasionally there are famous names, such as Orson Welles. Why would Orson Welles’ name be found in a civil case file index from Salt Lake City?

Orson Welles behind the camera Black & White photo

Orson Welles at work on The Magnificent Ambersons 1942

According to our records, RKO Radio Pictures sued Orson Welles in 1946 in the 3rd District Court for $200,000, RKO Radio Pictures operated during the “golden years” of Hollywood. They produced films such as Citizen Kane and held early contracts for the likes of film stars Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Due to the success of Orson Welles’ masterpiece Citizen Kane, RKO provided Welles $200,000 upfront to shoot three short films set in Brazil to be titled It’s All True.

This anthology film was never completed. Welles did actually create footage and some of this film shot in Brazil somehow made its way to Salt Lake City, hence the civil suit here. The 3rd District Court ordered the film to be sold at Sheriff’s auction and RKO bought the film back for another $200,000. UCLA’s Film and Television Archive preserves some of the original nitrate film, though most was dumped into the Pacific Ocean in the 1960s[1].

This is only one of many interesting cases that may be found in the 3rd District Court for Salt Lake County Civil Case Indexes.



[1] Catherine L.Benamou, It’s All True: Orson Welles’s Pan-American Odyssey, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007) cited in “It’s All True (film),” Wikipedia, last modified on November 17, 2017, accessed January 5, 2018,

Image Citations:

[1] 3rd District Court (Salt Lake County), Civil Case Files, Case 77472, Utah State Archives and Records Service, Series 1622.

[2] RKO Radio Pictures, Orson Welles at work on The Magnificent Ambersons by still photographer Alexander Kahle, Hollywood magazine, May 1942 (page 18), Public Domain,