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).
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. In 1990, Cotten’s larynx was removed due to cancer. He died on February 6, 1994, of pneumonia, at the age of 88. He was buried at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia.