Ambersons Character Profiles

                                   Some of the Players

         Eugene Morgan.....................................................Joseph Cotten

         George Amberson Minafer...................................Tim Holt

         Wilbur Minafer.....................................................Don Dillaway

         Isabel Amberson....................................................Dolores Costello

         Jack Amberson........................................................Ray Collins

         Fanny Minafer........................................................Agnes Moorehead

         Lucy Morgan...........................................................Anne Baxter

         Major Amberson......................................................Richard Bennett

 

In casting Ambersons, Welles was unconventional.  No major Hollywood stars were cast.   Joseph Cotten , Agnes Moorehead  and Ray Collins  were part of Welles' Mercury Theater, and had much more experience on radio than in feature films (though they were all in Citizen Kane)..  Tim Holt was an RKO actor who starred primarily in "B" Westerns.   Dolores Costello and Richard Bennett were both called out of retirement, and Anne Baxter had only played small parts in a few movies.    Don Dillaway had worked for years in film, but wasn't even credited for his role as Wilbur.

 

eugene2.jpg (12273 bytes)Eugene Morgan

played by Joseph Cotten

Eugene is an inventor and a pioneer in the automobile industry.  He is a widower and has a daughter, Lucy.  Eugene is rich, dashing, and elegant, and is well-liked by everyone except George Amberson.  Eugene is in love with Isabel, and lost the chance to marry her when he was a wild young man.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

george.jpg (30282 bytes)George Amberson Minafer

played by Tim Holt

George is the spoiled son of Isabel and Wilbur Minafer.   George is lofty and arrogant, expecting much out of life just by virtue of being an Amberson.  George is in love with Lucy Morgan, but hates her father Eugene.   Much of the movie revolves around George and his actions, which ultimately doom his entire family.  Everyone in town waits for George to receive his "comeuppance" in life.   By the time he receives it, no one cares, because by that time the Amberson name is no longer important.

 

 

 

isabel.jpg (13632 bytes)Isabel Amberson

played by Dolores Costello

Isabel Amberson is Major Amberson's only daughter.  Elegant and beautiful, she married the ordinary but respectable Wilbur Minafer, even though she was in love with Eugene Morgan.   People in the town gossiped that because she couldn't love Wilbur, all of her affection would be lavished on her son George.    After Wilbur's death, Isabel intends to marry Eugene, but because George feels that Eugene is beneath her socially, she sets aside her desires and continues to serve George's wishes.  In the last years of her life she travels abroad with George and becomes ill,  and wants desperately to come home, but will not because of George's influence.  She eventually does return home and dies soon afterwards without having the opportunity to see Eugene again.  

 

 

 

wilbur.jpg (11629 bytes)Wilbur Minafer

played by Don Dillaway

"Wilbur Minafer...quiet man...town'll hardly know he's gone".  This is what was said about Wilbur after he died.  Wilbur was a steady young businessman when he was courting Isabel.   Wilbur doesn't say much in the movie, and he's portrayed as being quite dull and ordinary, the antithesis of Eugene.  He shows his catty side once, however, by making a snide remark to Isabel about how easily she acquired her wealth. 

 

 

 

 

fanny.jpg (29649 bytes)Fanny Minafer

played by Agnes Moorehead

Fanny is Wilbur Minafer's sister.   After Wilbur marries Isabel, Fanny moves into the Amberson mansion to enjoy wealth and privilege.  Fanny is in love with Eugene, though he sees Fanny as just a friend.  Fanny is the first to tell George that Eugene is in love with Isabel and that people in town is talking about it.  George is enraged by this 'scandal', and sets in motion a plan to prevent Eugene and Isabel from being together.   Presumably, Fanny hopes that Eugene will pursue her, but this doesn't happen.  Fanny remains alone and eventually becomes destitute, having lost her money along with Jack and Major Amberson, investing in a failed electric headlight scheme.

 

 

major.jpg (12538 bytes)Major Amberson

played by Richard Bennett

Major Amberson is the partiarch of the Amberson family, though he defer's to Isabel's wishes.  He is much admired by the town, but ends up losing his fortune and his prestige due to George's extravagant spending and to several bad investments.   

 

 

 

 

 

jack.jpg (19196 bytes)Jack Amberson

played by Ray Collins

Jack Amberson in the Major's son.  He is a congressman and Eugene's friend.  Although he is very fond of his nephew George, he is mystified by George's treatment of Eugene.  Jack is full of life and Amberson charm.  Like the rest of the Ambersons, however, he suffers financial ruin.  (note that in the novel, Jack's character is named Uncle George)

 

 

 

 

lucy.jpg (40337 bytes)Lucy Morgan

played by Anne Baxter

Pretty Lucy Morgan appears in town with her father Eugene and is immediately attracted to George.   She refuses to marry him however because of George's low opinion of her father.   Even after George and Lucy break up, Lucy remains in love with the insufferable George.  Later, when George is hospitalized after being hit by a car, Lucy goes to be with him, and will presumably reconcile with the now humble George.