Joseph Cotten, in full Joseph Cheshire Cotten, (born May 15, 1905, Petersburg, Virginia, U.S.—died February 6, 1994, Westwood, California), American actor whose elegant mannerisms, handsome looks, and low-key yet compelling dramatic performances earned him both popular and critical acclaim. He was best known for his roles in several film classics of the 1940s, particularly those directed by Orson Welles.
Joseph Cheshire Cotten Jr. 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), Gaslight (1944), 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).