A law student at the University of Madrid, Fortunio Bonanova switched his major to music at Madrid's Real Conservatory and the Paris Conservatory. Bonanova inaugurated his operatic career as a baritone at the age of 17. By age 21 he was in films, producing, directing and starring in a silent production of Don Juan (1921). He spent most of the 1920s singing at the Paris opera and writing books, plays and short stories; he arrived in America in 1930 to co-star with Katherine Cornell on Broadway. At the invitation of his friend Orson Welles, Bononova portrayed the feverish singing teacher Signor Matisti in Welles' Citizen Kane (1941). Fortunio Bonanova remained gainfully employed in Hollywood as a character actor into the early 1960s.