October 25, 2010

Halloween 1938, Orson Welles radio broadcast "War of the Worlds" classic

Occurring before the Baby Boomer birth years, Orson Welles' grand hoax radio broadcast, "War of the Worlds" remains an all time Halloween classic. 
Orson Welles is an icon to boomers from many classic movies of our time, such as "Citizen Kane", which has been hailed as one of the best movies ever made.

On October 30, 1938, Welles, the host and creator of a drama based radio program called, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, broadcast a live dramatic adaptation of the H.G. Wells' novel, "The War of the Worlds", about the invasion of planet Earth by creatures from Mars. The event was taken seriously by thousands of people all over the country and caused a great deal of panic. Of course much of the panic was over-hyped, but as many may have not heard the introductions of the show, they thought it was real. The program did not have commercial interruptions, making it seem even more realistic. 

The next day, the New York Times article explained the radio broadcast as a hoax and it made Orson Welles famous.

You can listen to the actual radio broadcast via my fellow Associate Content writer friend, Michael Segers' article,

War of the Worlds: Free Old Time Radio for Halloween


  (Photo from The New York Times Source: microfilm archives of the New York Times © Wikimedia Commons)

Michael's article has some great information about archives of historic radio programs, so please read all of the article, but you can click here for the "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. (You can even right click on the program link to save the mp3 to your computer)

Although Baby Boomers were the television generation and radio drama began to fade in popularity, there is something about listening to stories on the radio, where the listener has to use their imagination, that makes it all the more dramatic and enjoyable.

Give a listen to this classic radio show this Halloween with the family.


Anonymous said...

I wish I could have heard the original broadcast, I bet it must have been exciting. The "War of the Worlds
is definitely a classic. I wonder what would happen today if an author tried pulling a stunt like this?

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Anonymous said...

My father said he heard the show in Providence and enjoyed it. He had heard the Mercury Theatre before and didn't think we weren't being invaded any more than he might have thought Dracula was undead when they dramatized Bram Stoker's story earlier in the year.