The Night That Panicked America

On October 30, 1938 Orson Wells broadcast a radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds and it brought him instant fame. The combination of the news bulletin form of the performance with the between-breaks dial spinning habits of listeners from the rival and far more popular Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy program, was later reported in the media to have created widespread confusion among listeners who failed to hear the introduction. Panic was reported to have spread among many listeners who believed the news reports of a Martian invasion. The myth of the result created by the combination was reported as fact around the world and disparagingly mentioned by Adolf Hitler in a public speech a few months later. The 1970s “docu-drama” The Night That Panicked America was based on events centering around the production of, and events that resulted from, the program.

Edited from Orson Welles

This entry was posted in Arts, History. Bookmark the permalink.