War of the Worlds Broadcast Stokes Panic

War of the Worlds Broadcast Stokes Panic
Radio listeners panic and flood police stations and newspapers with calls of a Martian invasion.

Famed American filmmaker Orson Welles, 23 years old at the time, narrated an adaptation of the H.G. Wells 1897 novel The War of The Worlds for a Halloween episode of The Mercury Theater on Air radio program on October 30, 1938. A panic ensued as members of the listening public--unaware that the broadcast was an act of fiction--became convinced that a Martian invasion was in progress, fearing for their lives owing to the vivid descriptions of ray guns and alien gas attacks. The event and subsequent fallout--the story was front page lead of the New York Times the next day--brought science fiction and the prospect of hostilities with extraterrestrial life into the public zeitgeist in a prominent way.

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