War of the Worlds Broadcast Stokes Panic
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.