30 Oct. 1938: N.Y. panics over alien invasion


On Sunday, October 30, 1938, (Halloween)  Orson Welles broadcast  his radio play of H. G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds,” causing anxiety in the U.S.

The radio play  was an adaptation of  the novel “ The War of the Worlds” (1898), which tells the story of an alien invasion of Earth,  directed  and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles. The first two-thirds of the episode was presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, which suggested that an actual alien invasion by Martians was in progress. This caused mass panic among the listeners and  secured Welles’s fame as a dramatist.

However, even though the newspapers assumed that the large number of phone calls, and reports of listeners rushing about or even fleeing their homes, proved the existence of a mass panic, the hysteria associated with the radio programme was greatly exaggerated.

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