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War of the Worlds - Radio Dramatization, Orson Welles

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On the 30th of October, 1938, Orson Welles - through his Mercury Theatre on the Air - broadcast an adapted, radio dramatization of the novel, War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells

In 1938, October 30th fell on a Sunday.  People listening to the broadcast, at its beginning, heard the announcer say: 

The Columbia Broadcasting System, and its affiliated stations, present Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air in The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells.

Anyone who tuned in late, however, would have missed those words.

Americans throughout the country, who tuned in late and were already worried about ever-worsening events in Europe, believed they were hearing the news, not a radio play.  In some places, panic ensued.

The following day - Halloween - Welles held a press conference during which he insisted his broadcast was just a holiday prank.  Twenty years later, however, he admitted to additional motives.  Welles, and his colleagues, were convinced that people would believe whatever they heard from "the box." 

The War of the Worlds broadcast - specifically reworked from the original story to impact Americans - effectively demonstrated the power of radio to manipulate a mass audience in a time of political crisis.  

The BBC also has an archive of H.G. Wells' recordings for everyone's listening pleasure.

Cast :

Main cast members of The Mercury Theatre on the Air:  Orson Welles, Martin Gabel, Ray Collins, Kenny Delmar, George Coulouris, Edgar Barrier, Paul Stewart, Everett Sloane, Joseph Cotten, Hiram Sherman, Erskin Sanford, Frank Readick, Agnes Moorehead, Alice Frost, Karl Swenson, William Alland

Announcer:  Dan Deymour

Orchestra:  Bernard Herrmann

Producer:
  John Houseman

Director:  Orson Welles

Writers of this Episode:  Howard Koch, with edits by Orson Welles

Engineer:  John Dietz

Sound Effects:  James Rogan, Ray Kremer, Ora Nichol

See, also:

Interview with Orson Welles about the Broadcast

The Night that Panicked America, Part 1

The Night that Panicked America, Part 2

The Night that Panicked America, Part 3

The Night that Panicked America, Part 4

The Night that Panicked America, Part 5

The Night that Panicked America, Part 6

The Night that Panicked America, Part 7

The Night that Panicked America, Part 8

The Night that Panicked America, Part 9


Media Credits

Online, courtesy Archive.org.

Public Domain

 

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"War of the Worlds - Radio Dramatization, Orson Welles" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Sep 24, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/War-of-the-Worlds-Radio-Dramatization-Orson-Welles>.
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