DAILY FUEL: Welles’ Greatest Halloween Trick

On this day in 1938, during a Halloween radio broadcast by Orson Welles’ Mercury  Theatre On the Air of H.G. Wells’ WAR OF THE WORLDS, a panic ensued when an undetermined number of listeners believed the tale of a Martian invasion to be fact. Co-produced and narrated by the then 23 year-old Welles, it is believed that a proportion of the audience had turned in late, missing the disclaimer that had been given, and were drawn in by the “breaking news” series of interruptions describing the aliens’ progress and violence, creating terror. In the spirit of Halloween, the broadcast ended with Welles breaking character on-air to compare the show to “dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush saying ‘boo’!”.

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