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Subject: It was 80 years ago today, on Oct. 30, 1938, that many Americans thought we were being invaded by Martians


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Orson Welles's "The War of the Worlds" broadcast
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Date Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 11:30:11am
In reply to: jlp 's message, "Oct. 30th~Happy 107th Birthday! Cricketer Eileen Whelan, Actor Rene Genesis is 100, Biologist Takma Tanada is 99, Actress Mariann Csernus is 90, Actress Zofia Grabska turns 90." on Monday, October 29, 09:05:13pm

"The War of the Worlds" is an episode of the American radio drama anthology series The Mercury Theatre on the Air directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles as an adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds (1898). It was performed and broadcast live as a Halloween episode on Sunday, October 30, 1938 over the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. The episode became famous for causing panic among its listening audience, but the scale of that panic is disputed, as the program had relatively few listeners.

The one-hour program began with the theme music for the Mercury Theatre on the Air and an announcement that the evening's show was an adaption of The War of the Worlds. This was followed by a prologue read by Orson Welles which was closely based on the opening of H.G. Wells' novel. The next half hour of the broadcast was presented as typical evening of radio programming which was interrupted by a series of news bulletins. The first few bulletins interrupt a program of dance music and describe a series of odd explosions observed on Mars. This is followed by a seemingly unrelated report of an unusual object falling on a farm in Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Another brief musical interlude is interrupted by a live report from Grover's Mill, where police officials and a crowd of curious onlookers have surrounded the strange cylindrical object.

The situation quickly escalates when Martians emerge from the cylinder and attack using a heat-ray, abruptly cutting off the panicked reporter at the scene. This is followed by a rapid series of increasingly alarming news updates detailing a devastating alien invasion taking place around the world. This portion of the show climaxes with another live report describing giant Martian war machines releasing clouds of poisonous smoke in New York City, after which the program took its first break. During the second half of the show, the program shifts to a more conventional radio drama format and follows a survivor dealing with the aftermath of the invasion and Martian occupation of Earth.

As in the original novel, the story ends with the discovery that the Martians have been defeated by microbes rather than by humans.

The illusion of realism was furthered because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was a sustaining show without commercial interruptions, and the first break in the program came almost 30 minutes after the introduction.

Popular legend holds that some of the radio audience may have been listening to The Chase and Sanborn Hour with Edgar Bergen and tuned in to "The War of the Worlds" during a musical interlude, thereby missing the clear introduction that the show was a drama; however, contemporary research suggests that this happened only in rare instances.

In the days after the adaptation, widespread outrage was expressed in the media. The program's news-bulletin format was described as deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the broadcasters and calls for regulation by the Federal Communications Commission. Nevertheless, the episode secured Welles's fame as a dramatist.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(radio_drama)

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Coincidentally, today I saw the "I Love Lucy" episode in which Orson Welles guest starred (NT)He mentioned his "Martian broadcast" (then 18 years in the past)Tuesday, October 30, 11:31:45am


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