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Orson Welles' 'War of the Worlds' Radio Broadcast Was a Complete Spectacle

November 9, 1938

New York Daily News/Getty Images
Seventy-five years ago, Orson Welles took to the radio waves to broadcast an adaptation of H.G. Wells's novel The War of the WorldsPerformed as a Halloween episode for The Mercury Theatre on the Air drama series, the broadcast simulated an alien invasion as Welles narrated a fake news-bulletin: 
"Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Ill., reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular interviews on the planet Mars."
Although the extent of listener reaction to the show is debated, a 1938 issue of The New Republic deemed it "a spectacle fit for the laughter of the gods."