“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own.”
~ “War of the Worlds” by H.G Wells 1898
The Orson Wells’ historic “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. KPCC will re-air the show and along with a documentary, hosted by and Sci-Fi icon George Takei right before Halloween.
On October 30th, 1938 radio audiences were brought to a panicked frenzy listening to the “War of the Worlds” radio drama disguised as a news broadcast. Mercury Theatre on the Air performed the Halloween episode on October 30, 1938, and aired over the CBS radio network. Long before television took over as the primary channel for important news, families relied on the radio to bring world events into their homes.
Based on the famous novel by H.G. Wells published in 1898, where Martians invade the Earth and mankind is powerless to stop them. Wells crafted a taunt and still strikingly chilling drama. Really the first form of “reality entertainment” the radio broadcast captivated the listening public. Some people actually believed the broadcast to be real and that aliens had invaded. Because the broadcast ran without commercial breaks for the majority of its airtime, many people were convinced it was real. The only notices that the broadcast was fictional came at the start of the broadcast and about 40 and 55 minutes into it. Wells and the station narrowly escaped legal action after the broadcast. Wells went on to release “Citizen Kane,” just three years later.
George Takei had this to say about the original broadcast:
“I was only 1 when the ‘War of the Worlds’ was first broadcast, but I remember my parents and their friends talking about it.”
Takei added: “When you think about how many Americans honestly believed the Martians were invading, it’s not hard to understand why Americans would – just a few years later – be so paranoid as to think Japanese-American citizens — who’d lived here for generations — could suddenly become America’s enemy simply because they happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.” Takei was a Japanese-American interned with his family during World War II.
The War of the Worlds will air at 8p.m. Oct. 30 on KPCC, as well as on other broadcast media sources.
Source: scpr.org and Wikipedia