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The Mangy Rooster - Audio Archives

Home > HISTORICAL > VINTAGE RADIO SHOWS


WAR OF THE WORLDS (ORSON WELLES) 1938

The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a Halloween special on October 30, 1938 and aired over the CBS Radio network. Directed by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells' classic novel The War of the Worlds. The first half of the 60-minute broadcast was presented as a series of news bulletins, which suggested to many listeners that an actual Martian invasion was in progress (Because the Mercury Theatre on the Air was at that time a 'sustaining show' [without sponsorship], the broadcast had no commercial interruption). Some fled their homes; others merely were terrified. The news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast, but the episode launched Welles to fame.






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