Orson Welles: Media and Mass Hysteria

A R T L▼R K

On the 30th of October 1938, the U.S. radio network CBS broadcast an audio drama from the Mercury Theatre on the Airseries adapted from English sci-fi writer H. G. Wells’ 1898 novel The War of the Worlds. This special Halloween edition was directed and narrated by a 23-year old Orson Welles, future Hollywood filmmaker.

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, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars…

Orson Welles, March 1, 1937 Orson Welles, March 1, 1937 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Sunday primetime show took the form of a 60-minute broadcast, most of which consisted of intermittent simulated news bulletins, which could be aired erratically in a musical slot totally…

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