'War of the Worlds' Terrified The Nation 70 Years Ago
October 30, 2008 at 7:20 AM (PT)
The Martians are coming! The Martians are coming!
Seventy years ago TODAY (10/30), that was what some listeners of ORSON WELLES' radio dramatization of "War of the Worlds" feared was taking place, writes LISA SWAN in THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. The HALLOWEEN-themed broadcast, which aired SUNDAY night, OCTOBER 30, 1938, scared the living daylights out of millions of listeners.
Those who listened from the beginning of the CBS program were aware that the show was merely an adaptation of H.G. WELLS' science fiction novel about Martians landing on Earth, a fictional production from WELLES' Mercury Theatre.
But many tuned in late after listening to the conclusion of "The Chase and Sanborn Hour" on a rival station, featuring ventriloquist EDGAR BERGEN and his dummy CHARLIE MCCARTHY. So those listeners missed the disclaimer at the beginning.
Many listeners started panicking almost immediately, especially when they heard on the broadcast that the governor of NEW JERSEY had declared martial law and that the National Guard had been mobilized.