On the night of October 30th, 1938, Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air presented a dramatization of the HG Wells Classic “The War of the Worlds”. Their play took the form of a series of news bulletins portraying a realistic-sounding fictional Martian invasion. Those who tuned in late missed the introduction of the play, taking them out of their fictitious context. Many mistook its realistic presentation for actual reports of an imminent invasion. Whether is was thought to be Martians, or humans disguised as Martians, people believed their homes were under attack by a foreign enemy. For forty minutes Welles’ broadcast horrified the minds of his growing audience, until an intermission revealed the reality of the drama.

Relive the night of October 30, 1938. Listen to events unfold on the radio as the Martian invasion takes place outside your window. War of the Worlds Broadcast was created by Internet software developer Matthew Wilber. For more information, visit mwilber.com.

Audio recording of Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater presentation of The War of the Worlds is used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License. Verify at archive.org

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