Oct 31, 2023

By Andy Johnson

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It was 85 years ago last night that Orson Wells and the Mercury Theatre on the Air, debuted “The War of the Worlds” on CBS radio in the United States

“The War of the Worlds” was a Halloween episode, based on H.G. Wells’ novel of the same name.

It became famous for inciting a panic by convincing some members of the audience that a Martian invasion was taking place although the scale of the panic is disputed.

The show took on the format of an evening of typical radio programming being periodically interrupted by news bulletins which detailed an unknown object falling on a farm in Grovers Mill, New Jersey.

The crisis escalated dramatically when a live report described creatures emerging from what was evidently an alien spacecraft which was later described as a Martian war machine.

But in the end, Wells revealed that the show was nothing more than the Mercury Theatre’s version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping our of a bush and saying ‘boo.”

And he finished by saying, “If your doorbell rings and there’s nobody there, that was no Martian; it’s Halloween.”

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