On October 20, 1938, Orson Welles unleashed a national panic with his radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’s “The War of the Worlds.” For context, the science fiction novel follows the landing of violent Martians who dispatch the British army with ease before succumbing to earthly diseases. Welles, with very little planning, delivered a national broadcast that transformed the novel into a real-time announcement of a Martian invasion of the planet.
The writer, Howard Koch, only got a week to turn the novel into a radio adaption.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, thousands of people took the invasion as real! The next day Welles’ face was emblazoned over the front pages across the country, asking a similar question: did he purposely create a national panic? Here’s the crazy story of the Orson Welles broadcast that rocked America.