‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast creates panic, Oct. 30, 1938
Some Americans grabbed their guns, their children, or their Bibles on the night of Oct. 30, 1938, when a too-real radio drama convinced them that aliens were invading Earth. Many people missed the disclaimers that The War of the Worlds was fictional.
“Thousands of terror-stricken radio listeners throughout the country fled from their homes last night when they tuned in on a series of synthetic news broadcasts which depicted the beginning of an interplanetary war,” reported an Associated Press article the following day in The Bakersfield Californian of Bakersfield, Calif.
“The simulated news bulletins, which accompanied a CBS dramatization of H.G. Wells’ fantasy, ‘The War of the Worlds,’ became so realistic that they sent a wave of mass hysteria across the continent.”
Read more about The War of the Worlds
An Oct. 31, 1938, article in The Ogden Standard-Examiner of Ogden City, Utah, described how local residents responded to the broadcast. Time to Pray, Utahn Thinks
An article published Nov. 3, 1938, in The Charleston Gazette of Charleston, W. Va., profiled narrator/director Orson Welles and his career. Welles’ Unintentional Radio War Scare