The Panic Broadcast (02:47)
Hear opinions about Orson Welles and Colombia Broadcasting System after a radio show convinced nearly a million people that aliens had invaded the Earth.
Mischief Night (04:20)
On Sunday October 30, 1938, millions of people were listening to the radio. Most people missed the announcement that "War of the Worlds" was a play.
Radio Life Line (03:02)
Nearly 10 years after the Great Depression, the public was used to bad news. Most homes had radios by 1938. See footage of the Hindenburg burning.
Period of Fear in America (01:50)
News from Europe dominated the radio for 18 days in September of 1938 as the world was pushed to the brink of war by the Munich Crisis.
The Shadow (03:32)
Film director Peter Bogdanovich describes the moment Welles paused the broadcast and created "deafening silence." He was a major talent as an actor and director.
Grover's Mill, New Jersey (02:28)
H.G. Wells wrote a tale of destruction about Martian invaders. Welles directed his writer to shift the setting to the U.S.
News Bulletins and Eyewitness Accounts (02:42)
It was decided that using the style of a breaking news story would make "War of the Worlds" more entertaining. CBS banned the use of real names.
Invading Army From Mars (02:59)
Some people realized that a Martian invasion was implausible while others found it believable and prepared to flee.
Life on Mars (02:16)
Giovanni Schiaparelli observed faint geometric lines crisscrossing Mars. A mistranslation led to some believing in an industrious Martian race.
Mass Panic (02:44)
Americans made phone calls looking for relatives and trying to corroborate what had been heard on the radio. Strange bulletins came in over press service wires.
End of the World (02:07)
By 8:30 pm, Welles and his cast had launched a full scale Martian invasion over the radio. It did not seem a far-fetched idea considering recent events.
Irrational Thoughts (03:10)
Kenneth Delmar impersonated the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt without claiming to be the president. Network executives ordered the broadcast interrupted, but Wells would not stop.
Halloween Prank (04:00)
People thought the world was coming to an end. At 8:42 pm, Welles delivered the station break ordered by CBS.
Outrage After Broadcast (02:04)
CBS was inundated with police and reporters. Evidence of the "panic broadcast" was collected and destroyed. The FCC ordered an investigation.
"War of the Worlds" Press Conference (04:08)
Welles delivered a convincing apology for the panic he instigated with the radio broadcast. He achieved international fame.
Stupidity of the Masses (03:34)
After "War of the Worlds" aired, the FCC, CBS, and Welles received thousands of letters both praising and condemning the broadcast.
Sunday, October 30, 1938 (03:16)
The FCC concluded its investigation five weeks after broadcast. No punitive action was taken against CBS or Welles.
Credits: War of the Worlds (01:45)
Credits: War of the Worlds
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