the story
(stitched by a reserved but furious woman in 1938. she and her husband thought war of the worlds was real, had nowhere to flee and had to accept that death was going to happen with no time to rationalize it)
((disorganized and hasty on purpose. she’s frustrated but does not want to express negativity or create a negative environment in her home))


October 30th 1938: ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast

On this day in 1938, Orson Welles broadcast his radio play of H.G. Wells’s 1898 science-fiction novel The War of the Worlds on PBS. Coinciding with Halloween, the play was broadcast as a realistic series of news bulletins, detailing a Martian invasion of Earth. Millions of Americans were listening to the radio that night, but did not turn over to Welles’s broadcast on CBS until 12 minutes into the show, after a popular ventriloquist show ended on NBC. By this time, the play was underway, taking the form of orchestral music frequently interrupted by news updates about an alien invasion. Welles described his fictional Martians vividly, expaining how their “eyes are black and gleam like a serpent”, and detailing their use of walking war machines and heat-ray weapons. The popular story goes that the frighteningly realistic broadcast caused milions of Americans to believe that a real alien invasion was occuring. People supposedly fled the fictional crash site in New Jersey, and took to the streets in mass hysteria. The CBS studio heard about the panic, and Welles reasured listeners that the story was fictitious. While Welles and CBS feared that the confusion would damage their reputation, CBS was cleared of wrongdoing, and the play launched Welles’s Hollywood career. The story of the mass panic caused by Welles’s War of the Worlds remains popular, but recent research has suggested that the extent of the commotion is far more limited than the myth allows. Newspapers at the time greatly exaggerated listeners’ panic - most of the show’s audience understood the play was fictitious - as a way to discredit radio, which was emerging as a serious competition to newspapers.

“Orson Welles, Portrait with Symbols” by Irving Penn, taken around 1945. The stuff on the table is an assortment of symbols that comment about Welles. For example, on his first visit to RKO he was reported to have called the film studio “the biggest electric train set any boy ever had.” (From The Art and Technique of Color Photography, 1951.)