War of the Worlds - Research Article from St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture

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War of the Worlds

Broadcast on October 30, 1938, Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre radio dramatization of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds engendered a mass panic in which millions of Americans believed they were being invaded by Martians; in so doing, the broadcast dramatically demonstrated the nascent power of mass media in American culture.

The Mercury Theatre group, headed by the 23-year-old Welles, had built a small national audience with its weekly radio adaptations of literary classics such as Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Welles, his partner John Houseman, and writer Howard Koch collaborated on the hour-long scripts. The trio nearly scrapped their War of the Worlds adaptation, as Koch's faithful approximation of the novel did not translate well in rehearsals. The group decided to stick with the project after re-working the script to mirror a news broadcast. Nevertheless, as group members and even Welles himself later...

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This section contains 1,242 words
(approx. 5 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the War of the Worlds Encyclopedia Article
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War of the Worlds from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.