Oct. 30th: The Night that Panicked America (1975)

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This ad released by ABC is strangely inaccurate. The original broadcast occurred on Oct. 30th, not Halloween night.

Exactly 78 years ago on this night, October 30th 1938, Orson Welles produced a radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. Legend has it that the broadcast threw listeners into a frenzy, not realizing the production was a work of fiction and thought actual Martians were invading the Earth.

To what extent that is true is apparently up for some debate, with critics citing the allegations of panic as merely hokum the newspapers concocted to slander their newfound competition…radio.

Exactly 41 years ago tomorrow, Halloween 1975, ABC aired this recreation of that broadcast and the events supposedly surrounding it (with a fair amount of artistic license, no doubt) The Night That Panicked America.

For years following its initial broadcast, local stations made a habit of airing the film on the anniversary of the original Welles radio broadcast, October 30th.

And in the grand tradition of radio and local television, the Shindig Presents Joseph Sargent’s The Night That Panicked America, available to you here embedded from YouTube.

Happy Cabbage Night, Weeners. Go panic America!