31 October 2009
The Greatest Halloween Trick Ever Played
Posted by Dan Satterfield
On October 30th 1938 Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre on the air convinced several million Americans that we were being invaded by creatures from Mars.
He was told by the bosses at CBS, dealing with the panic he caused, to tell the audience at the end of the program that it was only a joke. His off the cuff “apology” is a classic. It still has valuable advice 71 years later on this last day of October…
CBS Radio October 30, 1938- Orson Welles:
Starting now, we couldn’t soap all your windows and still all your garden gates by tomorrow night, so we did the next best thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears ,and utterly destroyed the CBS.
You’ll be relieved (I hope) to know that we didn’t mean it, and both institutions are still open for business.
So good night everybody and remember for the next few days the terrible lesson you leanred tonight.
That grinning, glowing globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and no-body’s there….
That was no Martian!
You can hear a recording of the above as it was broadcast here:
I have an old cassette tape of this broadcast somewhere! Orson Welles was an amazing man . . . have you ever seen his (supposedly “posthumous”) illusion with David Copperfield? It was nearly as creepy and just as awesome (to me).