Oblivious to the situation, the manager advised Paar to calm down and said that it was "all a tempest in a teapot ". In a interview with radio historian Chuck Schaden , radio actor Alan Reed recalled being one of several actors recruited to answer phone calls at CBS's New York headquarters.
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In Concrete, Washington , phone lines and electricity suffered a short circuit at the Superior Portland Cement Company's substation. Residents were unable to call neighbors, family, or friends to calm their fears. Reporters who heard of the coincidental blackout sent the story over the newswire , and soon, Concrete was known worldwide.
Welles continued with the rehearsal of Danton's Death scheduled to open November 2 , leaving shortly after dawn October He was operating on three hours of sleep when CBS called him to a press conference. He read a statement that was later printed in newspapers nationwide and took questions from reporters:  : , Within three weeks, newspapers had published at least 12, articles about the broadcast and its impact,  : 61  but the story dropped from the front pages after a few days.
Bob Sanders recalled looking outside the window and seeing a traffic jam in the normally quiet Grover's Mill, New Jersey , a crossroads of Cranbury and Clarksville Roads. Later studies indicate that many missed the repeated notices about the broadcast being fictional, partly because The Mercury Theatre on the Air , an unsponsored CBS cultural program with a relatively small audience, ran at the same time as the NBC Red Network 's popular Chase and Sanborn Hour featuring ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.
At the time, many Americans assumed that a significant number of Chase and Sanborn listeners changed stations when the first comic sketch ended and a musical number by Nelson Eddy began and then tuned in "The War of the Worlds" after the opening announcements, but historian A. Brad Schwartz, after studying hundreds of letters from people who heard "The War of the Worlds", as well as contemporary audience surveys, concluded that very few people frightened by Welles's broadcast had tuned out Bergen's program.
As a result, the only notices that the broadcast was fictional came at the start of the broadcast and about 40 and 55 minutes into it. A study by the Radio Project discovered that fewer than one third of frightened listeners understood the invaders to be aliens; most thought that they were listening to reports of a German invasion or of a natural catastrophe.
The Munich crisis was at its height For the first time in history, the public could tune into their radios every night and hear, boot by boot, accusation by accusation, threat by threat, the rumblings that seemed inevitably leading to a world war. CBS News chief Paul White wrote that he was convinced that the panic induced by the broadcast was a result of the public suspense generated before the Munich Pact. Thus they believed the Welles production even though it was specifically stated that the whole thing was fiction".
Radio had siphoned off advertising revenue from print during the Depression, badly damaging the newspaper industry. The newspaper industry sensationalized the panic to prove to advertisers, and regulators, that radio management was irresponsible and not to be trusted. Historical research suggests the panic was far less widespread than newspapers had indicated at the time. Joseph Campbell wrote in He quotes Robert E. Bartholomew, an authority on mass panic outbreaks, as having said that "there is a growing consensus among sociologists that the extent of the panic That position is supported by contemporary accounts.
After analyzing those letters, A. Brad Schwartz concluded that although the broadcast briefly misled a significant portion of its audience, very few of those listeners fled their homes or otherwise panicked. The total number of protest letters sent to Welles and the FCC is also low in comparison with other controversial radio broadcasts of the period, further suggesting the audience was small and the fright severely limited.
Five thousand households were telephoned that night in a survey conducted by the C. Hooper company, the main radio ratings service at the time. Ben Gross, radio editor for the New York Daily News , wrote in his memoir that the streets were nearly deserted as he made his way to the studio for the end of the program. According to Campbell, the most common response said to indicate a panic was calling the local newspaper or police to confirm the story or seek additional information.
That, he writes, is an indicator that people were not generally panicking or hysterical. What a night. After the broadcast, as I tried to get back to the St. Regis where we were living, I was blocked by an impassioned crowd of news people looking for blood, and the disappointment when they found I wasn't hemorrhaging. It wasn't long after the initial shock that whatever public panic and outrage there was vanished. But, the newspapers for days continued to feign fury. As it was late on a Sunday night in the Eastern Time Zone , where the broadcast originated, few reporters and other staff were present in newsrooms.
Most newspaper coverage thus took the form of Associated Press stories, which were largely anecdotal aggregates of reporting from its various bureaus, giving the impression that panic had indeed been widespread. Many newspapers led with the Associated Press's story the next day. The Twin City Sentinel of Winston-Salem, North Carolina pointed out that the situation could have been even worse if most people had not been listening to Edgar Bergen's show: "Charlie McCarthy last night saved the United States from a sudden and panicky death by hysteria.
On November 2, , the Australian newspaper The Age characterized the incident as "mass hysteria" and stated that "never in the history of the United States had such a wave of terror and panic swept the continent". Unnamed observers quoted by The Age commented that "the panic could have only happened in America. Editorialists chastised the radio industry for allowing that to happen.
The response may have reflected newspaper publishers' fears that radio, to which they had lost some of the advertising revenue that was scarce enough during the Great Depression , would render them obsolete.
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William Randolph Hearst 's papers called on broadcasters to police themselves, lest the government step in, as Iowa Senator Clyde L. Herring proposed a bill that would have required all programming to be reviewed by the FCC prior to broadcast he never actually introduced it. Others blamed the radio audience for its credulity. Noting that any intelligent listener would have realized the broadcast was fictional, the Chicago Tribune opined, "it would be more tactful to say that some members of the radio audience are a trifle retarded mentally, and that many a program is prepared for their consumption.
Few contemporary accounts exist outside newspaper coverage of the mass panic and hysteria supposedly induced by the broadcast. Justin Levine, a producer at KFI -AM in Los Angeles, wrote in a history of the FCC's response to hoax broadcasts that "the anecdotal nature of such reporting makes it difficult to objectively assess the true extent and intensity of the panic. In a study published in book form as The Invasion from Mars , Princeton professor Hadley Cantril calculated that some six million people heard "The War of the Worlds" broadcast.
Its estimate of the program's audience is more than twice as high as any other at the time. Cantril himself conceded that, but argued that unlike Hooper , his estimate had attempted to capture the significant portion of the audience that did not have home telephones at that time. Since those respondents were contacted only after the media frenzy, Cantril allowed that their recollections could have been influenced by what they read in the newspapers. Claims that Chase and Sanborn listeners, who missed the disclaimer at the beginning when they turned to CBS during a commercial break or musical performance on that show and thus mistook "The War of the Worlds" for a real broadcast inflated the show's audience and the ensuing alleged panic, are impossible to substantiate.
Apart from his admittedly-imperfect methods of estimating the audience and assessing the authenticity of their response, Pooley and Socolow found, Cantril made another error in typing audience reaction. Respondents had indicated a variety of reactions to the program, among them "excited", "disturbed", and "frightened".
However, he included all of them with "panicked", failing to account for the possibility that despite their reaction, they were still aware the broadcast was staged. Bartholomew grants that hundreds of thousands were frightened, but calls evidence of people taking action based on their fear "scant" and "anecdotal".
Such stories were often reported by people who were panicking themselves. Later investigations found much of the alleged panicked responses to have been exaggerated or mistaken. Cantril's researchers found that contrary to what had been claimed, no admissions for shock were made at a Newark hospital during the broadcast; hospitals in New York City similarly reported no spike in admissions that night. A few suicide attempts seem to have been prevented when friends or family intervened, but no record of a successful one exists. A Washington Post claim that a man died of a heart attack brought on by listening to the program could not be verified.
One woman filed a lawsuit against CBS, but it was soon dismissed. The FCC also received letters from the public that advised against taking reprisals. Wells and Orson Welles met for the first and only time in late October , shortly before the second anniversary of the Mercury Theatre broadcast, when they both happened to be lecturing in San Antonio , Texas.
The War of the Worlds, by H. G. Wells
Shaw,  : who introduced them by characterizing the panic generated by "The War of the Worlds": "The country at large was frightened almost out of its wits". Wells expressed good-natured skepticism about the actual extent of the panic caused by "this sensational Halloween spree," saying: "Are you sure there was such a panic in America or wasn't it your Halloween fun?
Hitler made a good deal of sport of it, you know It's supposed to show the corrupt condition and decadent state of affairs in democracy, that 'The War of the Worlds' went over as well as it did. I think it's very nice of Mr. Wells to say that not only I didn't mean it, but the American people didn't mean it. When Shaw interjected that there was "some excitement" that he did not wish to belittle, Welles asked him, "What kind of excitement?
Wells wants to know if the excitement wasn't the same kind of excitement that we extract from a practical joke in which somebody puts a sheet over his head and says 'Boo! And that's just about what happened.
When is The War of the Worlds on TV? Who is in the cast?
And the consequence is you can still play with ideas of terror and conflict It's a natural thing to do until you're right up against it. Britain and France had then been at war with Nazi Germany for more than a year. As the Mercury 's second theatre season began in , Orson Welles and John Houseman were unable to write the Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcasts on their own.
They hired Howard Koch , whose experience in having a play performed by the Federal Theatre Project in Chicago led him to leave his law practice and move to New York to become a writer. A condensed version of the script for "The War of the Worlds" appeared in the debut issue of Radio Digest magazine February , in an article on the broadcast that credited "Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre players". Welles strongly protested Koch being listed as sole author since many others contributed to the script, but by the time the book was published, he had decided to end the dispute. Hosted by Edward R.
Murrow , the live presentation of Nelson S.
Bond 's documentary play recreated the performance of "The War of the Worlds" in the CBS studio, using the script as a framework for a series of factual narratives about a cross-section of radio listeners. No member of the Mercury Theatre is named. Koch had granted CBS the right to use the script in its program. The book, The Panic Broadcast , was first published in Initially apologetic about the supposed panic his broadcast had caused and privately fuming that newspaper reports of lawsuits were either greatly exaggerated or totally fabricated  , Welles later embraced the story as part of his personal myth.
CBS, too, found reports ultimately useful in promoting the strength of its influence. It presented a fictionalized account of the panic in " The Night America Trembled ", a episode of the television series Studio One , and included it prominently in its celebrations of CBS's 75th anniversary as a television broadcaster.
In , ABC aired the television movie The Night That Panicked America , depicting the effect the radio drama had on the public using fictional, but typical American families of the time. The New Jersey Township of West Windsor , where Grover's Mill is located, commemorated the 50th anniversary of the broadcast in with four days of festivities including art and planetarium shows, a panel discussion, a parade, burial of a time capsule, a dinner dance, film festivals devoted to H. Wells and Orson Welles, and the dedication of a bronze monument to the fictional Martian landings. Howard Koch, an author of the original radio script, attended the 49th anniversary celebration as an honored guest.
The 75th anniversary of "The War of the Worlds" was marked by an international rebroadcast with an introduction by George Takei ,  and an episode of the PBS documentary series American Experience.