(NEW YORK) — Wednesday marks the 75th anniversary of perhaps the greatest Halloween scare ever — the radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells science-fiction novel.
The broadcast set off a panic 75 years ago on Oct. 30, 1938, when a fake news announcer interrupted a fake music program to report a fake alien invasion.
Even though it was pointed out three times during the hour-long broadcast that it was just a play, more than a million people reportedly believed Martians had landed on Earth.
The broadcast caused hysteria across America. Police stations were flooded with calls and many people were said to have abandoned their houses.
Welles and others were sued by many for mental anguish following the broadcast, but all suits were dismissed.
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