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‘War’ Drama Recalled 63 Years Later

'War' Drama Recalled 63 Years Later

Skyscrapers knocked down. Thousands killed. New York City under attack.
Oct. 30 marks the 63rd anniversary of one of the most famous radio shows of all time, “War of the Worlds.” In several communities, re-enactments of the radio drama are taking on new meaning after the events of Sept. 11.
The original broadcast over WABC in New York and the Columbia Broadcasting System took place at 8 p.m. on a Sunday night in 1938. A fake invasion by Martians scared many scores of people who ran from their homes or called radio stations and police departments in panic.
The program helped make Orson Welles a legend, spawned an FCC investigation and caused one U.S. senator to prepare a bill giving the commission “authority to pass on every radio program before its presentation.” The presidents of the nation’s big broadcasting chains were invited to a conference by FCC Chairman Frank McNinch to a conference to discuss the use of the newspaper term “Flash.”
This month, as in autumns past, theater groups in Arizona and Virginia are staging re-enactments of the original show. Organizers are aware of the haunting parallels to today’s events in the radio text.
As one artistic director told the Arizona Republic, “Theater has and always will be a reflection of the times we live in.”