On Sunday, October 30, 1938, the night before Halloween, millions of Americans gathered around their radios and heard a news bulletin about strange explosions on Mars, followed by other reports that led them to believe an alien invasion was in progress. The thrill of Orson Welles’ infamous radio dramatization of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds returns 75 years after it set off one of the biggest mass hysteria events in U.S. history.
This American Experience film examines the elements that made America ripe for the hoax: America’s longtime fascination with life on Mars; the emergence of radio as a powerful new medium; the shocking Hindenburg explosion of 1937; and Welles himself, the 23-year-old wunderkind director of the drama and mischief-maker supreme — all subjects to intrigue you and students, especially during this week of Halloween excitement. Watch a preview.
At the American Experience teachers’ area, you can search or browse over 1,500 features from more than 110 American Experience Web sites — including timelines, primary sources, teacher’s guides, maps, galleries, interactives, video, and more — to find history, civics, and other social studies resources for your classroom.