War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast Part 2

About the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast by Orson Welles which sent America into a state of panic.


Meanwhile, at 8:12, Edgar and Charlie completed a skit, and a commercial for Chase and Sanborn coffee began. Millions of people switched to CBS and heard:

ANNOUNCER: ... I'll move the microphone nearer. Here. (Pause.) Now we're not more than 25 ft. away. Can you hear it now? Oh, Professor Pierson!

PIERSON: Yes, Mr. Phillips?

ANNOUNCER: Can you tell us the meaning of that scraping noise inside the thing?

PIERSON: Possibly the unequal cooling of its surface.

ANNOUNCER: Do you still think it's a meteor, Professor?

PIERSON: I don't know what to think. The metal casing is definitely extraterrestrial ... not found on this earth...

PHILLIPS: Just a minute! Something's happening! Ladies and gentlemen, this is terrific. The end of the thing is beginning to flake off! The top is beginning to rotate like a screw! The thing must be metal!

The crowd noises increased as the top came off, and the announcer went on:

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed! ... Wait a minute! Someone's crawling out of the hollow top. Someone or ... something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous discs ... are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be ...

And he proceeded to describe the tentacles of the creature, its size (large "as a bear"), its black eyes (which gleamed "like a serpent"), and its mouth ("V-shaped with saliva dripping from its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate").

Between musical interludes, the horrors mounted. The police approached the cylinder, only to be turned into flaming torches by the Martians' flamethrower, a kind of "heat ray" emanating from a mirror.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the panic began. Those who tuned in late accepted what they heard. Switchboards at police stations were jammed with calls, and some people fled their homes to mill about in the streets.

As the broadcast continued, the governor had the commander of the state militia put part of New Jersey under martial law; more spaceships arrived (one was found by coon hunters); thousands of national guardsmen and the entire army air corps were wiped out; communication lines were down and railroads were torn up; highways were "clogged with frantic human traffic"; the president declared a national emergency; and the secretary of the interior (played by Kenneth Delmar, who later portrayed Senator Claghorn on the Fred Allen Show) gave an inspirational speech in an authoritative voice that sounded a lot like Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt's. Those Martians were indeed, as the script said, able to "move at express-train speed." In less than a half hour of real time, they had annihilated most of New Jersey. In Newark, "poisonous black smoke," according to "a telephone operator," was pouring in from the marshes. Hearing that report come over their radios, many Newark residents abandoned their homes. In one block, 20 families rushed out with wet handkerchiefs over their heads and faces, trying to escape the gas.

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