80 years ago today, “The War of the Worlds” radio drama was broadcast on CBS nationwide, and its unique format of news reporting unintentionally sent the country into a panic. Upwards of a million people actually believed alien Martians had landed. It was the Halloween episode of The Mercury Theatre on the Air produced, directed and narrated by actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles, adapted from the H. G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds.
Many had tuned in late and missed the announcement that this was a dramatic play. Instead, they heard what sounded like a news bulletin: “Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our evening of dance music to bring you a special bulletin…at 20 minutes before eight… several explosions of incandescent gas… traveling from the planet Mars.” WATCH a PBS video… (1938)
More Good News from this Date:
- Russia’s first constitution and legislative assembly established by the Tsar (1905)
- 100 years ago today, the Ottoman Empire signed an armistice ending WW I in Middle East (1918)
- El Salvador and Honduras signed a peace treaty over border dispute (1980)
- First democratic elections in Argentina after 7 years of military rule (1983)
- The Madrid peace conference organized by the US and Soviet Union opened, the first time in 43 years that Israel has talked to all its Arab neighbors about peace (1991)
- Daily Show host Jon Stewart led 200,000 people in a Rally to Restore Sanity on the National Mall in Washington, DC promoting a return to reasoned discussion in America’s political life (2010)
And, on this day in 2005, the Frauenkirche church in Dresden, Germany, which was destroyed in the firebombing of that city during the Second World War, was re-consecrated after a thirteen-year rebuilding project energized by $10 million in donations from around the world, including a large donation and organizational fundraising from an American who’d seen the church as a child. (READ more of the remarkable story, here, and see the outcome.)
And, on this day in 1941, Franklin Roosevelt approved an additional $1 Billion in US Lend-Lease aid to Great Britain to help fund the Allied efforts to win World War II.
The “loan” which followed earlier investments to the UK, Free France, Russia, China and others, effectively ended the US policy of isolationism. Russia’s Joseph Stalin acknowledged the importance of the $50 Billion in US intervention saying, “Without American production the Allies could never have won the war.”
Also, on this day in 1982, the Australian band Men At Work went to No.1 in the US for the first time with “Who Can It Be Now”.
Formed in Melbourne in 1978 by songwriter Colin Hay on lead vocals and Ron Strykert on guitar, their energetic rhythms, reggae-inspired vocals, and quirky sense of humor—and memorable sax riffs by Greg Ham who played flute on their first single “Down Under”—earned them international success and the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, with their debut LP Business as Usual.