Orson Welles was an American actor, director, writer and producer who is remembered for his innovative work in radio, theatre and film. He is one of the greatest film directors of all time. In 1938, his radio series ‘The Mercury Theatre on the Air’ gave Welles the platform to find international fame as the director and narrator of H. G. Wells’s novel ‘The War of the Worlds’.
The series caused widespread panic because many listeners thought that an invasion by extraterrestrial beings was actually occurring. Although some contemporary sources say these reports of panic were mostly false and overstated, they rocketed Welles to notoriety.
The combination of the news bulletin form of the performance with the between-breaks dial spinning habits of listeners was later reported to have created widespread confusion among listeners who failed to hear the introduction. Panic was reportedly spread among listeners who believed the fictional news reports of a Martian invasion.
On the evening of October 9, 1985, Welles recorded his final interview on TV, appearing with biographer Barbara Leaming. Welles returned to his house in Hollywood and worked into the early hours for the project he was planning to shoot the following day. Welles died sometime on the morning of October 10, following a heart attack.