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08:15 pm:

70th anniversary of fictional space invaders who panicked America

70th anniversary of fictional space invaders who panicked America AFP/File – 1973 portrait of famous American film actor and director Orson Welles. Seventy years ago this week, thousands …

NEW YORK (AFP) – Seventy years ago this week, thousands of Americans settled in at home for what they expected would be a relaxing evening of radio theater -- a favorite family entertainment in the pre-television age.

By the time the broadcast ended an hour later panic erupted.

Americans by the thousands fled what they feared was an imminent invasion by space aliens; while others armed themselves in defense against the marauding extraterrestials.

Radio listeners, many of whom flooded police emergency phone lines, apparently had missed a disclaimer at the start of the broadcast making it clear that events unfolding over the airwaves were fictional.

A headline emblazoned across the top of the New York Times the next day told the story: "Radio listeners in panic, taking war drama as fact."

This year marks seven decades since the historic "War of the Worlds" broadcast unleashed a furore across the country, as Americans by the tens of thousands allowed themselves to be fooled by the radio broadcast's realistic-sounding news bulletins and sound effects.

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