Undated file photo of Orson Welles (photo: AP)

In 1937, an independent repertory theatre company called “Mercury Theatre” emerged from the creative minds of two future Hollywood legends and onto the Broadway stage. The next year, CBS radio hired its twenty-two year-old prodigy cofounder to produce a series of radio broadcasts.

On July 11, 1938, First Person Singular aired its first broadcast, a dramatic reenactment of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.” Shortly before Halloween that year, it became The Mercury Theatre on the Air. On the evening of October 30, 1938, Orson Welles and his cast produced a modernized–and Americanized–version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, simultaneously spooking hundreds of thousands (some say millions) of Americans and forever imprinting the “genius” status on Welles.

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