One the world’s most effective radio stunts was performed on this day in 1938 when The Mercury Theatre on the Air performed H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds as a special Halloween episode. The special was directed and narrated by Orson Welles in a way that made the story come alive. So alive in fact that it caused panic among those listening in thinking that Martians had really come to earth with evil intent. A lot of the program was presented in a series of new bulletins that stated an explosion took place on Mars while a strange object fell from the sky and landed on a farm in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. Adding to the illusion was fact that the special did not take time out for commercials during the broadcast. Although some research has shown that the panic wasn’t as widespread as previously reported, it still marks an amazing, if not misguided, feat in radio.
Henry Winkler is Born
On this day in 1945, Henry Winkler, best known for his role as Fonzie in the TV sitcom Happy Days was born in New York City. Many are not aware that Winkler actually earned a master’s degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama. Originally intended to be a minor character on the show, Winkler took on leather coated greaser in his late 20’s, a role that was inspired by The Lords of Flatbush. Soon, kids all over where telling others to “Sit on it” and “Aayy!” while carrying their Fonzie lunch box. Perhaps his better achievement has been his marriage to wife Stacey since 1978.