On October 30th, 1938, audiences across the United States were horrified to listen to reports of an alien invasion in New York City. The broadcaster, Orson Welles, reported the breaking news between live music, cutting to reporters, scientists, and eye-witnesses of the events that captivated America.
A Wellesian smorgasbord of comedy, trivia, music, mindreading, and drama, with Agnes Moorehead as president of the Orson Welles Swoon Club, The Orson Welles Almanac dominated the radio waves in the 1940s. The hilarious Lucille Ball joins Welles for "The Case of the Blue Bloodstain".
Before NCIS and Law & Order, there was The Black Museum. A 1951 radio crime drama, with Welles as the host and narrator of stories based on Scotland Yard's collection of murder weapons from historical true crime cases. The objects in The Black Museum were all "touched by murder".
Welles used his radio series, Orson Welles Commentaries on ABC, as a political vehicle, continuing his themes from his New York Post column, Orson Welles Today. The NAACP brought the case of Isaac Woodard Jr. to his attention, and on July 28th, 1946 he broadcasted this case of police brutality.
Welles was a frequent player on CBS's anthology program, Suspense, so it is no surprise that he was called upon to star alongside Geraldine Fitzgerald for Agatha Christie's "Philomel Cottage". A mystery wrought with twists and turns, the besotted newlyweds have many questions about the others' past.
Jack Benny was an unparalleled comedian who ruled the airwaves in the golden age of radio. When Benny fell ill, he made the unusual decision to have Orson Welles take over as host. Regarded only as a genius of radio, Welles flexed his comedic chops on the show and proved he had a gift for comedy.
In the debut episode of The Mercury Theatre On The Air, Orson Welles kicked off the series with an adaptation of Bram Stoker's "Dracula". Unlike other adaptations before, this version preserved the book's structure and multiple points of view. Welles voiced both Dracula and Dr. Jack Seward.
"The Hitch-Hiker" tells the tale of a man (voiced by Orson Welles) who sees the same hitchhiker time and time again on his cross-country road trip. It begins to drive him into insanity when other people claim they can't see the man. This script was later turned into an episode of the Twilight Zone.
Sponsored by the Lockheed-Vega Corporation, Ceiling Unlimited was conceived to glorify the aviation industry and dramatize its role in World War II. The program was an effort to pull American support for the war effort and Welles's was later funded by War Assistance Leagues to produce his own shows.
RKO's "The Shadow" was recorded by Orson Welles between 1937 and 1938. It wasn't often that a cultural icon plays a genre role, but before a certain well-documented Martian Invasion shot him to fame, a 22-year-old Orson Welles funded his theatrical productions with radio work, including "The Shadow".