Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Orson Welles 100 -- May 6, 2015

Broadcasting, July 15, 1937

Happy 100th birthday to Orson Welles, star of stage, movies, magic, wine commercials and radio.  I wrote a little bit about his movies on my other blog:

This story describes his first job writing and directing for the radio, an adaption of Les Miserables for Mutual.  The "New Drama Technique" was narration. 

Broadcasting, January 15, 1938
Welles played The Shadow in 1937 and 1938.  This article describes it expanding to the Pacific Coast Done Lee network, which was affiliated with Mutual.  It was on a sustaining (unsponsored) basis because sponsor Blue Coal didn't sell its products on the West Coast. 

Broadcasting, June 1, 1938
Welles produced many of his stage successes under the aegis of the Mercury Theater.  When he got a regular radio show on CBS, he called it The Mercury Theater of the Air

Broadcasting, August 15, 1938
By August, CBS was touting Wells as a major drama player/director/writer.  For a short time, the show was called First Person Singular

Broadcasting, September 15, 1938
Welles participated in a course at Columbia University with several other major radio stars. 

Broadcasting, September 15, 1938

CBS carried the show on into the fall and winter. 

Broadcasting, November 15, 1938

That fall, on 30-October-1938, Welles produced an adaption of The War of the Worlds by HG Wells.  The first half of the show was presented as a news broadcast.  Stories vary, but some people took it seriously.  I did not include the continuation of the article, but it is worth looking up. 

Broadcasting, November 15, 1938
In part because of The War of the Worlds, the show gained a sponsor and became Campbell's Playhouse

Broadcasting, November 15, 1938
The fake news broadcast raised some issues. 

Broadcasting, December 15, 1938
The FCC decided not to do anything about The War of the Worlds.

I received a cassette recorder when I was 11 or 12 and used it to record my own radio shows.  One of my first productions was an imitation of "The War of the Worlds," which I had heard on Gene Nelson's old radio show on KSFO.  My father patiently served as the announcer. 

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