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On This Day: Orson Welles

On this day, 101 years ago, George Orson Welles was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Although best known for his magnum opus Citizen Kane, regularly at or near the top of ‘Best Film of All Time’ lists, Welles’s CV is probably primarily of interest to genre fans for his radio work. He provided the voice (although, interestingly, not the trademark laugh) of Lamont Cranston in the Mutual Broadcasting System’s production of The Shadow, a supernaturally-gifted crime-fighter who was one of the key influences on the creation of Batman. And, of course, his Mercury Theatre company produced what might well be the most notorious radio broadcast in history, 1938’s Hallowe’en production of H. G. WellsThe War of the Worlds.

Welles eschewed the conventional narrative form of the novel for a live-as-it-happens reportage style – thereby convincing many of those who had tuned in too late to hear the introduction that the Earth was indeed being invaded by Martians.

Of course, we’d never fall for that sort of thing, now . . . would we?