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Program looks behind ‘War of the Worlds’ radio legend
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On the Eve of Halloween 1938, a young actor/director broadcast a radio drama based on a 40-year-old novel: “The War of the Worlds.” While the original broadcast featuring Orson Welles had a relatively low audience, the impact it had, and continues to have, on American culture is staggering. But how much of that impact was reality, and how much has been exaggerated over the years? 

The real story will be explored when Laura Keyes speaks at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, at the Great Bend Public Library. Her illustrated presentation is called “A Look Behind Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds.”

Keyes will revisit the 1938 broadcast, answering questions based on years of lore. Were there riots in the streets from panicked listeners, or did most of the audience simply enjoy a well-done piece of theatre? Did Welles know he would frighten listeners, or was this an unintended accident? 

Keyes, the director of the Dunlap (Illinois) Public Library District, graduated from UW-Madison with a master’s degree in library studies, and has been presenting on historic topics for over 10 years. She enjoys researching literary symbolism and is contracted to write a book on that subject.