On Halloween evening, 1938, actor and future filmmaker Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast his adaptation of H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel The War of the Worlds over the CBS Radio Network. Reimagined as a series of radio news broadcasts, it was said to have caused panic among credulous listeners nationwide.
In 1959, actor George Reeves (Gone With the Wind), who had finally found fame playing Superman in the first feature film based on a DC comics character, Superman and the Mole Men, and the subsequent 1952 TV series The Adventures of Superman, died of a gunshot wound to the head, in his home. The death was ruled suicide, but Reeves’ mother paid for a reinvestigation of the case as a possible homicide.
The Mercury Theatre panic and the private investigation of Reeves’ death were the subjects, respectively, of a television play in 1957 and a film in 2006.