Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Glenn Beck is a huge fan of Orson Welles and his 1938 radio production of "The War of the Worlds"

Apparently, radio host, bestselling author, television journalist, and political commentator Glenn Beck is a huge fan of Orson Welles and his dramatic 1938 science fictional “The War of the Worlds” radio production. Consider the following points, most of which I took from the book Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance (2010), by Alexander Zaitchik:

  • In 1972, for his eighth birthday, Beck received from his mother a double-record collection of comedic and dramatic radio productions titled The Golden Years of Radio. One program in particular caught Beck’s interest and launched his life-long fascination with radio: Welles’s infamous 1938 production of H.G. Wells’s novel The War of the Worlds (1898).
  • In the late 1980’s, Beck attended Seahome High School in Bellingham, Washington, where he took a drama class whose teacher shared his love of Golden Age radio. One of the class projects involved visiting the studios of the local station WGMI, where Beck and his peers produced Welles’s “The War of the Worlds,” complete with live scripts and sound effects.
  • In 2002, Beck founded Mercury Radio Arts, a production company named in honor of Mercury Radio Theatre, which was founded by Welles back in 1937. The first, third, and fourth clips in The Glenn Beck Program’s introductory sound montage are taken from the 1938 radio production of “The War of the Worlds,” including Welles’s famous utterance, “Across an immense ethereal gulf . . .”
  • In 2003, Beck and his Mercury Radio Arts re-created a live broadcast of Welles’ 1938 “The War of the Worlds” production.
  • In 2003, Beck wrote in his book The Real America: Messages from the Heart and Heartland: “I have enormous respect for Orson Welles the dreamer, not Orson Welles the person. Welles destroyed himself by allowing his ego to trap him in his past. He lost sight of what could be and focused on what could have been—which is why a man who possessed on of the most uniquely creative minds of the century ended up begging friends for money while doing card tricks and died penniless.”
  • In 2010, Beck revealed that he has a photograph of Welles in his office at Mercury Radio Arts.

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