Tuesday, October 31, 2006

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!................... Scott

October 31, 1926

Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th
century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital. Twelve days before, Houdini
had been talking to a group of students after a lecture in Montreal when he
commented on the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand
hard blows. Suddenly, one of the students punched Houdini twice in the stomach.
The magician hadn't had time to prepare, and the blows ruptured his appendix. He
fell ill on the train to Detroit, and, after performing one last time, was
hospitalized. Doctors operated on him, but to no avail. The burst appendix
poisoned his system, and on October 31 he died.Houdini was born Erik Weisz in
Budapest in 1874, the son of a rabbi. At a young age, he immigrated with his
family to Appleton, Wisconsin, and soon demonstrated a natural acrobatic ability
and an extraordinary skill at picking locks. When he was nine, he joined a
traveling circus and toured the country as a contortionist and trapeze
performer. He soon was specializing in escape acts and gained fame for his
reported ability to escape from any manacle. He went on his first international
tour in 1900 and performed all over Europe to great acclaim. In executing his
escapes, he relied on strength, dexterity, and concentration--not trickery--and
was a great showman.In 1908, Houdini began performing more dangerous and
dramatic escapes. In a favorite act, he was bound and then locked in an
ironbound chest that was dropped into a water tank or thrown off a boat. In
another, he was heavily bound and then suspended upside down in a glass-walled
water tank. Other acts featured Houdini being hung from a skyscraper in a
straitjacket, or bound and buried--without a coffin--under six feet of dirt.In
his later years, Houdini campaigned against mediums, mind readers, fakirs, and
others who claimed supernatural talents but depended on tricks. At the same
time, he was deeply interested in spiritualism and made a pact with his wife and
friends that the first to die was to try and communicate with the world of
reality from the spirit world. Several of these friends died, but Houdini never
received a sign from them. Then, on Halloween 1926, Houdini himself passed on at
the age of 52. His wife waited for a communiquý from the spirit world but it
never came; she declared the experiment a failure shortly before her death in


October 30, 1938

Orson Welles causes a nationwide panic with his broadcast of "War of the
Worlds"--a realistic radio dramatization of a Martian invasion of Earth.Orson
Welles was only 23 years old when his Mercury Theater company decided to update
H.G. Wells' 19th-century science fiction novel War of the Worlds for national
radio. Despite his age, Welles had been in radio for several years, most notably
as the voice of "The Shadow" in the hit mystery program of the same name. "War
of the Worlds" was not planned as a radio hoax, and Welles had little idea of
the havoc it would cause.The show began on Sunday, October 30, at 8 p.m. A voice
announced: "The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present
Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the air in 'War of the Worlds' by H.G.
Wells."Sunday evening in 1938 was prime-time in the golden age of radio, and
millions of Americans had their radios turned on. But most of these Americans
were listening to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy "Charlie McCarthy" on
NBC and only turned to CBS at 8:12 p.m. after the comedy sketch ended and a
little-known singer went on. By then, the story of the Martian invasion was well
underway.Welles introduced his radio play with a spoken introduction, followed
by an announcer reading a weather report. Then, seemingly abandoning the
storyline, the announcer took listeners to "the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park
Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramon
Raquello and his orchestra." Putrid dance music played for some time, and then
the scare began. An announcer broke in to report that "Professor Farrell of the
Mount Jenning Observatory" had detected explosions on the planet Mars. Then the
dance music came back on, followed by another interruption in which listeners
were informed that a large meteor had crashed into a farmer's field in Grovers
Mills, New Jersey.Soon, an announcer was at the crash site describing a Martian
emerging from a large metallic cylinder. "Good heavens," he declared,
"something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now here's another
and another one and another one. They look like tentacles to me ... I can see
the thing's body now. It's large, large as a bear. It glistens like wet leather.
But that face, it ...it ... ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can
hardly force myself to keep looking at it, it's so awful. The eyes are black and
gleam like a serpent. The mouth is kind of V-shaped with saliva dripping from
its rimless lips that seem to quiver and pulsate."The Martians mounted walking
war machines and fired "heat-ray" weapons at the puny humans gathered around the
crash site. They annihilated a force of 7,000 National Guardsman, and after
being attacked by artillery and bombers the Martians released a poisonous gas
into the air. Soon "Martian cylinders" landed in Chicago and St. Louis. The
radio play was extremely realistic, with Welles employing sophisticated sound
effects and his actors doing an excellent job portraying terrified announcers
and other characters. An announcer reported that widespread panic had broken out
in the vicinity of the landing sites, with thousands desperately trying to flee.
In fact, that was not far from the truth.Perhaps as many as a million radio
listeners believed that a real Martian invasion was underway. Panic broke out
across the country. In New Jersey, terrified civilians jammed highways seeking
to escape the alien marauders. People begged police for gas masks to save them
from the toxic gas and asked electric companies to turn off the power so that
the Martians wouldn't see their lights. One woman ran into an Indianapolis
church where evening services were being held and yelled, "New York has been
destroyed! It's the end of the world! Go home and prepare to die!"When news of
the real-life panic leaked into the CBS studio, Welles went on the air as
himself to remind listeners that it was just fiction. There were rumors that the
show caused suicides, but none were ever confirmed.The Federal Communications
Commission investigated the program but found no law was broken. Networks did
agree to be more cautious in their programming in the future. Orson Welles
feared that the controversy generated by "War of the Worlds" would ruin his
career. In fact, the publicity helped land him a contract with a Hollywood
studio, and in 1941 he directed, wrote, produced, and starred in Citizen Kane--a
movie that many have called the greatest American film ever made.


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