While preforming his next notable role on radio as Lamont Cranston on The Shadow, his career on stage really started to take off with the forming of his Mercury Theater Group with John Houseman. This prompted CBS to offer them the opportunity to create a show, they named after their celebrated theater, The Mercury Theater on the Air...the show would be a modest hit re-creating literary classics like Dracula and Julius Caesar but it was a simple Halloween episode that change Welles career forever.
On October 30, 1938 The Mercury Theater on the Air would present H.G. Welles science fiction classic War of the Worlds, staged in modern day and presented like a real news broadcast the show would confuse over a million radio listeners and create panic all over the country. The invasion by Martians was so real that people took to streets to defend themselves and Orson Welles would become a overnight star.
One show that showcased his talents extremely well was Suspense he appeared many times, on some of the most classic episodes. Welles most memorable performances was on Lucille Fletcher's classic The Hitchhiker. Playing a man driving across country who encounters the same hitchhiker over and over...
The last real show he did was another BBC show called The Black Museum which focused crimes of the Scotland Yard and Welles was the host-narrator.
Welles movie and radio career would start to slip through the 1950's and later through the 60's and 70's his only real work was as a popular talk show guest and voice artist. His achievements on radio were many and notable and his work whether it was as an actor, director, producer, writer in drama, comedy or documentary was always outstanding. Check out these 3 episodes which are some of his best work.
Through out the 1940's and 50's Welles movie career thrived and one of his most famous roles was as Harry Lime in The Third Man. Even though Lime dies in the movie the character proved popular enough that Welles created a show featuring the Adventures of Harry Lime; focusing on Lime's life before the movie.
His last real radio series was in the mid 50's and produced from London England, The Black Museam.