ORIGINAL CAST PROFILES – William Herz
As of this article…William Herz is the last surviving member of the War of the Worlds broadcast. He has recently been seen at various radio-themed events as an honored guest.
During the War of the Worlds broadcast, Herz portrayed “Radio Operator 8X3R”, and the Newark radio operator who informs the citizens of dire consequences of a Martian invasion.
The following are transcribed quotations of Herz’s, all regarding his impressions of Orson Welles and The Mercury Theater (from the PBS documentary “The Battle Over Citizen Kane“):
(On Orson Welles) “Well, I can only tell you you had to have a strong, strong stomach, because he was a genius, but he was a difficult man to work with.”
“He only looked about twenty-one, and maybe he might have been twenty-two. He was awfully young, and he was a man who–he didn’t think. He just did.”
“He went on a tear one night, and he went through the Ritz Carlton Hotel–one floor–breaking down all the doors, and scaring the inhabitants to death, most of the inhabitants being fellow actors. The next day, the manager called and said, ‘There’s about forty thousand dollars worth of damage.”’
(On The Mercury Theater on the Air) “People were switching dials all the time, and we were on between Winchell and Jack Benny, and we were not a–a very popular program.”
(On the reaction to War of the Worlds) “Well, during the course of the broadcast, which was an hour, we noticed uniformed policemen in the lobby.”…”It’s the only time that, in all the years that I worked with Orson that I ever saw him slightly afraid. I don’t think that he quite knew what was going to happen. It’s very possible that he thought that this could have ended his career, but it did exactly the opposite.”