By Sean Casteel
It is readily apparent that UFOs and their alien occupants are a huge portion of our daily allotment of pop culture influences. It should also be apparent that this is not a case of pop culture exploiting consumer interest in UFOs but represents instead a conscious, deliberate social programming being carried out by the UFO occupants. This distinction may be a subtle one to some, but, for many people working in the UFO community, it is an inescapable one.
The tightly-bound connection between UFOs and pop culture has been the cause of some concern to government officials in the U.K. In the British newspaper “The Sunday Express,” reporter Mark Branagan writes about a study done in the late 1990s.
According to the “Express,” “Secret Special Branch files have revealed that the London Metropolitan Police regarded Mulder and Scully, not to mention Captain Kirk and his ‘Star Trek’ crew, as threats to national security. ‘The X-Files’ and ‘Star Trek’ were among a number of classic shows being monitored as part of a probe into the potential menace of UFO groups. Anti-terrorism experts were also concerned about the brainwashing effect of ‘Dark Skies,’ ‘Roswell,’ ‘Millennium,’ and ‘The Lawnmower Man’ on British viewers. With the clock ticking towards the real Millennium, there were fears that Britain was on the brink of collective UFO madness that would lead to anarchy.”
The dossier was compiled after the mass suicide by America’s Heaven’s Gate doomsday cult, and there were fears something similar might happen in the UK. It was also pointed out that Heaven’s Gate drew inspiration from sci-fi programs like those mentioned above, as did the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas. The latter regarded “The Lawnmower Man” as being an interpretation of the Book of Revelation.
“The problem is that growing numbers are not treating this as entertainment and are finding it impossible to divorce fantasy from reality,” says the unknown author of the Special Branch report. “Although an American phenomenon, it is being imported into the U.K.”
But is alien influence on pop culture really as grim as the Metropolitan Police and Special Branch anti-terrorism experts make out? Publisher and author Timothy Green Beckley thinks not, and, to make his point, he has just released his book “Shirley MacLaine Meets The Pleiadians – Plus The Amazing Flying Saucer Experiences Of Celebrities, Rock Stars And The Rich And Famous.” In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote an opening chapter on Shirley MacLaine’s interest in and fondness for the UFO occupants, who, as the title suggests, come from the Pleiades star cluster, at least according to Shirley.
SHIRLEY MACLAINE, THE TRUE BELIEVER
American actress Shirley MacLaine seems to have long ago crossed over into total and unashamedly public belief in UFOs and may be an important part of the overall cultural programming whether she is totally conscious of playing such a role or not. In her 2007 book, “Sage-ing While Age-ing,” Shirley wrote about how her interest in UFOs began when she was a young woman in Virginia and heard about the now legendary sightings of flying saucers over the nation’s capital.
“It was a Saturday night, in 1952, I know,” she writes, “because I recorded it in my diary. A pilot reported seeing a UFO and two Air Force F-94 jets streaked over Washington in hot pursuit. The next morning the banner headline in ‘The Washington Post’ was ‘SAUCER OUTRAN, JET PILOT REVEALS.’ ‘Life Magazine’ did a cover story called ‘There is a Case for Interplanetary Saucers. Have We Visitors From Outer Space?’ It reviewed ten recent UFO sightings and concluded that they could not be written off as hallucinations, hoaxes or earthly aircraft. An unnamed officer was quoted as saying, ‘The higher up you go in the Air Force, the more seriously they take flying saucers.'”
In that same book, Shirley recounts the story of a party given by actor William Holden to which Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy had been invited. This was in the 1950s, when Reagan was still an actor. He and Nancy arrived an hour late, claiming to have seen a UFO while driving to the party. They said they had stopped to observe it. Reagan said the ship landed and an alien emerged who told him telepathically to quit acting and take up politics. Shirley said she heard the story many years later from Lucille Ball, who was a staunch Democrat and wanted Shirley to know that the conservative Republican Reagan must be crazy.
In another case of a politician sighting a UFO, Congressman Dennis Kucinich suffered no small amount of ridicule after seeing a giant triangular craft hover over him for ten minutes as he stood on the balcony of Shirley’s home in Graham, Washington. Kucinich was later questioned about the incident during a nationally televised presidential debate in 2007, and it is generally assumed his chances for winning the White House died at that moment despite his attempts at face-saving humor.
Shirley’s approach to the UFO phenomenon is decidedly metaphysical. She believes strongly in reincarnation, for example, and claims to have lived former lives as a medieval warrior, an orphan raised by elephants, a Japanese geisha and a model for post-impressionist painter Toulouse-Lautrec. Even her beloved pet rat terrier, Terry, is a reincarnation of the jackal-headed Egyptian god Anubis. In spite of the laughter and jeers such beliefs engender in the public and the media, Shirley says, “I’ve never had the urge to please anybody. I’m used to people thinking I’m wacky, so I don’t take myself seriously.”
THE FREELANCING MR. UFO
As promised by the second part of the title for Tim Beckley’s new Global Communications release, there are many other celebrities who have spoken to Beckley about their UFO encounters. In the 1970s and 80s, when Beckley worked as a freelance reporter for pulp tabloids like “The National Enquirer” and “The Star,” he frequently tracked down major stars for an interview, often working with his partner-in-crime, journalist Harold Salkin. While Beckley was gathering the usual showbiz-type info, he would always slip in a few questions about a given star’s UFO or paranormal experiences.
One major coup for Beckley was his interview with William Shatner in which the actor told about being alone in the Mojave Desert with only a malfunctioning motorcycle standing between him and death in the barren wastes. While Shatner was reluctant to talk about what happened to him that day, Beckley nevertheless elicited a kind of non-comprehending “confession” from Shatner about some unknown presence or force guiding him back to civilization and safety. The section on Shatner includes a word-for-word transcript of their conversation on UFOs and Beckley’s later reflections on what Shatner told him.
Other actors who told Beckley of their otherworldly adventures include Cliff Robertson, Glenn Ford, Ruth Warrick, Anthony Hopkins and Charles Bronson. There is also an exclusive interview with Jackie Gleason about his alleged viewing of the frozen corpses of little alien beings, as shown to him by his golfing buddy, President Richard Nixon. The story is related by Bentwaters witness Larry Warren, who visited the “big man” in his Westchester County home and got the nitty-gritty on what Gleason saw directly from the comedian/actor himself.
In spite of the possibility of seeing their reputations forever tainted by “lunatic fringe” beliefs, a great many major Hollywood names were willing to open up and speak frankly with Beckley as he scribbled down their stories of close encounters with the Great Unknown.
SMILING JIMI HENDRIX GETS RESCUED BY ALIENS
Beckley also had many contacts in the rock music scene, including a man named Curtis Knight, who used to perform with the legendary electric guitar virtuoso Jimi Hendrix before Jimi became an acclaimed superstar.
According to Knight, he and Jimi and the rest of the band were in Woodstock, New York, returning from a gig in the winter months of 1965. Their car became trapped in a snowdrift with the snow reaching as high as the vehicle’s hood. The windows were rolled up and the heater was going full blast, but Knight still feared they would die from exposure to the cold.
All at once, the road in front of them lit up as a bright, phosphorescent object landed in the snow about 100 feet ahead. It stood on tripod landing gear and looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. Knight wondered if he was hallucinating as he prodded Jimi to wake up. Jimi smiled and stared out into the night at the object but made no comment. Knight was unable to rouse the three other members of the band and feared they might be succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust fumes and the closed windows.
At that point, a very frightened Knight saw a door open on the ship and an eight-foot-tall entity emerge. The being glided toward the trapped occupants of the van, generating enough heat as he moved to melt the death-dealing snow. Knight recalls feeling that Jimi was communicating telepathically with the alien visitor. Suddenly, the inside of the van warmed up and the snow around the vehicle evaporated, making it possible for the group to make the drive back to Manhattan without further incident.
As in the story William Shatner told Beckley, the alien contact for Jimi and Curtis Knight seemed to be for the purpose of making a lifesaving rescue, as though the future path laid out for these entertainment luminaries was not something to be trifled with by near misses with “accidental” death.
Hendrix included UFO-themed lyrics in many of his songs and gave a concert on the Hawaiian island of Maui at which he held court with other concertgoers and revealed his fascination with otherworldly matters. The “UFO Fest” is archived on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocaEJVEpllc
WHITE WITCH WALLI ELMLARK AND HER MANY ROCKER FRIENDS
When it came to making journalistic connections with rock stars, Beckley relied a great deal on his friend, Walli Elmlark, who billed herself as the White Witch of New York. The two first met when Beckley was running the New York School of Occult Arts and Sciences in Manhattan in the early 1970s. Walli worked as a writer for “Circus Magazine,” a music publication that covered mainly the hard rock portion of the pop spectrum.
It was around this time that rock superstar David Bowie was in his “metaphysical” stage. Bowie would often consult Walli on career moves and more private situations because of her reputation as a highly sensitive psychic. When Bowie spoke to Beckley in the RCA recording studios in Manhattan, Bowie said, “I’m very much interested in science fiction. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea that life might exist elsewhere in the universe and the possibility that space beings might be traveling to Earth.”
The storyline for Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” character centers on an alien who comes to Earth and becomes a show business sensation in the dying, decadent last days of our planet. Some of his fans believed Bowie’s music was of deep significance and had been inspired by the artist’s own real-life alien contact. What is not generally known, Beckley tells us, is that Bowie put together a UFO magazine while still a youth in his native England. Along with his magazine chums, Bowie had frequent sightings there as well, sometimes as many as five or six alien craft at a time.
“They would come on a regular basis,” Bowie told Beckley, “to the point where we could time them. Sometimes they just stood still, while other times they moved about oh so fast that it was hard to keep a steady eye on them.”
THE “WIZZARD’S” CONSOLING WORDS
Walli Elmlark also felt a deep connection to Marc Bolan, who, with his band T. Rex, had long topped the charts here and around the world. Walli believed that many popular rock stars were being reincarnated here on Earth at this specific time in history to bring a positive change in our cultural attitudes.
Marc, along with Robert Fripp of King Crimson, Bowie and a techno-music composer called simply Eno, were amazed by Walli’s work in the spiritual community and decided a spoken-word album that they could get behind might propel her teachings to a mass audience. Walli traveled to the UK to record the album, which was to be called “The Cosmic Children.” The album would include musical interludes by the aforementioned rock music composers. “The Cosmic Children” project was never completed, however, and the original spoken-word tapes are believed to have been destroyed.
“I know Walli used to be particularly enthralled with the ‘cosmic charm’ of Marc Bolan, who many knew as the ‘Wizzard,'” Beckley writes.
“I have had to meet hundreds of ‘pop’ stars,” Walli told Beckley, “but it is a rare name that I can’t wait to meet. Marc Bolan was one. I had gotten a very definite impression of what Marc’s thinking would be like from listening to his lyrics. They are filled with allusions to wizards, priestesses, planet queens and other varied cosmic complexities.”
Walli described the scene when she interviewed Marc, who was doing a whirlwind of promotional interviews at the time.
“We went into a back room and I sat on the floor next to him,” she recalled. “I listened to him try to explain to a large woman that none of us ever really die. Naturally, we believe in reincarnation. He spoke of cosmic awareness, mind power, the fact that he spends a lot of time with gypsies ‘because they are not into formal schooling. They KNOW!'”
As Walli’s photographer busied himself shooting pictures of Marc, Walli suddenly blurted, “I wish I could go insane or die at times. But I’m not allowed.”
“Of course you’re not,” Marc consoled her. “You are one of the children, you know that.”
Walli and Marc looked at each other and their mutual understanding was unmistakable. But the rock star and the White Witch never met again. Walli later took her own life and Marc died in a car accident in 1977 at the age of twenty-nine.
CULTURAL CHANGES THAT CAME “AFTER THE GOLD RUSH”
Beckley is not alone in his belief that rock stardom and alien contact are intertwined in various ways. Prominent Canadian researcher and author Grant Cameron has made a solid reputation in the UFO community by examining U.S. presidents and their public – and sometimes more private – statements and attitudes about possible alien visitation. Lately, Cameron has been speaking and writing about the idea that aliens heavily influenced many of the songs composed in the rock music era. One example he cites is “After the Gold Rush,” by Neil Young.
“The lyrics talk about lying in a burned-out basement and having a dream where the sun bursts out during the full moon,” Cameron explains. “The lyrics indicate that the world has pillaged the environment and the world is now in trouble – ‘Mother Nature on the run.’ In Young’s song, the silver saucers will then appear and take the chosen ones to another planet – ‘a new home in the sun.’ There are a number of experiencers who describe a similar Rapture-type event caused by environmental disaster.”
Nearly 30 years after Young first released 1970’s “After the Gold Rush,” singers Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt were set to record their own version of the song for a collaborative album called “Trio Two.” Dolly was a little confused about what Young’s lyrics were intended to mean, so the women gave the composer a phone call and asked him directly.
“We asked him,” Parton said, “flat out, what it meant, and he said, ‘Hell, I don’t know. I just wrote it. It just depends on what I was taking at the time. I guess every verse has something different I’d taken.'”
Cameron notes that Young was not unique among rock musicians in admitting that he was on drugs when he came up with the lyrics to a given song. But for Cameron, the question remains as to where the alien and environmental references in Young’s song came from. The rise in social consciousness that began in the 1960s was all generated by young people and their musical idols, he theorizes, and looking back it appears that many of those key musical icons had UFO experiences.
Those massive cultural changes could not have happened without aliens to guide the process, he feels, and serious study should be given to this kind of UFOlogy in an effort to analyze exactly how the aliens’ “plan for humanity” is being implemented through entertainers and pop culture in general.
“The musicians also brought the message of love,” Cameron writes, “which seems to be the key message both of the Universe and the UFO occupants. The message seems to be that there is no time, space, gravity, good or bad. There is just fear and love, and we should move towards love.”
JOHN LENNON’S NEED FOR UFO LOVE
Cameron’s view of things may seem a little simplistic, even naïve, but it’s certainly the message John Lennon delivered when he sang “All You Need Is Love” with his fellow Beatles. And John wasn’t left out when it came to having his own personal UFO contact experience.
As Beckley reports in “Shirley MacLaine Meets The Pleiadians,” John was standing on the balcony in all his naked glory when his New York penthouse was buzzed by a vehicle from another world. Beckley made the acquaintance of May Pang, an American-born Asian beauty who worked as Lennon’s personal assistant for almost three years. When Lennon and wife Yoko Ono went their separate ways for a time, Pang took up residence with Lennon in Yoko’s absence.
“John was always fascinated with the unusual,” Pang told Beckley in an interview conducted in her apartment. “He was always caught up in his fate, his destiny. He was trying to understand his greatness and the impact he had on millions growing up in a very confused, almost lost generation.”
Pang was happy to fill in the details of John’s sighting because she had been right there with him when it happened.
“We had just ordered up some pizza,” her story began, “and since it was such a warm evening we decided to step out on the terrace. There were no windows directly facing us from across the street, so John just stepped outside with nothing on in order to catch a cool breeze that was coming in off the East River. I remember I was just inside the bedroom getting dressed when John started shouting for me to come out onto the terrace.”
Pang yelled back that she would be right there, but John kept screaming that she was to come that very instant.
“As I walked out onto the terrace,” Pang continued, “my eye caught this large, circular object coming towards us. It was shaped like a flattened cone, and on top was a large, brilliant red light, not pulsating as on any of the aircraft we’d see heading for a landing at Newark Airport.”
Pang said she and John stood there mesmerized and unbelieving. When the craft came a little closer, the pair could make out a row or circle of white lights that ran around the rim of the ship. The lights flashed on and off and were dazzling to behold. As they watched, spellbound, the UFO moved directly over the next building. Pang says it was the size of a Lear Jet and was so close they could have thrown a rock and hit it quite easily.
The object passed out of sight, but when it returned they were able to set up a telescope, hoping for a closer view. The light was so intense, however, that they were unable to see any further details. John and Pang took a couple of photos but, as is often the case when photographing UFOs, the pictures were “overexposed.” The excited couple phoned the “The New York Daily News,” who informed them that at least seven other reports had come in that night. When they also called the police, they were told to keep calm. The police also confirmed that other similar reports of the same object had been received.
John spent the rest of the night in a state of awe, saying over and over “I can’t believe I’ve seen a flying saucer.” John later made mention of the sighting in the cover art for his 1974 “Walls and Bridges” album. In a song called “Nobody Told Me (There’d Be Days Like This),” John tosses off the line, “There’s UFOs over New York, and I ain’t too surprised.” The song had been left incomplete before he died and was eventually finished and released by Yoko Ono on a posthumous album called “Milk and Honey” in 1984.
“John had always had an interest in UFOs,” Pang told Beckley. “He even used to subscribe to a British UFO magazine, ‘The Flying Saucer Review.’ But after seeing what we saw that night, he became even more fanatical, bringing up the subject all the time.”
MUCH MORE UFO POP CULTURE TO COME
We get the “coming of the aliens” message from TV, movies and popular culture continually now. From Shirley MacLaine to rock superstars like John Lennon and Neil Young, the list goes on. The aliens’ message, as delivered by so many celebrities in so many ways, forecasts the inevitable – and inescapable – appearance on the world scene of an otherworldly force who has given us all plenty of fair warning.
But in terms of sheer entertainment value, you can’t do any better than “Shirley MacLaine Meets The Pleiadians Plus The Amazing Flying Saucer Experiences Of Celebrities, Rock Stars And The Rich and Famous.” This article has covered only a brief sampling of what the book has to offer, focusing mainly on rock musicians. But watch this space for more articles from both Timothy Green Beckley and myself on this fascinating look at celebrity UFO contact. UFOs can be said to be a great “equalizer” that leaves even the most jaded pop culture icon in a state of reverence and awe. There’s nothing like alien contact to remind us that we’re all mere mortals.