Keel fans have obviously enjoyed seeing his jottings, so here are some more from the same notebook. Included here are messages that I presume were passed along by contactees; Connie Carpenter’s unpleasant interaction with a disturbing stranger; more notes on sightings; and, finally, the message that John sent to a UFO via flashlight. This last, by the way, occurred the same night as the landing that I posted last time. Both events are described further in Chapter 10 of The Mothman Prophecies.
This weekend the tenth “Mothman Festival” is taking place in Point Pleasant. It’s organized by Jeff Wamsley; details are here. So, now seems a good time for some of John’s notes from Point Pleasant.
These pages come from a small notebook he used on his trips there. Most of the book is taken up with the nuts and bolts of reportage: names, phone numbers, and directions. Here are some of the more interesting pages. There are no great revelations, but you get to see John at work; and his notes for April 3, 1967 are particularly vivid.
1966 was a pivotal year for John. He had been working in television, and growing increasingly dissatisfied with the world of one-liners and game shows. He turned to UFOs; and, like many before and after him, became fascinated with the subject. Beginning with this post, I’ll share some of his correspondence from that year, as he moved from a career in show business to focus on ufolology and forteana.
In January, he wrote to Senator Robert Kennedy, of all people, to complain about the way the Air Force was handling sightings.
Kennedy’s office replied with a short, polite, and dismissive note.
John followed this up with another letter. The statement that he had “been assigned to do an in-depth probe into this subject for PLAYBOY magazine” was somewhat of an exaggeration. He had pitched a UFO article to the editor, who agreed to look at it if John was willing to write on spec. His interaction with Playboy did not go well; I’ll post some material on that next. Meanwhile, the thought of John Keel and Robert Kennedy meeting to discuss UFOs is intriguing; however, the correspondence ended there.
In the early 1970s, John started to make a film about UFOs. He never finished it. It wasn’t too complicated; it consisted mostly of him speaking to the camera, with occasional shots of relevant books and photos. He shot it in regular 8mm, with magnetic sound, which was, unfortunately, a particularly difficult format. The rough cut has survived: it shows John, in some flamboyant ’70s fashions (he favored ruffles and paisley at the time), delivering his lines before a variety of backgrounds. Apparently the sound was hard to regulate, as his voice is recorded at different speeds, and occasionally drowned out by background noise.
I’m not sure where he planned to show it. It looks as if it was a lot of work. Perhaps he wanted a more elaborate version of one of his talks, something that he could show at conventions. It’s fairly unwatchable in its current state (unless there’s an unsuspected audience for mod Keel on helium); we’ll see if we can standardize the speed. Meanwhile, it does contain some interesting footage of James Moseley interviewing Woodrow Derenberger; I hope to post that online soon.
John also left a packet of script pages and index cards. Here, then, is the beginning, and one of the cards that he used while shooting.
For the final issue of his marketing newsletter, John vents about mail-order swindles and passes along news from colleagues.