April 10, 2011

David Letterman Interviews John Keel

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:14 pm

David Letterman interviewed John Keel on July 28, 1980.  They discussed forteana, strange rains, creature sightings — and a cast of a Bigfoot footprint.  Letterman was more curious than dismissive, and John did a great job.  And you can watch it here.

Again, thanks to Anthony Matt and Angela Alverson for technical help.

ADDENDUM:  As Loren Coleman has pointed out, the footprint cast in this clip was actually made by Edward Shipton in Nepal.  It has a troubled history: see here for photos of it, as well as some of the charges of hoaxing.  As was often the case, John made factual errors; the evidence in question is suspect; and he nevertheless made a great case for a Fortean perspective within a mainstream context.  The fact that Forteana is riddled with errors and hoaxes just goes with the territory — and, of course, errors and hoaxes are not unique to Forteana!


  1. John Keel badly misidentified the cast he showed on that David Letterman appearance in the video noted here.

    It is a cast from a footprint in snow of the Eric Shipton-discovered track found in Nepal in 1951. It allegedly was made by a Yeti or Abominable Snowman. It is most definitely NOT a Sasquatch or Bigfoot print. And not, as Keel proclaimed, a cast of an authentic Bigfoot print from New Jersey.

    His source of confusion seems to have stemmed from the origins of this gift to him, present by two gentlemen, Forteans, who lived in New Jersey.

    Comment by Loren Coleman — April 12, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

  2. So it is! In fact, I now recognize it from the cover of Ivan Sanderson’s Abominable Snowmen.

    Comment by Doug — April 12, 2011 @ 3:16 pm

  3. uh…yeah.. yeti/bigfoot [eye roll]…whatever…John is very charming!

    Comment by Angela — April 12, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

  4. Of course, John was charming, engaging, and, indeed, “performing” on the David Letterman show.

    I was an active friend and a colleague of John’s, and, no way, should my clarification of the origins of the cast be seen as an attempt to dismiss his appearance. I am merely doing what John did all the time, setting straight the Fortean facts of this specific artifact. The SITU-aligned folks that gave him the cast were from NJ, and Keel was merely spinning a story for his television audience to make his point.

    Comment by Loren Coleman — April 16, 2011 @ 6:44 am

  5. All right, you two, play nice…

    That cast eventually became separated from its backing, and floated around John’s apartment. We once came across it when I was helping him clean his kitchen. It later broke when I had to call an ambulance for John, and the crew tossed things aside to get to him. But I’ve glued it back together; it’s been saved for posterity!

    Comment by Doug — April 16, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  6. Doug, you are so very charming. For you…I’ll play nice.

    Comment by Angela — April 18, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  7. This is great! I’ve been waiting over 20 years to see this interview. Thanks for posting Doug.

    Comment by Jerry Hamm — April 19, 2011 @ 12:52 am

  8. You’re welcome, Jerry! Sorry you had to wait so long…

    Comment by Doug — April 19, 2011 @ 9:20 am

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