August 11, 2009


Filed under: — admin @ 8:32 pm

This site is a tribute to that unique writer and character, John A. Keel. It’s maintained by Doug Skinner, in memory of a friendship of some nineteen years. The site will develop from week to week, so check back and see what happens. I’ll see you in time!

The title of the site comes from the calling card John used in India in the 1950s.



  1. Wow…. the more I come back to Keel the more respect I have for his place in the scheme of things. He was literally a true pioneer. I think closer to Fort than lets say Vallee…

    I have been re-reading Trojan Horse and came across some info in there about the ‘silent contactees’. I remember the X-Files had some character(s) I think would fall into that group and Roswell had one- somebody that would simply disappear from time to time and return.

    And Keel speaks about this silent group- and one or two in particular- in Trojan Horse. Very strange cases… probably the heart of whatever is really going on.

    And then I find these drawings on your site… never heard or seen of them before… I know it says they are from the silent contactees.. I haven’t been on this site for any length of time to know anything about their origins… so I will have to look at what you say. The drawings definitely look … odd.

    Please feel free to email me. Keel’s influence is a great deal more ubiquitous than I think probably even he realized. I know he was aware that his findings and research had ‘rubbed off’ on many people… to be polite. I don’t think he realized just how influential he really is… even now. Thanks!

    Comment by James — July 5, 2012 @ 11:32 am

  2. Hi, James; I’m glad to hear you enjoy the site. The silent contactees were simply contactees who didn’t publicize their experiences. They were willing to talk to researchers, but wanted to keep it private. John’s relationship to them was complicated; they were, to put it mildly, unreliable sources.

    I don’t know anything about those drawings either. John made xerox copies of them, so I assume he circulated them. I’m guessing that Jaye Paro had a hand in them, but that’s just a guess.

    It’s funny that you mention the “X-Files”: he said they called him up to pump him for story ideas, but didn’t want to pay him. He declined.

    Comment by Doug — July 5, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  3. I am a research scientist long interested in John Keel’s work and ideas. Does the unedited original manuscript of OPERATION TROJAN HORSE survive? It would do a great service to his meticulous research for it to be published as a new expanded third edition of the book.

    Comment by Liam Roscrea — August 27, 2012 @ 3:18 am

  4. I’m not sure if the original draft survived. The cut parts were reworked into Strange Creatures, just as The Eighth Tower grew from The Mothman Prophecies. A draft of the original Playboy article (also called “Operation Trojan Horse”) has survived, along with correspondence about it, both to his editors and to other researchers. I plan to post some of that material soon; it shows John diving into the field with his usual gusto.

    Comment by Doug — August 27, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  5. I’m glad to hear that case material cut from TROJAN HORSE was eventually published, but I am as interested in how it would have fit in with the original scheme for the book, as he describes it in the Foreword to the original 1970 edition: “[The] book is a summation of that effort. The original manuscript was more than 2,000 pages long. It has been boiled down and carefully edited to its present length. In the process, a good deal of documentation and many details have been deleted or heavily condensed. I had hoped to include acknowledgment of my many sources and of the many people who helped me in this task. But that proved to be impossible. More than 2,000 books were reviewed in the course of this study, in addition to thousands of magazines, newsletters, and newspapers. Since it is not feasible to list them all, I have included a selected bibliography, listing those works which proved to be the most valid and useful.” In other words, as Keel himself says, he was attempting a work of scrupulous scholarship. But the published version does not even include a selected bibliography, though he said it did. Is it possible that the manuscript is preserved in the archives of G. P. Putnam’s? Keel’s description suggests that he had written a veritable magnum opus!

    Comment by Liam Roscrea — August 28, 2012 @ 1:26 am

  6. Well, we’re still going through John’s papers, so I’ll certainly look for the longer manuscript. I suspect, though, that John simply cannibalized the deleted passages, and didn’t keep the unsaleable manuscript intact. A five-page bibliography was included in the original Putnam’s edition; but was cut from the 1996 IllumiNet edition, probably because it was out of date by then. John also included a UFO bibliography in his article “The Flying Saucer Subculture” (Journal of Popular Culture, 1975). It’s similar, though shorter and updated.

    Comment by Doug — August 28, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

  7. Thanks for clarifying that, because though I read the original version in paperback, the only copy I own is the IllumiNet edition, which as you note contains no bibliography. Partly I mention the unedited manuscript because in light of it, his work takes on a very different character (and value) from the standpoint of scholarship and science, different from the mostly journalistic reportage that we know from his published books. Why the “scholarly apparatus” was omitted from the published TROJAN HORSE must have been the decision of the publisher (or their in house editor). As a professional journalist Keel probably sent his original typescript to the publisher for review and kept a carbon copy for himself. So there were probably two copies of the text to start with, because no writer worth his salt would submit his only copy of a manuscript. Of course, if Putnam’s sent the original back to Keel for editing, they might not have retained a copy. Again, if Putnam’s has an archive, they may be able to answer this question, as even contract files might contain info about the manuscript and its alteration/disposition.

    Comment by Liam Roscrea — August 29, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  8. Doug:

    Bless you for giving a damn about John Keel. A wonderful ‘site. The first one I visit every day.

    Bill Grabowski

    If you’re interested, I have articles at, and a UFO/Paranormal blog at

    I’m a freelance writer and copy-editor for Samhain Publishing. Currently I’m finishing a nonfiction book, BLACK LIGHT: PERSPECTIVES ON MYSTERIOUS PHENOMENA.

    Simply put, you have a big heart.

    All best,

    Bill G

    Comment by William J. Grabowski — September 1, 2012 @ 8:05 am

  9. Bill — Thanks! I knew John for 19 years, was one of the group of friends that kept him going in his later years, and, somehow, ended up being the one left at his deathbed. I’ll check out your articles and blog.

    Liam — We may still uncover more files on OTH! Right now, I’m going through the correspondence about the rejected “Playboy” article that started it all. I’ll look for further correspondence on the book as it developed. I suppose I should add that although John had every intention of being scientific and scholarly, he had no academic training, and always wrote for the marketplace; so I’m not sure how much more scholarly the first draft would have been. But we’ll see!

    Comment by Doug — September 2, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

  10. Thank you, Doug, and certainly you deserve a lot of credit for your interest and support of Keel and his work, a man who was evidently a sort of Lowell Thomas of the bizarre. If one reads the opening gambit of OTH, it is clear that Keel’s ambition was one of rigor and exactitude, and I suspect he got some tutoring on how best to sort and analyze the raft of reports that inundated him from the clipping services, because the skills shown are not just those of the average journalist. He might have just read a little about elementary statistical analysis, but I would guess he got some guidance about statistical methodology and its rationales (perhaps from Jacques Vallee?) He made no apologies for his lack of academic training, but forged ahead as an independent scholar (like any typical headstrong Aries, for that matter), as evident from this declaration of his intentions: “I have tried to apply the standard rules of scholarship wherever possible (etc.)”

    I still don’t know what was meant by Keel’s “mind-blowing philosophy” or what exactly he meant by “philosophy,” except that he seems to allude to things said by Wilbert Smith in this regard (ultimately elaborated in Smith’s rather arcane posthumously published “Alien Science” which similarly talks of “philosophy” by which he really means elementary metaphysics going back to the ancient Greeks, viz “atoms and the void”). My guess therefore is that Keel was referring to the study of metaphysics (what philosophers call “ontology,” i.e., the study or reality).

    Comment by Liam Roscrea — September 2, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  11. Liam — John was certainly no average journalist! He put an extraordinary amount of time and work into the book. He probably did read some books on statistics (he was, as he put it, a “reading machine”). He may also have gotten some pointers from Ivan Sanderson, who had a solid scientific background; I don’t think he was that close to Vallee. His methodology was not always impeccable: sometimes finding the same detail in two witness reports was enough for him to verify them. But then, he was deluged with strangeness in the late ’60s, and was often frankly overwhelmed.

    I’m not sure what he meant by “philosophy” either; your guess sounds about right. He told me that Sartre had been a big influence on him, but I don’t really see it in his work.

    Comment by Doug — September 2, 2012 @ 11:50 pm

  12. First of all, thanks so much for putting this website together. I just happened upon it today – it’s been a couple of years since I attempted to trawl for John Keel articles/interviews online, and back then I had little success. It’s a delight to discover such a range of pieces preserved and shared here. Your efforts are very much appreciated, and I’ll be checking back in regularly.

    A quick question – do you have any plans to share the contents of the NYFS meeting cassette recordings (as glimpsed here: If someone could play out the tapes to recording software & render them as mp3s for online sharing, that would be fantastic!

    Comment by Michael — September 10, 2012 @ 9:34 am

  13. Thanks! Yes, I do plan to get to those tapes, as well as some other tapes of radio and TV appearances. Right now, Anthony Matt and I (Anthony was another of John’s friends) are making digital transfers of John’s films before they fall apart. But do check back!

    Comment by Doug — September 10, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  14. John’s films on DVD — I’d buy one.

    Comment by Jerry Hamm — September 14, 2012 @ 12:33 am

  15. I would really like to thank you for this site. John Keel was such an inspiration to me and I really resonated with his view on UFO’s and the Paranormal. I remember some of the patterns he described way back (such as the flickering lights, and then the manifestations) and I saw these same patterns described on such shows as UFO Files – and then saw these later investigators fall so short by strictly sticking to the “Nuts-n-Bolts” aspects of the UFO enigma. It is amazing to me that John Keel isn’t a more honored name in the field of Paranormal Research.

    I paid homage to him in my paranormal mystery children’s book “The Adventures of Victoria Noire and Friends” in hopes that intelligent Googling might gain him a few more young fans. The Mothman Prophecies is one of my most read books, and I find something new every time I read it.

    I deeply wish Mr. Keel was still around to give us more of his insight, wit and humor.

    Best regards, and thanks again.

    Comment by Mark — November 12, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

  16. You’re quite welcome; glad you enjoy the site.

    Comment by Doug — November 13, 2012 @ 8:10 am

  17. Hi Doug,

    I just uploaded an excerpt from JADOO, Published by REAL ADVENTURE magazine, Vol. C, #1, January 1958.
    Excerpt contains photos that are not in the book, JADOO, which contained no photos.

    Comment by Jerry Hamm — August 18, 2013 @ 2:29 am

  18. Very nice! I suspect, though, that the magazine found those photos, and that John had nothing to do with them. He seldom had any say in illustrations.

    Comment by Doug — August 19, 2013 @ 12:02 am

  19. Hi Doug:

    Will we get to hear any of John Keel’s recordings of the conversations he had with ultraterrestrial beings? That would be awesome.


    Comment by Becky — December 12, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

  20. I don’t know of any such recordings! John did correspond with a certain “Mr. Apol,” whom he believed to be some sort of non-human, and I posted some of those letters on this site.

    Comment by Doug — December 13, 2013 @ 11:13 pm

  21. I’ve come across an article, allegedly written by Keel, from Fate Magazine, called “Make Your Own UFO Detector.” Ever hear of it? When it was written or published?

    Comment by Ted Eng — December 23, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

  22. I think it was one of the “Beyond the Known” columns that John wrote for Fate in the ’90s. My boxes of Fate are in storage now, so I can’t check.

    Comment by Doug — December 24, 2013 @ 11:45 am

  23. Hello Doug Skinner,

    I’m working on a book called “Magical Manhattan” and of course will include mention of John Keel. What site in Manhattan would you say is most deeply associated with him? Do you know the address of his apartment off Times Square when he first came to NYC?

    Thanks very much,
    Kevin Dann

    Comment by Kevin Dann — October 20, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

  24. Kevin — I don’t know exactly where John stayed when he first came to NYC. I know he headed immediately for the Village, then (1947) a haven for young writers. Some of the apartments he lived in later were at i33 Christopher St., 330 E. 33rd St., and 334 W. 85th St. Best of luck with the book!

    Comment by Doug — October 21, 2014 @ 12:21 am

  25. doug,
    by any chance was john’s first foray into ufology, that playboy article,
    available? I’d love to read it.

    thanks very much for this site and your dedication.


    Comment by Jimmer — November 24, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

  26. John did keep a draft of the article, although I don’t know if it was the final draft. It’s too long to post here; in fact, it was too long for “Playboy.” It’s just a summary of all the familiar UFO cases up to that time, with little of John’s personality or interpretation. It was before he started doing primary research.

    I had posted some of the correspondence between John and “Playboy,” showing how the article grew to unmanageable size, and the editors’ final rejection of it. A lot of that got wiped when this site was hacked a while ago. I may have to repost it.

    John’s first foray into ufology was actually a radio script he wrote for the American Forces Network in 1952; fortunately, both a script and recording have survived.

    Comment by Doug — November 25, 2014 @ 10:04 pm

  27. yes, doug, please repost whatever you can leading to and
    any excerpt of that now famous, never published article
    that led JAK to the field and eventually his ‘theory.’

    I understand this would be a lot of work, but could you
    find a way or someone to digitize that AFR recording,
    post it to youtube and post that link here?
    that would be a big hit.
    thanks again for your response and keeping this all alive
    and accessible to we new comers to keelian.

    Comment by Jimmer — November 27, 2014 @ 11:10 am

  28. I’ll post some of that article, then, and try to redo some of the hacked posts.

    I am trying to digitize John’s films and recordings, but I have to rely on friends with more tech skills than me. We’ve digitized many of John’s films, to preserve them before they fall apart; we’ve posted on YouTube the song written to promote “Jadoo,” an interview by David Letterman, footage of John performing sleight of hand, footage he took in Egypt in the ’50s, and three films he made with his friend Ed Lord. More to come!

    Comment by Doug — December 1, 2014 @ 11:28 am

  29. thank you, doug, for all you do.
    john was many things, but most of all he was a pioneer.
    his breakthrough findings and opinions shunned the ETH
    and they did what they could to silence him.
    john will continue to be ‘discovered’ by newbies as your site
    and efforts help fuel the debate, as well as his memory.

    Comment by Jimmer — December 16, 2014 @ 8:46 am

  30. Thanks! I hope people continue to remember and to read him.

    Comment by Doug — December 16, 2014 @ 10:48 am

  31. @ Doug

    Thank you so much for this. What you are doing is important to many people and quite a lasting service to your late friend.
    One could only hope to have such a friend as you to keep the lights burning.
    The insight the more personal letters provide is just pure gold.

    Comment by Patrick — December 16, 2014 @ 2:58 pm

  32. immortality is the way people remember.
    in john a. keel’s case, we remember him with fondness, admiration and respect.
    what am awesome thinker.

    happy 2015 to all.

    Comment by Jimmer — December 31, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

  33. Hi Doug,

    Thanks for putting this site together. I first came across John Keel’s work in the 1970s when I read Operation Trojan Horse. I laughed at it and gave up half-way through. Then my father confiscated it because Keel himself tells parents not to let their teenage children get involved in these phenomena. After a few years of further studying ufology and psi, I realised that Keel was one of the most important researchers on the subject, along with Jacques Vallee. I am glad you are doing this work!

    Peter Lloyd

    Comment by Peter B Lloyd — February 24, 2015 @ 6:18 pm

  34. Hello Doug,

    Shoot! After contacting you last fall, I never checked back to see if you replied, and just now serendipitously found my way back to your phenomenal site. I read that horrific screed from one reader, and was thinking just how pleased John Keel would be at how you have so elegantly, artfully, and whimsically curated and cherished his legacy.

    Thanks so much for your reply to my query about JK’s addresses. I must admit that there is something positively “Fortean” – “Keelean”? – about the repeating 33s, a Fortean fascination of my own:

    I also have learned since writing to you that I am a “Sun Brother” of JK – we have the same birthday!

    Thanks again so much for all your good work,

    Comment by Kevin Dann — June 2, 2015 @ 1:15 pm

  35. Fascinating indeed! Those 33s certainly show up in John’s addresses… Since you share a birthday, I hope you celebrate it the Keel way: dinner in an Italian restaurant.

    Comment by Doug — June 3, 2015 @ 8:11 am

  36. Hi Doug, My latest find: THE KEY, BY JAK, PEON, May 1949:

    Comment by Jerry Hamm — August 16, 2015 @ 11:27 am

  37. That’s quite a find! I added it to the bibliography. Who knows what other stories lie hidden in those old fanzines?

    Comment by Doug — August 16, 2015 @ 11:10 pm

  38. Hi Doug. I love your site; have been savoring it for years. Curious: I wonder if you have access to any additional correspondence between Keel and Gray Barker. I’m in the preliminary/research phase of a study of Barker’s life and work and any assistance you might provide is much appreciated.

    Comment by Eric Hoffman — November 5, 2015 @ 12:59 pm

  39. Yes, there’s more correspondence between them! Unfortunately, I’m in the middle of moving now, so everything will be kind of a mess for a couple of months. I’ll get back to you once I’m settled and can find things again…

    Comment by Doug — November 6, 2015 @ 12:04 pm

  40. Hello Doug,

    Impressive site! Only stumbled across it a few weeks ago — my loss.

    I’ve been a fan of Keel since I stumbled across Strange Creatures from Time & Space at age 11. In fact, much of my free time since then has been concentrated on updating/annotating/expanding Strange Creatures just for my own edification and amusement. Capricious Fate has seen to it some odd and rare sources find their ways to me, so why not? (The Compleat Practical Joker in a hole-in-the-wall bookstore, Raymond Ditmar’s Snakes of the World on an outdoor flea market table, Ditmar’s researches on vampire bats in an old Smithsonian anthology, etc.)

    Saw the article on the “Frankenstein Radio Broadcast.” Did you know the short broadcast itself is on Youtube (at least for now)?

    Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Michael Winkle — December 15, 2015 @ 11:11 pm

  41. Thanks, Michael! I didn’t know that broadcast is on YouTube; thanks for the tip.

    Comment by Doug — December 16, 2015 @ 7:04 am

  42. I have a question about an obvious discrepency that appears in the book SEARCHING FOR THE STRING edited by Andrew Colvin. On page 9 of the book, John is quoted as saying that he is an only child and does not have a brother or sister. Yet, on page 14, Andy Colvin thanks John’s sister Cheryl for making his material available to him. What am I missing here?

    Comment by John Gerard — December 30, 2015 @ 7:22 pm

  43. John’s parents’ marriage didn’t last long, and he was raised by his grandmother. Cheryl is his half-sister. He also has a half-brother (who was a pig farmer, which John found amusing). I think they stayed with his mother, while he stayed on the farm with his grandmother. So, he wasn’t an only child, but did grow up without siblings. It’s confusing.

    Comment by Doug — December 31, 2015 @ 10:42 am

  44. Hello! I have read John Keel’s books and I am a fan. Are there other authors who follow the same(or a similar) theory? I have read books from Jacques Vallee so you can skip this one.

    Comment by Paulo Morgado — January 8, 2016 @ 9:21 am

  45. You might try Patrick Harpur. His best known book is Daimonic Reality.

    Comment by Doug — January 8, 2016 @ 11:06 am

  46. Thank you very much Doug. I have read his book: Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld . Any other author?

    Comment by Paulo Morgado — January 8, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

  47. I can’t think of any now who I’d say are similar to John. Readers, any suggestions for Paulo?

    Comment by Doug — January 9, 2016 @ 7:18 am

  48. Thank you Doug.

    Comment by Paulo Morgado — January 9, 2016 @ 8:33 am

  49. Another author? David Paulides’ Missing 411 series.

    These are forensic accountings of utterly strange, confounding and authentically bizarre
    cases of missing people in remote forest locations and populated city locales.

    These books are pure Keelian.

    Have you ever considered publishing the trove of John’s personal communiques?
    I just read ‘The Keel Theory’ letter and ‘The Breakthrough.’
    ‘Incredible’ is the word that comes to mind.

    Comment by Jimmer — January 15, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

  50. I’ll have to look into David Paulides. I have passed on Keel material to Patrick Huyghe, at Anomalist Books (particularly for his edition of “Jadoo”) and Andrew Colvin, for his collections.

    Comment by Doug — January 21, 2016 @ 9:14 pm

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