Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Flying Saucers, Flying Fists and Hypnotic High-Jinks

Hypnosis can be a therapeutic tool, but so can a scalpel, and it's important that the treatment is administered by a professional. Hypnotism has played a controversial role in its use for recovering lost memories in UFO cases, from its first known use in Sweden in 1959. There are some dangers to using hypnosis, due to the fact that it can often produce false memories to be "recovered." Worse yet, it can endanger the emotional and mental health of the subject.

With that warning out of the way, here's a unique flying saucer report from 1952. Like many of the best UFO stories, this one involves the claim of a saucer landing, the sighting of an alien, hypnotism and an apparent cover-up by the law enforcement. However, in this case, these elements come into play in a wholly different way.

The World Famous Jay Zee, "Anything Can Happen"

"Professor Jay Zee, who recently resumed his career as a top notch entertainer after several years of hypnotic therapeutics will appear..." was the opening line of Zee's press release. With modifications for time and location, it appeared in newspapers over many years throughout the USA announcing his show. Zee was a mentalist and hypnotist, and the main feature of his act was having volunteers from the audience perform "hilarious antics".

The Michigan, Cass City Chronicle, Aug. 14, 1953 

The Wisconsin Sheboygan Press, Nov. 29, 1952 

The January 8, 1953 Michigan Traverse City Record-Eagle carried a story advertising Zee's show, "Anything Can Happen."

Hypnotist Coming
"Jay Zee, who recently resumed his career as a top notch entertainer after several years of hypnotic therapeutics will appear at the State theatre on Sunday, Jan. 11th, for three days. Jay Zee's "Anything Can Happen," promises to be a thrill packed show of Intrigue, suspense and a million laughs. He was in retirement from the entertainment field during the World War II period. During that time he worked for the government in psychiatric hospitals and with the intelligence department.

In his theater performance he limits himself exclusively to entertainment, depending upon the audience for volunteer subjects. As a member of an exclusive professional organization of hypnotists, he is under an ethical pledge not to permit situations which would cause embarrassment of his subjects or leave any of them at a future disadvantage."

The Michigan Traverse City Record-Eagle page 10, January 8, 1953

The "Hypnotic High-Jinks" show was mostly comedy, with a few thrills thrown in along the way. This 1950 article goes into more detail about Zee's work during World War II and also discusses his ethical pledge "not to permit situations which would cause embarrassment to subjects."

Kenosha Evening News, March 6, 1950
Professor Jay Zee had an active show business career, and in 1952 was on a months-long tour of the mid-west, which leads us to an incident in Oregon, Illinois.

Embarrassment, Disadvantage and Flying Saucers

Oregon, Illinois, 100 miles west of Chicago. 

Robert Cross

Oregon, Illinois, Sept. 29, 1952:

Robert Cross went to the Sheriff's Office to make a report of a flying saucer over the town. He'd said the craft had landed, and that a small humanoid with an unusual complexion emerged from it. There was a sense of urgency, as Cross indicated that it was part of a flying saucer invasion. The concerned sheriff followed the witness to where to he could find the invaders. Cross told them, "Look at them land on the courthouse roof," but he was the only one who could see them. It was there, the encounter began to turn violent.
Ogle County Sheriff's Office & Jail 

From the Dixon, Illinois Evening Telegraph, Oct 1, 1952

Flying Saucers on Oregon City Hall Bring Turmoil; 
Hypnotist Blamed for All

OREGON -- A 20-year old hospital worker who left the stage of the Oregon theater here while still under the influence of a hypnotist turned this town into a turmoil last night with his fantastic stories of "flying saucers on the city hall."
Robert Cross, Rochelle, who attended the theater to see the magician Jay Zee perform, had the Ogle county sheriff's office and the Oregon police on the verge of "locking up the lunatic" before the situation was finally explained.

No Saucers Today

Cross, who doesn't see saucers today, was told last night by the magician that he would "see saucers until 10 a.m. today." And that's exactly what he did.

After leaving the theater Cross first "saw" saucers on the theater roof. He told this to police, who took him directly to the sheriff's office, where he related his story of "little men and spaceships" to Night Deputy William administered. administered immediately called Sheriff James White.

White and Cross then started towards the theater. On the way, Cross told White to "look at them land on the courthouse roof" and, of course, the sheriff saw nothing.

Back at the sheriff's office white began talking to the youth and finally, when Cross mentioned the magician, Jay Zee was called in.
After an hour and a half of grilling the hypnotist, the sheriff closed the "Case of the Flying Saucers" and announced that "There'll be no more of that in Oregon."

As yet he hasn't decided if the show will go on again tonight or not.

As the story came out, the controversy centered less on the flying saucer report, and more on Cross' allegations of having been beaten by the police. Further details emerged about what Cross had been ordered to do under hypnosis.

Freeport Journal Standard, Oct 2, 1952 

"Cross told the Telegraph yesterday that when he was hypnotized Tuesday night, Jay Zee told him that he should go to the 'police station, newspaper and fire station' and say that he had seen a little man, three feet high with a long nose, purple skin and pink polka dots, step out of a flying saucer."

The full text of the newspaper story below be can be found at Saturday Night Uforia, Hypnotized Youth Claims Sheriff Beat Him After Flying Saucer Reported

Dixon Evening Telegraph, Oct. 4, 1952 
This next story finally got to the root of it, exactly what caused all the trouble. The hypnotist had commanded Cross to leave the theatre to make false reports. "Under questioning it was brought out that Cross was under hypnosis induced by Jack Bernie Zitzen, aka "Jay Zee." Cross had been told to report seeing the visions at five places, including the sheriff's office."

Freeport Journal Standard, Oct, 4, 1952 

The Aftermath: Turmoil in the Ogle County Sheriff's Department

Four days after the incident there was a heated resignation by Ogle County"s Chief Deputy Joseph Powell over a "disagreement in policy." A month after Cross' alleged beating during the "flying saucer" incident, Sheriff James White fired deputy sheriff William Beaman, the officer who'd admitted slapping Cross. It was Beaman's claim that he was removed for "political reasons," perhaps feeling he'd been fired in order for White to avoid criticism or a lawsuit.

Dixon Evening Telegraph. Nov. 10, 1952 

There was a local scandal due to the incidents, and rumors outnumbered the facts. The controversy continued from October into November.

Dixon Evening Telegraph Oct. 13, 1952 

Dixon Evening Telegraph, Nov. 11, 1952 

The "fracas," denials and firings from the sheriff's department following the "flying saucer incident" are more puzzling than the incident itself. It smacks of a cover-up, but not the kind usually associated with UFO stories, just the old-fashioned kind to conceal embarrassment or wrong-doing.

The record is incomplete, and not all published accounts agree, but Robert Cross seems to have been a victim at least twice that night, first from the entertainer and later from mistreatment by the sheriff's department. No one was punished by the law, but two deputies, Powell and Beaman lost their jobs. James M. White remained as sheriff, but only until 1954, when he was replaced by Charles Allen. It seems that no charges were filed against the visiting world famous hypnotist.

Who was Jay Zee?

The Saucers That Time Forgot's Claude Falkstorm dug up a lot more info on hypnotist Jay Zee, including the fact that the flying saucer gag was one of his regular acts in his show.

Cedar Rapids Gazette August 27, 1952.

Business was said to be good, according to the Oct 27, 1954 Fairborn Daily Herald. "Jay Zee is in such demand in theatrical circles that he has been forced to give up all of his work that he has been doing in the field of psychology." His lovely assistant Vicki Vassar was enjoying success as well. Her description went from "west coast beauty contest winner" to "starlet."

This 1955 clipping provides further details about Zee's claims of hypnotic prowess and of his work with the US Intelligence Department. We could locate no records, military or otherwise, for Jack Bernie Zitzen.
The Ohio Wilmington News-Journal page14, October 14, 1955

Could it be that Jay Zee was involved in some kind of PSYOP or early MKULTRA "Mirage Men" type program? We consulted STTF asset, Jeremiah Dugger, knowledgeable both in espionage history and stage magic, but he drew a blank. However, his searches turned up a few items on a hypnotist with a similar name, a "Jay B. Zee."

Who was Dr. Jay B. Zee, Ph. D.?

Zee's mole is difficult to see in the photo, but the artist clearly depicted it in his caricature.

"It sounds like a show name, but it's real; it's the name I was born with." So said the man calling himself Dr. Jay B. Zee to the Northern Iowan in their Sept. 23, 1977 issue. The story provides some biographical details and Zee's thoughts on the ethics of hypnotism. This new information provided further leads.

In reverse chronological order:

The Nebraska Lincoln Star from Dec. 13, 1974 reported:

"Dr. Zee. who received his Ph. D. in psychology from Duke University, stresses that hypnotism can be emotional(ly) harmful when practiced by someone without the proper training."

Later in the article it indicated that he was still interested in alien encounters.

"In the near future, he will include in his act a routine in which the people believe they are astronauts who have landed on the moon and can speak moon language The moon language is actually a recording of Dr Zee's voice slowed down and played backward There will also be a cave on the moon where the people will confront various monsters, but that act will have to wait until the stage can be readied for it."

Good Housekeeping magazine, Aug. 1967 reported:

The Free Press exposed a second quack marriage counselor by the name of Jay B. Zee. Zee, who had a bogus PhD purchased from a diploma mill in Italy for $58, hypnotized couples who consulted him about their strained marriages. He also injected some of them with "truth" serums. One of his women clients became so emotionally disturbed that her husband feared for the safety of their children and she had to undergo psychiatric care."

The Michigan Detroit Free Press, Aug. 12, 1965 

That led us to the Michigan Detroit Free Press from Aug. 12, 1965, with the story, "Nightclub Hypnotist Poses as Expert in Emotional Ills" In addition to the items repeated in the Good Housekeeping article, it reports:

"According to Ernest Browne, investigator with the Detroit City Department of Health, several complaints have been filed against Zee. They include the charge that he worked with an M.D., now deceased, trying to cure ailments like goiter, spinal meningitis and multiple sclerosis through hypnotism."

There was also a discussion of his professional qualifications:

"According to another Phoenix University alumnus, a doctor of philosophy degree like the one Zee bought in 1957, costs $58. For another $10, the diploma came printed in Latin."

"He told a reporter for another Detroit paper that he had his doctoral degree in psychology from Duke University. The registrar of Duke University has no record of either Jay B. Zee or Jack B. Zitzer having been a student there. Zee twice applied to the State for certification as a psychologist, and was denied both times. He nevertheless, advertised himself as a 'psychologist' in direct violation of Act 257 of Public Acts of 1959 which reserves the title to persons who have met certain specific educational (qualifications.)

Zee says he got his master's degree in 1955 from a college in Indianapolis. His alma mater wouldn't permit such modesty. 'We gave him a DOCTOR'S degree in psychology,' said an officer of the College of Divine Metaphysics. 'He took two courses for the degree, one in practical metaphysics and another in metaphysical healing.' According to a brochure from the college, students begin by taking a 20-week course in how to heal cancer spiritually. Cost $100. Then they are permitted to move on to higher work."

The Newport Harbor Ensign, Dec. 22, 1966 

Searching for the new name Jack B. Zitzer produced no immediate matches, and neither did combinations with Jack Bernie Zitzen. It's not clear exactly when Zee changed from stage hypnotism to a medical career, but in 1961, an issue of the American Paint Journal, describes how Zee was billing himself:

"Dr. Jay B. Zee, Ph. D., Clinical Psychologist And Hypnotist."

Lastly, Claude found an even earlier press story on a Jay Zee, show, one from just a few months before the dawning of the flying saucer era, from The National Jewish Post, Jan. 31, 1947:

Checking this claim of "Professor Jay Zee"being the "world's youngest registered hypnotist," we found that he was born in 1917. This would have made him implausibly young to have been employeed as a medical health care professional during World War II, when Zee was supposedly working "for the government in psychiatric hospitals and with the intelligence department" as a psychologist.

Given these further revelations, it seems unlikely that his 1952 hypnosis of Robert Cross was part of a US UFO disinformation scheme. Jay Zee seems to have been nothing more than a charismatic con man, one of the many swindlers that have dabbled with flying saucers.

Postscript and Update

The News-Palladium from Benton Harbor, Michigan from April 29, 1959 reported:
"Jack B. Zitser, 41, applied to change his name to Jay B. Zee. Probate Judge Iran Kaufman declared: 'I'll grant your request. But how will I know you didn't influence me into doing so?'"

2021 research on another STTF story revealed that Jay Zee hosted a Detroit radio show on WGPR in the early 1960s. That show led to another flying saucer-related episode in his career. On April 5, 1962, Zee's guest was George King of the Aetherius Society, a flying saucer-based religious organization.

According to the site,, "Because of the tremendous interest in the program, Dr. Jay Zee did two more 2 hour interviews on April 6th and 7th ... a total of 6 hours on this radio station alone." So once again Jay Zee served saucers as entertainment for his audience.

Jay B. Zee PH.D
1917 -1990.
Star of David Memorial Gardens, North Lauderdale, Florida. 

As with so many of the most interesting UFO cases featured here at The Saucers That Time Forgot, Project Blue Book has no file on this incident.

Special thanks to Jeremiah Dugger for his research help on this story, and to the regular STTF staff, Claude Falkstrom and Curt Collins.


  1. Great article. I'm assuming it reflects all the info you could find on Jay Zee. I was wondering if he was ever nailed with a lawsuit. I noticed Cross didn't file one against Jay Zee. Maybe Cross signed a waiver before he was hypnotized. Good to see that Jay Zee was ethical and never exposed one of his subjects to embarrassment. /S

  2. No, Ray, not everything we could find, but all the major points. There is a bit more about the charges filed against him in 1965 in the second article by the Detroit Free Press on Aug. 13. You must be a member to read the paper itself, but the article text is displayed:

    There are gaps in the history, but it's clear that Zee continued to represent himself as a psychologist after the charges, at least in his stage performances.

  3. Poor man was born too soon. If he'd been born in the early 1940s he could have had a high profile career as an alien abduction researcher. Timing is everything.

  4. Trying to find out if he ever had a show in Hannibal, Missoouri. I believe it would have been at the Tom Sawyer theater in the early 50s.


Frank Edwards: Making UFOs Newsworthy

Dr. J. Allen Hynek on UFO literature (in  The Edge of Reality , 1975): “If I were to recommend anything in the popular category, I would cho...