Frank Scully was a Hollywood gossip columnist, with "Scully's Scrapbook" dishing up tinseltown gab for Variety magazine. Scully was also a respected reviewer of literature and wrote a few books of his own. In 1949, he published two Variety columns on the discovery of flying saucers (Aztec) and a follow-up piece Jan. 11, 1950 with 20 questions he thought the Air Force should answer, accusing the US Government of covering things up.
The saucer story itself was thin, barely fleshed out from Scully's sketchy columns, but he added details about how oilman Silas Newton had heard about the discs from the mysterious magnetic research scientist Scully called "Dr. Gee," and there was extensive discussion of how the saucers were constructed on the "System of Nines," and flew using magnetic propulsion. Newton was interested in using that alien magnetic technology to detect oil, and that would come to play an important role in his future.
|Silas Newton and Frank Scully|
Scully secured a lucrative deal with major hardcover book publisher, Henry Holt and Co., whereas Donald Keyhoe's book was merely a paperback by Fawcett's Gold Medal Books. Behind the Flying Saucers became an international bestseller, a hit in hardcover and in paperback reprints. Here's a collection of items by (and on) Scully that didn't make it into his book.
|Toledo Blade, Sept. 25, 1950|
Variety: Scully’s Scrapbook, May 10, 1950
Frank Scully claimed he was surprised by being asked to make a premature disclosure about his UFO book. It was on May 6, 1950, at a banquet hosted by Hollywood screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewcz was at Ciro’s in Los Angeles:
Then Mank threw me to the Lions... grabbed the mike and said I was writing a book on flying saucers and he was sure the Columbia alumni would rather hear about that more than anything else.
So l had to violate my oath of office and talk for 15 minutes, striving desperately not to tell these diners anything of the sort. Surely Mank must have known that the first rule of a hep literati is, “Don’t tell it, sell it!” In the second place, why should I go to jail for Telling All before I get the book out? And in the third place, I’ve noticed only too often that people who get it through their ears never bother to get it through their eyes. Besides, if Henry Holt & Co. knew I was going around talking about this book instead of writing it; they’d slug me with a flying saucer, magnetically directed to hit me right where it would hurt most; which at this moment, due to millions of units of penicillin injections that read like a Truman budget, Would be right where I’d like it least.
So these are some of the reasons I dummied up and wouldn’t talk about “Behind the Flying Saucers” (July, 1950, $2.75 all bookstores).
|Variety, Nov. 22, 1950|
Variety: Scully's Scrapbook, Nov. 22, 1950
Scully toots his own horn by reprinting an interview he'd given with a local paper.
(Full text below clipping.)
|Scully's Scrapbook, Variety, Nov. 22, 1950|
By Frank Scully
College Inn, Nov. 17.
Among the sea of letters, clippings and exhibits, which have all but swamped Bedside Manor since I became the Saucerian ambassador (without portfolio) to the Pentagon, 98% have been favorable. Some of the best have come from those between the ages of 14 and 30. In fact in a coming issue of Pageant I am printing one from a 14-year-old
amateur astronomer. But the best has just come from a 20-year-old student specializing in music at DePaul University, Chicago.
His name is Richard Wyszynski. I realize that such a name more properly belongs in a Notre Dame backfield but this boy was fast, too. He chased me over half of Chicago and cornered me at the Bismarck hotel just when I was trying to get away from it all by catching a revival of vaude at the RKO Palace. I even offered to settle by taking him to the show and shelve the interview. But he said he could catch the show any time and wouldn’t take long to get his story because he had his questions all typed out.
He was true to his word, and later we caught Belle Baker, whose son I understand is a nut on flying saucers; Smith and Dale, Frank Paris and others— a grand bill and a full house.
Frankly I never expected to hear from Richard the Lion Hearted again but in the current DePaulia his piece is printed, and if Readers Digest can reprint the cream of the crop, why can’t I? Here then is the Scully Award for the Best Reporting of 1950:
Frank Scully’s Theories on Flying Saucers
By Richard Wyszynski
Last year about this time, a man named Frank Scully wrote in his column in Variety that flying saucer had been dismantled and investigated. Since that time, Scully, an elderly gray-haired man who moves along at a spirited clip and talks in a low strong voice, has had his book “Behind The Flying Saucers” (On which he has been working since 1947) published and brought before the public. The book has risen from 13th to 4th place among the nation’s reading, but several areas in the country remain aloof from the book, and that’s why Scully was shuffled into Chicago, a few weeks ago, which also provided the fortunate opportunity for this private interview, coincidentally exactly a year after his first saucer article appeared in Variety.
For those unacquainted with the lore of the airborne ovals, I might explain that Scully, along with Donald Keyhoe, Commander Robert McLaughlin U.S.N. (now serving sea duty) and 5% of the nation’s populace (according to Gallup, May 22, 1950) thoroughly believes that saucers are guided interplanetary space ships.
Scully differs from his contemporaries in favoring Venus as the home planet of the discs and embracing magnetic force as the means of the ships’ propulsion. According to this theory, these ships ride on or across magnetic lines of force of which there are 1,257 to the square centimeter throughout the universe. In his book, Scully explained the instances of the mysterious lecturer at the University of Denver who amazed the students with his information on saucers, and also proclaimed that of all the saucers which landed here, none remain intact, although various parts of these missiles were hurriedly recalled by Washington from official personnel who had ransacked the saucers. The book also contained a detailed explanation of magnetic forces and a history of the antagonistic struggle between the Air Force and saucer-writers.
When the book came out, it caused a lot of “backstage screaming” and one friend of Scully’s said: “Somebody in the Pentagon is going to have a hemorrhage.” When Scully wrote that valuable parts of the grounded saucers had been carelessly taken by personnel as souvenirs, the Air Force made a hasty summons for all disc equipment not in their possession. The Pentagonians, however, still ignored the twenty direct questions Which Scully fired at them in Variety and in his book (and in several newspapers which reprinted the article), although the Rosenwald Museum in this city took the trouble to refute any reports of an exhibit of a Venusian corpse in its display dealing with the growth of the human body.
The Airforce fears 1) panic 2) revelation of military secrets if they let out all their data on saucers, they could reveal only that information which would not endanger national security, but Scully doesn’t accredit them with the necessary intelligence to do this. He also believes that secrecy-for-security-s’il-vous-plait requests from Washington have stifled any available reports from men stationed at Palomar, world’s most powerful telescope.
Scully’s train of thought on our global neighbors runs along these lines: the Venusians, maintaining the quality of curiosity, sent their reconnaissance force to investigate the atomic detonations of the past five years. There have been only two instances of hostility: the scattering of Captain Mantell’s body and F-51 over the Fort Knox countryside after a high and hot pursuit of a flying saucer, and the head-on crash challenge offered to Lt. George Gorman after his 27-minute dogfight with a disc above Fargo, North Dakota. (At the last moment, Gorman decided not to risk his skull on something so weird and relinquished the chase) Scully believes that the Venusians of the grounded saucer died not because they couldn’t maintain level flight over our magnetic fault zones, but because they hadn’t mastered the means of safe disembarkation into the atmosphere of this planet. The difference in gravitation between Venus' and Terra may account for the Venusian’s small, but proportionally accurate, sizes.
Scully also affirmed three statements, to the effect that: 1, The mysterious lights sighted over Sweden for such a long period of time shortly after World War II were probably caused by fractures of magnetic forces of flying saucers. (The Aurora Borealis is an example of resplendent light caused by “fractures” of magnetic disturbances). 2. The United States of America has a defense weapon utilizing magnetic force. 3. Scientists, in their highly developed work with this secretive power of destruction, are actually defending the country more effectively than the Air Force, which should be considerably distressing to Major Alexander P. DeSeversky.
States Disgust for National Officials
Frank Scully is thoroughly disgusted with the foibles of inefficient officials stationed in the nation’s capital throughout past several decades; he stated that if he would’ve been president at Woodrow Wilson’s time, this country would’ve been saved a lot of trouble.
Scully likes to to “work out in the open” and that is just what he is doing in his book. He compares himself to a writer in the 15th century revealing the facts of modern civilization and being subject to the condemnation of the people of the time. His work is not that of a theorist, nor of a scientist, nor even of a witness, of a flying saucer; he is strictly a reporter trying to do his job as he sees fit and finding it to be a pretty rough task.
And in trying to separate the fact from the fantasy, if what Scully reports is all wet, why is the Pentagon so perturbed ... why has Scully’s phone been tapped for the last three years? And if this data turns out to be completely authentic, cannot the American people extend their concept of existence past the barriers of this globe and into the universe? Perhaps it is as Mr. and Mrs. Scully both said to me: “They don’t believe in them because they're scared. We seem to be scared of practically everything these days.
- - -
De Flygande Tefaten and The Journal of a Flying SaucerianIn 1952, Billboard magazine reported that Frank Scully's book was being circulated all over the world, and he was working on a second UFO volume, to be titled, "The Journal of a Flying Saucerian."
|Billboard Aug. 6, 1952|
|Billboard Aug. 20, 1952|
Billboard makes a mention of the debunking of Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers. It was published in True magazine's September, 1952 issue, an article by J.P. Cahn titled, "'The Flying Saucers and the Mysterious Little Men." It exposed the story as a hoax and ultimately put crashed saucer stories out of business until the 1970s. For more on J.P. Cahn's article and the follow up, see debunker Robert Sheaffer's page, The Frank Scully "Crashed Saucer" Hoax (1950).
The influence of Silas Newton's saucer tale and Scully's book is incredibly far-reaching, and we'll return to other facets of the story in future installments here at The Saucers That Time Forgot.