Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Saucer Pin-up Girls of 1947


There have always been objects in the sky that could not be identified; therefore, UFOs are real. But what’s said and printed about UFOs is often far from reality. From the start, there was a lot of sensationalism and exploitation.

Flying saucers made a splash in late June 1947, but newspapers need photographs to go with the stories, and those were in short supply. An early example of a semi-legitimate saucer picture was produced by the Central Press, which distributed news photos for International Soundphoto, a photowire service. Farmer Sherman Campbell found a rawin target on his farm, but his daughter Jane was photographed holding the “flying disc” for the camera. (The next day, another rawin target was in the news from Roswell, New Mexico.)

Jane Campbell, 17, of Chillicothe, Ohio, exhibits an unidentified mechanism which fell from a balloon and landed on her father's farm. The father, Sherman Campbell, said the vaned object, may have caused some of the reports of “'flying discs.”

The same day, and in the weeks that followed, there were many less legitimate photographs, some of them more in the way of pin-ups. Newspapers staged their own photos, often printing pictures of pretty young women allegedly searching for saucers, or posing with bogus UFOs, or sometimes no saucer at all, just mentioned in the caption. A few novelty pieces featured flying saucer hats or other out-of-this-world fashions.

The Decatur Herald, July 7, 1947

The Dispatch, July 7, 1947

The Indianapolis Star, July 7, 1947

The Miami News, July 7, 1947

The Dayton Journal, July 8, 1947


WHO SAYS THOSE FLYING SAUCERS are just high-powered hallucinations? If you do, check this, son. ...Journal Reporter Mary Ellen Lynch makes a stab for her first saucer. Reaction: "Whatta jar!" 

The Daily Times, July 9, 1947

The News-Herald, July 10, 1947

Syracuse Herald Journal, July 12, 1947

The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 13, 1947

The Madera Tribune, July 16, 1947

Vilnis, July 25, 1947

The Victoria Advocate, June 15, 1950

Vilnis, July 25, 1947

Science fiction pulps had long featured buxom damsels in distress. 

Amazing Stories, Feb. 1942, Dec. 1945

Once saucers were proven to be an enduring product, publishers borrowed the concept, and even some of the same artists.

When Behind The Flying Saucers by Frank Scully was issued in paperback in 1951, it featured a painting on the cover by Earle Bergey.

Startling Stories, March 1951 and Frank Scully's book.

When the first full-length motion picture about an extraterrestrial flying saucer was released in April 1951, the ads and poster for The Thing from Another World prominently featured actress Margaret Sheridan.

Later that year, the second ET saucer film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, also featured a damsel in distress in the promotional art.

 Many subsequent posters followed the example, regardless of the films’ content.

Invaders from Mars, 1953, The 27th Day, 1957

It wasn't just Hollywood. Life magazine published perhaps the second most important article in UFO history. Their issue dated April 7, 1952, featuring the bold declaration, "There Is A Case For Interplanetary Saucers." H. B. Darrach Jr. and Robert Ginna's article, "Have We Visitors from Space?" provided millions of readers with a non-threatening introduction to the hypothesis of an extraterrestrial origin for flying saucers. 

However, the image used for the magazine's cover, was not of UFOs, but a photograph of Marilyn Monroe.

For good or bad, UFOs have been routinely marketed with a sexual tease from 1947 up to today. We’ll close this entry on exploitation with two more examples on the less serious side.

Actress Penny Edwards in a 1950s publicity still from Republic Pictures.

Finally, “Miss Flying Saucer” by legendary pin-up artist Bill Randall.

From the 1959 Date Book Calendar published by the Osborne Kemper Thomas Calendar Company.

. . .

Thanks to UFOPOP: Flying Saucers in Popular Culture for a few of these entries. 

1 comment:

  1. >Chillicothe, Ohio
    In the words of Web Wilder, "I didn't even think Mars needed Women that badly.."


Forgotten Ufologist: Journalist James Phelan

  In the series, The Ufologists That Time Forgot , we focus on obscure figures in flying saucer history. The subject of this article is famo...