Thursday, April 15, 2021

The 1950 Alien Invasion Hoax


Flying saucers are real and they come from outer space. That was the message repeated frequently in 1950, thanks to Donald Keyhoe in his True magazine article and bestselling paperback book. From then on, space and saucers became inseparable in the public mind.


Dimension X was the science fiction anthology show broadcast on NBC radio from April 1950 to September 1951. The series is most memorable for it featuring dramatizations of stories by top science fiction authors such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and Robert A. Heinlein.

The twelfth episode of Dimension X was broadcast on June 24, 1950, entitled Destination Moon, and it was based on the movie of the same name, specifically, Robert A. Heinlein's final draft of the film's shooting script. In Destination Moon, producer George Pal set out to present a realistic drama about a rocket to the moon. To do this, Pal hired Heinlein as technical advisor and coauthor of the script. 

See the article, "Destination Moon: A 70th Anniversary Appreciationby Paul Glister for a thorough review and analysis of the classic film.

There were no UFOs or aliens in the story; it was a straightforward space movie looking towards the future of space exploration. The trailer for the movie featured the picture shown below to demonstrate the film’s media coverage, which was part of its multifaceted publicity campaign.

One of the most notable features of the film was the color-coded spacesuits worn by the ship’s crew, and they provided an advertising angle for the promotion of the film. From the movies’ press book:

The Invasion

On, July 9, 1950, newspapers carried the story: “Flying Saucer Lands: New York’s Westchester County Gets Big Laugh Out of Spacemen” 

Big Spring Herald, July 9, 1950

The Park City Daily News, July 9, 1950

To the press, spacemen = saucers and Martians, of course. According to the report, the space invasion hoax was merely a publicity stunt for the movie Destination Moon and the science fiction radio show, Dimension X. This was no War of the Worlds, but it did generate some publicity and ticket sales.

George Pal staged another the spacemen invasion in other countries. According to The George Pal Puppetoon site“This still [on the right] is from a publicity stunt in Europe to promote the release of Destination Moon.” 

The distinctive space suits used in Destination Moon were recycled and also widely imitated for many other science fiction films. Spacemen wearing that type of suit were set loose on the pubic again before the close of the 1950s.

Baseball and the Space Invaders of 1959

Eddie Gaedel stood 43 inches tall, and he was hired by baseball team owner Bill Veeck in 1951 for gimmicks and publicity stunts. On May 26, 1959, a helicopter carrying Gaedel and three other little men dressed in spacesuits landed in the outfield of Comiskey Park, marched to the White Sox dugout and presented ray guns to their two shortest players, Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio. The story was carried in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1959

“Spacemen ‘invade’ Chicago White Sox and Comiskey Park on May 26, 1959.” (Sporting News Archives)

These publicity stunts exploited the public’s interest in space and extraterrestrials by introducing men in spacesuits into our everyday milieu. Curiously, in UFO reports it is only the minority of encounters that involve alien entities wearing some kind of helmeted space gear. 

Unfortunately, these reports are often among the most unbelievable.

1 comment:

  1. It's interesting to see something as silly as a gathering of men in space suits with war damaged buildings in the background.


The U.S. Government's Policy on UFO Hoaxes

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