UFO Conjecture(s)

Friday, November 02, 2012

Kenneth Arnold's Hair Problem

This endorsement/ad appeared in the February 1958 issue of Fate magazine [Page 129]:


What does it tells us about Kenneth Arnold?

We already know that Ray Palmer was a seeker of monies from the UFO crowd. But Mr. Arnold too?



  • Rich-

    Excellent find! I have never heard of Arnold doing product endorsements.

    On some level (I am not sure which) this is troubling. Not that there is necessarily automatically anything wrong with capitalizing on new-found fame w/ a targeted audience...but did "Turner's" seek out Arnold- or did Arnold make himself "known" or "available" for such endorsements? Did he, for instance, have an agent?


    By Blogger Anthony Bragalia, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • Anthony:

    Arnold became a publicity hound after his iconic sighting, and ran for public office too, as you know.

    The question is whether the need for public adulation was intrinsic to his personality.

    If so, it tars his flying saucer pronouncements.

    Yes, I think he saw something strange over the Cascades.

    But when the excitement took hold, if he was inclined to seek "fame." did he embellish his sighting?

    Kenneth Arnold wasn't the pure soul and honest flying saucer witness that some would make him out to be.

    Either his sighting (or Palmer) warped him -- or he was always a guy looking for something to hang his hat on.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • Tony:

    Here's the original ad in the October 1957 issue of Fate, by Ray Palmer indicating how Ken Arnold got involved in the product and endorsement:


    P.S. We had Pay Palmer (a typo) caught by Frank Stalter; it's been corrected.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • LOVE IT! I wonder who else has ever done adverts like this...

    By Blogger Cullan Hudson, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • It tells us he was a product of his times, and nothing more.

    Context, gentlemen... context. It's the sine qua non of the historian.

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • http://www.pophistorydig.com/?tag=yogi-berra-endorsements

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • You edited out my joke Richie! It was a different time in terms of the line between advertisers and content providers. See link below . . .


    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • What we have, Paul and Frank S is a moment in Arnold's timeline.

    Does that moment tell us anything about what happened in the aftermath of his sighting, when all the flying disks excitement prevailed?

    That is, did Arnold get caught up in the moment, and become enamored of fame, causing him to embellish his original sighting, much as Marcel et al. did with Roswell?

    Also, does his complicity in the ad indicate that he (Arnold) was quick to follow suggestions of Ray Palmer, as he did during the Maury Island affair?

    And was that possible obeisance his undoing as a credible figure in the UFO panoply?

    Context, Paul, is far more extensive than the time-frame in which the ad appeared.

    And Frank, the search for fame and notice was then as it is now: an ego-oriented obsession that skews reason and/or common sense.

    Palmer was a creature needing attention and public adulation (because of his physical flaws).

    Arnold became a man in need of the same -- which caused him to run for public office.

    Is that a significant human flaw?

    Perhaps not, but it does indicate that what these men provided was tainted by their psychological needs.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • To you it indicates a taint; to me it does not, because it was part and parcel of the times. C'est la vie, and vive le difference (or is it "la"?).

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • Paul,

    I agree with you, that it was part and parcel of the time, as Adamski and his ilk example also, along with Berra et al.

    The "taint" is even worse nowadays, having exploded shortly after Warhol's dictum about "15 minutes of fame."

    My point was that those who see Arnold as a golden boy among the UFO panoply of witnesses are off base.

    Arnold was just like the contactee crowd, only with a better outward appearance and demeanor.

    But underneath his facade was a guy who was just like Ray Palmer, only taller and better looking.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, November 02, 2012  

  • Rich,

    Yes, what you say is a good point - just because it's the lingua franca of the times doesn't mean that everyone has to do it (and yes, things are far worse now, if for no reason than the increased opportunity for self-promotion). We all make choices, and those choices do indeed say something about us. The question is the degree, I suppose.


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Saturday, November 03, 2012  

  • For me, Paul, it's a question of Arnold's intrinsic personality.

    Was he a guy looking for attention before he spotted his nine flying disks?

    (And, again, I think he really did see something odd.)

    Was he Svengalied by Palmer and became a guy seeking attention after his sighting?

    The problem, as I see it, is what happens to people after seeing a UFO or something strange -- like a ghost or the Loch Ness monster.

    They can become more attuned to the profound possibilities of our existence, as happened with Thomas Aquinas after his vision or what happened to persons who had what Bucke called a spurt of Cosmic Consciousness: they became enlightened and "spiritual."

    (Your namesake, St. Paul, is a prime example.)

    But with Travis Walton or Betty Hill and maybe Ken Arnold, they became shills for the experience, carnivalizing the strange occurrence they had.

    A traumatic event or even just a dramatic event should cause pause in one's mundane life and alter it, in some edifying way.

    If it causes one to hawk a hair-care product, I become suspicious of the alleged weird happening or sighting they had.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, November 03, 2012  

  • It should be noted that Arnold was a business man (i.e., one who looks for opportunities to make money) and also that his sighting took place after he diverted course to look for a downed plane, hardly a self-serving act. I recommend the Paracast interview with Curt Sutherly (3-18-12) for an account of Arnold as an honest man disillusioned with the ufo spectacle in his later years. I agree with Paul in that famous people endorsing products was normal for that time as now.

    By Blogger dave tuttle, at Saturday, November 17, 2012  

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