It was a warm night in Florida on February 19, 1973. Two friends had spent part of the day playing golf and chatting about their mutual interests, not unusual behavior for friends to engage in. But these weren’t your usual friends. They were President Richard Nixon and legendary actor and entertainer Jackie Gleason. And the mutual interests they were discussing were UFO’s, a longtime Gleason fascination.
Gleason and President Nixon were close, as Gleason had been a staunch supporter of the Nixon campaign. But no small talk at a rubber chicken fundraising dinner could prepare “the Great One” for that night, when President Nixon suddenly showed up at midnight at Gleason’s front door in Key Biscayne. The President had ditched the Secret Service and was alone. And he wasn’t there to simply chat about aliens, but to reveal them.
Nixon and Gleason drove through the night and arrived at Homestead Air Force Base, 35 miles southwest of Miami. After entering the base, Nixon drove to a heavily-guarded building at the far end of the compound. They walked into the facility and what happened next was so shocking that only Gleason’s words can do it justice:
There were a number of labs we passed through first before we entered a section where Nixon pointed out what he said was the wreckage from a flying saucer, enclosed in several large cases. Next, we went into an inner chamber and there were six or eight of what looked like glass-topped Coke freezers. Inside them were the mangled remains of what I took to be children.
The revelation of the US secretly holding the corpses of dead aliens shook Gleason to the core, and he couldn’t eat or sleep for weeks. After being confronted by his wife, Beverly, Gleason told her the truth about that night and swore her to secrecy. But Jackie and Beverly Gleason were already in the process of separating. The final straw in the relationship would be Beverly breaking her vow and revealing the encounter to the magazine Esquire in 1974, as a teaser for a book she was writing about her relationship with the tempestuous, hard-drinking Jackie.
Stung and humiliated by the betrayal, Jackie stayed silent until 1986. Finally ready to talk, he invited Larry Warren, a flying saucer evangelist, author and eye-witness to the Rendlesham Forest UFO Incident, to his New York home. After a few drinks, Gleason unloaded the whole unbelievable tale onto an astonished Warren, who spread the story among his community.
However, the story would end there. Gleason died a year later, having only told his ex-wife and Warren about the once-in-a-lifetime adventure with Nixon. The tale would spread like wildfire with the advent of the internet, confirming what UFO believers already knew: the government knows everything about aliens, but reveal it only to the privileged few.
Of course, because this is the blog of Skeptoid, and not Believe Everything You Read on the Internetoid, the story doesn’t end there. In fact, there really is no story. The Richard Nixon/Jackie Gleason/Dead Alien Children in a Glass Case tale, now an accepted part of internet UFO lore, is based almost entirely on hearsay, coincidence and imagination. And not just the Dead Alien Children in a Glass Case part.
As critical thinkers, we can’t just dismiss a story out of hand because it’s preposterous. But we can dismiss a story if the facts don’t fit together. So let’s start with the established facts: Richard Nixon, Jackie Gleason, Beverly Gleason and Larry Warren are all real people. Beverly and Jackie Gleason really were married, and got divorced in 1974 or 1975. Jackie and Richard Nixon were friends and played golf on a few occasions. Jackie was an enthusiast about paranormal topics, with a huge collection of books on the subject. Florida is a real place, as is Homestead Air Force Base. Esquire is a real magazine.
That’s about it.
A little investigation into Nixon’s daily diary (freely available on the Nixon Library website) reveals that Nixon was in Key Biscayne on February 19, 1973, for a meeting with the AFL-CIO. He spent less than 40 minutes speaking and glad-handing with guests at Gleason’s annual golf tournament at the Inverrary Golf and Country Club, of which, at most ten minutes was available to chat with Gleason about UFO’s. Nothing else in Nixon’s diary indicates that the President did or didn’t slip his Secret Service detail and go on an alien adventure with Ralph Kramden. Assuming it hasn’t been doctored by the Illuminati, of course.
Where the story really starts to fall apart is Beverly Gleason’s interview with Esquire. Because it doesn’t appear to exist. A search of both Esquire’s archives and the internet in general turned up nothing. What did turn up, however, was an article supposedly written by Beverly from the National Enquirer, dated August 16, 1983. Discerning readers will note that Esquire and the Enquirer have different thresholds for veracity, and adjust their expectations accordingly.
The Enquirer article claims to be an excerpt of Beverly Gleason’s “bombshell book” that would “[S]how The Great One – or Jack as she calls him – as he’s never been seen before.” It recounts Jackie’s encounter with Nixon and the dead aliens, which she claims Jackie said were “tiny, about two feet tall, with small bald heads and disproportionately large ears.” She then goes on to describe his constant ranting about the government cover-up of UFO’s, his love of the occult and his insistence that he’d lived past lives, including one “as a swashbuckling duke in the days of King Henry VIII.”
In short, the piece makes Jackie look like a lunatic, befitting a spurned wife writing a tell-all about her famous ex-husband. But the book wouldn’t show “Jack as he’s never been seen before” to anyone, because Beverly never published it. The Gleason/UFO story got picked up by a few other tabloids, but mostly faded into obscurity.
So how did a National Enquirer article from 1983 become an Esquire interview from 1974? Enter UFO researcher and “MUFON State Section Director” Kenny Young, who reached out to Beverly Gleason in 2003 to get more information about the Nixon incident. Young summarized his dialogue with Beverly in two emails for presidentialufo.com where he revealed that Beverly indeed confirmed the story of Jackie claiming that Nixon picked him up alone and took him to see “the dead little men in cases.” Beverly also told Young that she had stopped working on her book because of the backlash from Jackie, as her reveal had wrecked the marriage. On several occasions she directs Young to the Esquire article for more information, and insists she was interviewed by the magazine “sometime in ’74” after the couple had separated.
That their marriage ended in 1974 or ’75 (depending on the source) and the Enquirer article was published in 1983 (and not in Esquire) are not addressed in Young’s story. Whether Beverly Gleason misled Young or simply misremembered something that happened two decades ago is unclear. So despite the inconsistency, this appears to be the source of the “Esquire Magazine interview from 1974” claim.
The Larry Warren element of the story is equally problematic. Warren is a figure of some controversy in the UFO community, as he claims to be a key eyewitness to the Rendlesham Forest Incident, known as “Britain’s biggest UFO cover-up”, but his version of the events differs drastically from other witnesses. Rendlesham isn’t germane to this story, but if you’ve never listened to Brian’s thorough debunking of the incident, it’s well worth your time.
According to an account of the meeting, about six years after Rendlesham, Gleason became aware of Larry Warren’s UFO connection and invited him to his home in New York for a chat. After Warren got there, Gleason got sufficiently lit up to regale Warren with a painstakingly detailed version of the story, revealing tidbits that even Beverly never knew about. Warren was convinced Gleason was telling the truth, and the story spread from there, joining with Beverly’s tale to become the Nixon/Gleason farrago accepted as gospel truth by UFO believers.
The biggest problem with Warren’s story actually has nothing to do with Warren. It’s that as far as I can tell, the only account of the Warren/Gleason conversation doesn’t come from Larry Warren. Instead, it was written by Timothy Green Beckley, yet another UFO-ologist and paranormal investigator, who’s written books about the Secret of Fatima, the “Secret Space Program” and (of course) Niokla Tesla’s free energy experiments. Beckley also has branched out into film making with his unfortunately titled 2000 opus Sandy Hook Lingerie Party Massacre.
Virtually every detail in virtually every internet posting about the conversation between Gleason and Warren comes from a story Beckley wrote called Jackie Gleason & the Little “Men From Mars.” This purported account of the Gleason/Warren meeting was included with other “true” celebrity alien encounters in Beckley’s 1992 book UFOs Among the Stars. But nowhere can I find Larry Warren actually claiming that he spoke with or met Jackie Gleason, and there is no other source confirming any of what Beckley wrote. It appears he simply glommed onto the Enquirer article and ran with it.
So what does all of this leave us with? Exactly what we started with: an outlandish story with little to support it other than hearsay. There was never corroboration from anyone at the Air Force Base or anyone on Nixon’s staff that Nixon was there that night, with or without Jackie Gleason. Both of the “reliable” accounts of the story, the only accounts we even have, are not reliable at all. This lack of evidence doesn’t prove the incident didn’t happen, but it certainly doesn’t help prove it did.
From what I can tell, there are four possibilities for the origin of this strange story:
1. Jackie Gleason made it up in 1973 to explain where he was one night
2. Beverly Gleason made it up in 1983 to tease her tell-all book
3. The National Enquirer made it up in 1983 and published it under Beverly’s name to sell newspapers
4. Richard Nixon took Jackie Gleason to see dead alien bodies at a Florida Air Force Base
I have no idea which one of those is true. But I’m pretty sure I know which one isn’t.