How A Monkey And A Blowtorch Created An Alien Scare

“Man is a noisome bacillus whom Our Heavenly Father created because he was disappointed in the monkey.” —Bernard DeVoto, Mark Twain in Eruption

In A Nutshell

In 1953, two men managed to convince their town that it was being invaded by aliens using nothing more than a monkey, green food coloring, and a blowtorch. Their hoax was so convincing that they even managed to get the US Air Force involved. They did all this to settle a bet.

The Whole Bushel

In a dusky Atlanta barroom in 1953, two young barbers made a bet with their butcher friend. The bet was that one of the men could get his name on the front page of the local newspaper. They shook hands and the barbers set to work (and you better believe they made the front page). The men started with a dead rhesus monkey, and then shaved it, removed its tail, and dyed it with green food coloring. When it looked sufficiently spooky, they then created a little circle of fire with a blowtorch and dumped it in the center. The obvious next step was to call the sheriff, telling him that they’d stumbled onto a UFO and a bunch of aliens. They’d run one over with their car but of course there were several more who’d only just shot off in their spaceship!

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The sheriff arrived and was sufficiently freaked out when he saw the dead creature. Within a few hours of the paper’s publication the next morning, the sheriff’s office was bombarded with phone calls from other people who had definitely seen the Martians. To the poor sheriff, it must have seemed like the beginning of a horror movie.

Things got even worse when a local vet examined the body and, having probably never seen a monkey before, proclaimed it “wasn’t of this world.” The media descended on the town and even the Air Force showed an interest, sending in their own men to investigate. It wasn’t long before the monkey was whisked away by government professionals, who examined it and reported that the only way it could be from Mars is if Mars was populated with monkeys. The men received a small fine which they were happy to pay after the chaos they’d caused.

Show Me The Proof

The Great Monkey Hoax, 1953
Morals and the Media, Nick Russell

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