In A Nutshell
In the early 1980s, Gabe Gabor operated a Los Angeles–based company called Heaven’s Union that collected messages from bereaved family and friends for a fee. He then gave the missives to terminally ill people and paid them to deliver the messages, once they died, to residents beyond the Pearly Gates.
The Whole Bushel
In 1978, the mother of Hungarian immigrant Gabe Gabor died. Despondent, Gabor told a terminally ill friend: “When you see my mother tell her how much I love her.” The friend agreed to do just that and Gabor “felt better.” In December 1981, Gabor started Heaven’s Union, a company devoted to delivering telegrams to the dead.
Gabor’s company advertised nationwide for anyone who had something to say to the dead. Responders sent Heaven’s Union a message of up to 50 words and a check for $40. For messages up to 100 words, the fee was $60. They could also select a $125 priority service where not one but three couriers would deliver the same message, increasing its likelihood of delivery. A few days later, Heaven’s Union sent the client a certificate with the entire message printed on it and the code number of the messenger who agreed to deliver the missive. With the certificate was a promise that the client would be informed of the date and time their message was carried to the great beyond.
At the time he was interviewed in April 1982, Gabor had four terminally ill couriers working for him. They were referred to him by psychologists who specialized in end-of-life counseling. “The psychologists think it is very helpful to the patients to see themselves as on a mission rather than as persons in submission,” he said.
Gabor gave the messengers $10 to read the missives. “They don’t have to memorize the message. They just read it and then are in possession of the message. That enables them to relay the meaning of the message,” Gabor said. “It’s something akin to a spirit entering a perfect medium.”
When asked if $10 was sufficient compensation for a person to spend eternal bliss delivering mail, Gabor said that no matter how much he paid them, they couldn’t take a penny with them. He added that there was no limit to how many messages the couriers took with them to the other side.
This is just as well, because by the time of his interview, his four messengers had to split 500 dispatches. By the time he was again interviewed six months later in November 1982, his four couriers had to split 4,000 50- to 100-word communiques. Gabor claimed most of the missives were directed to deceased relatives or friends. “People send messages wishing happy birthday, or saying how much they miss them, or hoping for eternal peace.” He scoffed when asked if any messages were sent to Hell or to pets. “That would make a farce of this,” he said, without a hint of irony.
At least one telegram was not a loving one. It was from a woman who found out, after her husband’s death, that he’d cheated on her. “I’m aware of what you’ve done,” she wrote. “The children miss you but I hope [the couriers] never find you up there to give you this message.”
Many notes were sent to celebrities like John Kennedy, Natalie Wood, John Lennon, or Marilyn Monroe. “I think the reason people send messages to public figures is because they were beyond approach when they were on earth,” Gabor said. “But all the spirits are equal in heaven.” He said one message was sent to John Belushi but, he adds, “I’m not Saint Peter but I would question whether heaven was open to him.”
In his two interviews, Gabor was cagey about his background or his past professions. One reporter did flesh out that Gabor once owned a lighting company and was a real estate investor. He rejected criticism that he was exploiting not only the bereaved but the dying as well. “We give them a sense of mission. How can anybody attack that?”