The Nightshirt Sightings, Portents, Forebodings, Suspicions

JFK, Marilyn, and UFOs

“Webb,” [Bill Clinton] had said, “if I put you over at Justice I want you to find the answers to two questions for me. One, who killed JFK. And two, are there UFOs.” Clinton was dead serious. I had looked into both, but wasn’t satisfied with the answers I was getting. (Webster Hubbell, Friends in High Places)

The 10-year-old part of me that loves UFOs and Bigfoot and conspiracy theories is constantly at war with the “respectable” and adult part of me that tries to appear normal and sensible and that resists seeing patterns in everything. Maybe it’s because my parents were psychologists, but I’m deeply fearful of being labeled a paranoid. But besides UFOs, there’s no bigger and more persistent conspiracy theory than that of “who killed JFK?” And thanks (or no thanks) to one of my favorite UFO scholars, Richard Dolan, I find it at least plausible that the latter whacky paranoid conspiracy is not unrelated to the former whacky paranoid conspiracy.

The idea held in certain not unrespectable corners of ufology is that Kennedy, sworn in on this day 50 years ago, might have been killed because of what he knew or was planning to reveal about extraterrestrials. He was apparently briefed on the subject by the CIA, and rumors hint at more extensive knowledge or involvement. See Dolan’s new post about JFK.

Now, there’s no smoking gun connecting UFOs to JFK’s assassination–just interesting speculation. But oddly enough, there does seem to be a smoking gun linking UFOs to Marilyn Monroe’s “suicide.” Dolan writes:

Then there is the controversial Marilyn Monroe UFO document, which came to light in 1992. This is a single page memo from the CIA dated August 3, 1962, one day before she died, almost certainly because she was murdered. The information on the document came from two monitored telephone conversations: one between the journalist Dorothy Killgallen and her friend Howard Rothberg, and another between Marilyn Monroe and JFK’s brother, the Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

The Killgallen-Rothberg conversation revolved around the fact that Monroe was telling secrets to select Hollywood insiders regarding her liaisons with the President, one of which was “a visit by the President at a secret air base for the purpose of inspecting things from outer space.” The conversation between Monroe and RFK focused on her anger at the Kennedys, the sensitive information she had in her journals, and her willingness to give a “tell all” press conference. The document bears the signature of James Jesus Angleton, head of Counterintelligence at the CIA.

I wish I could ignore all this and just be respectable. But dammit, there’s something stranger here, and especially in Marilyn Monroe’s death, than meets the eye. Wouldn’t it be terrible (and awesome) if the assassination of both Norma Jean and JFK had to do with UFOs? I’m of divided mind about this, because I don’t want to go too far down that path of wishful paranoia, but there is some suggestive stuff out there. (The CIA memo is reproduced in various places online–do a Google search if you’re interested.)

[1/29 Edit: Dolan’s collaborator Bryce Zabel produced a series in 1996 called Dark Skies, about a direct link between the UFO conspiracy and JFK’s assassination. At that point it was pure speculation, but will it be proved fact?]

Read it here.


I am a science writer and armchair Fortean based in Washington, DC. Write to me at eric.wargo [at]

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