I’m very sad to announce the death of my father, Thunderbirds creator, Gerry Anderson. He died peacefully in his sleep at midday today (26th December 2012), having suffered with mixed dementia for the past few years. He was 83.
Gerry Anderson was a major influence on generations of youngsters growing-up in Britain during the late 1950s to mid-1970s. His programs shaped play activities, games, toys and inspired imaginations. Anderson was as influential as Walt Disney, if not more so to young Brits.
Anderson was born Gerald Alexander Abrahams in Bloomsbury, London on April 14th, 1929. Anderson’s family were refugees from Eastern Europe, and his mother changed the family name by deed poll from Abrahms to Anderson in 1939.
His older brother Lionel joined the Royal Air Force at the start of the Second World War. He was transfered to the United States for training and wrote back of his training at Thunderbird Field - a name that was to prove highly significant to the Lionel’s younger brother.
Anderson began his career at the young age of 14 as a film trainee for the Ministry of Information, working for the British Colonial Film Unit as photographer and editor. After National Service, he returned to work at Gainsborough Pictures in 1947, slowly beginning his career as writer and director.
In the mid-1950s, Anderson set up a series of companies with his cameraman Arthur Provis, leading to the eventual formation AP Films, which produced the successful children’s puppet series The Adventures of Twizzle - about a boy who could stretch his limbs to any size. Anderson met and worked with puppeteer Christine Glanville, special FX technician Derek Meddings, composer Barry Gray and Sylvia Tham, a secretary who became his wife. Together this talented group would make Fireball XL5, Stingray, and Thunderbirds, amongst many others.
After the success of Twizzle, Anderson produced Torchy the Battery Boy, which though successful left Anderson frustrated by the problems of working with puppets. This changed in 1960, when Anderson devised Supercar with Reg Hill, which used an electronic system that made the puppets or marionettes respond in a more realistic fashion. This process was called Supermarionation and became one of the defining characteristics of Anderson’s best work.
R.I.P. Gerry Anderson 1929-2012
Read more on Gerry Anderson, plus remainder of ‘Mr Thunderbird’, after the jump…
While British MP Tom Watson was discussing recent developments in “Hackergate” on Channel 4 News today, a strange, unidentified object sped through the back of frame, over the Houses of Parliament. Though best known for their hard hitting, intelligent journalism rather than any extraterrestrial frivolity, Channel 4 News still wondered if they had accidentally captured a UFO on tape? Or, perhaps the Murdochs leaving the country? What do you think?
Curiouser, and curiouser… The Daily Mail reports on a memo that appears “to prove that aliens did land in New Mexico.”
A bizarre memo that appears to prove that aliens did land in New Mexico prior to 1950 has been published by the FBI. The bureau has made thousands of files available in a new online resource called The Vault.
Among them is a memo to the director from Guy Hottel, the special agent in charge of the Washington field office in 1950.
The memo has been published on the FBI website. In the memo, whose subject line is ‘Flying Saucers’, Agent Hottel reveals that an Air Force investigator had stated that ‘three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico’.
The investigator gave the information to a special agent, he said. The FBI has censored both the agent and the investigator’s identity.
Agent Hottel went on to write: ‘They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter.
‘Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall,’ he stated.
The bodies were ‘dressed in a metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots.’
He said that the informant, whose identity was censored in the memo, claimed the saucers had been found in New Mexico ‘due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers’.
He then stated that the special agent did not attempt to investigate further.
The release of the secret memo is likely to fuel conspiracy theorists’ claims of a government cover-up.
The town of Roswell in New Mexico became infamous after reports that a flying saucer had crashed in the desert near a military base there on or around July 2, 1947.
The bodies of aliens were said to have been recovered and autopsied by the U.S. military, but American authorities allegedly covered the incident up
Military authorities issued a press release, which began: ‘The many rumours regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence officer of the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc.’
The headlines screamed: ‘Flying Disc captured by Air Force.’ Yet, just 24 hours later, the military changed their story and claimed the object they’d first thought was a ‘flying disc’ was a weather balloon that had crashed on a nearby ranch.
Amazingly, the media and the public accepted the explanation without question. Roswell disappeared from the news until the late Seventies, when some of the military involved began to speak out.
Another memo published in The Vault from 1947 claimed that an object ‘purporting to be a flying disc’ had been recovered near Roswell.
The disc was ‘hexagonal in shape’ and ‘suspended from a balloon by a cable’, according to the memo, marked as ‘Urgent’, to the FBI director.
The memo noted that the disc resembled a weather balloon - but claimed that a telephone conversation between the Air Force and the field office ‘had not [word censored] borne out this belief’.
The disc and balloon were being transported to Wright Field for further inspection, the memo noted.
It added that the information was being flagged up because of ‘national interest’ in the episode, and noting that both NBC and the AP were set to break the story that day.
Of course, such loose-leaf documents are easy to forge, but it should be possible to confirm the existence of “Agent Hottel”. If it is a forgery, I doubt it will effect the interest in Roswell or, stories of alien landings. Indeed, the Daily Mail ran another story on Roswell in 2007, in which an officer’s deathbed confession confirmed extraterrestrials had landed back in 1947. This report can be read here.