Let’s talk about how Richard Nixon allegedly showed The Honeymooners’ Jackie Gleason some aliens
It’s a story that sounds too wacky to be true… but could it also be too wild to have been made up?
Image: AP Photo / Harold Valentine
While calling the City of Stars “Hollyweird” is a fairly recent development, there are a number of tales and urban legends about celebrities and their kooky ideas that date back to the very beginning of the industry. Tippi Hendren had a lion named Neil that she treated like a house cat, Natalie Schafer subsisted on just ice cream, and The Honeymooners star Jackie Gleason was invited by Richard Nixon to see proof of extra terrestrials. Okay, that last one is just an urban legend. But Gleason really was super into aliens.
This is a well-known Hollywood rumor, as even MeTV fave William Shatner has tweeted about it.
Gleason said Nixon showed him the Roswell aliens ?. ??♂️ https://t.co/3P5OUeGwfZ— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) August 19, 2017
Where did this story originate, you ask? Why, from his second wife, Beverly Gleason (and also the National Enquirer). In 1983, eight years after the two divorced and two years before he died, she wrote an article that outlined the alleged encounter.
"I’ll never forget the night in 1973 my famous husband came home, slumped white-faced in an armchair and spilled out the incredible story to me," the story read. Apparently arranged for Gleason to be escorted through Homestead Air Force Base in Florida to view four little embalmed aliens, "with small bald heads and disproportionately large ears."
It’s never been made clear whether Beverly herself actually wrote this story, or if the National Enquirer just put her name in the story’s byline. After all, the publication isn’t quite known for its journalistic integrity. As far as our research could tell, though, neither Beverly or Jackie ever confirmed nor denied this story. However, Nixon’s official diary conforms that he certainly did meet Gleason in Florida, in 1973.
Snopes classified the Nixon time capsule story as "unproven," stating "insufficient evidence exists to establish the given claim as true, but the claim cannot be definitively proved false." So, if it can’t be proven that Nixon had a few aliens stored in Florida, it surely cannot be proven whether or not the former president showed said aliens to the Honeymooners star.
In fact, according to Nixon Administration staff member, Frank Gannon, Nixon didn’t seem to believe in aliens at all. When he pressed the former president on the subject, Nixon "raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes," so Gannon changed the subject. Could he have just been saving face? After all, he can't divulge that information to any midlevel staff member — just comedians who happen to be his golf buddy.
What can’t be disputed, though, was Gleason’s affinity for the space age and cornerless furniture. One could even argue the late star is just as famous for his round house, dubbed "The Mothership," than he was for his "To the moon!" catchphrase — though we must admit that the latter is quite on-brand.
His UFO house was even up for sale last summer for a mere $12 million. Gleason also amassed a huge collection of books on the paranormal, parapsychology and UFOs, most of which were donated to the library at the University of Miami after he died.