George Adamski: Hamburger Man, Intergalactic Diplomat
The First Alien Contactee
George Adamski (1891–1965) was an enigmatic teller of tall tales who somehow managed to convince his followers that he had been visited by blond, humanoid space aliens from Venus.
Adamski said that the "Space Brothers" took him aboard their ship to assign him the important task of relaying their anti-nuclear message to the world.
Adamski was a trendsetter in ufology in that he was the first of several charismatic gurus who gained popularity by claiming to have met with benevolent alien beings.
Adamski as a Magician
Adamski had a "Magician" style archetypal personality.
In the introduction to Inside of the Space Ships, coauthor and dedicated follower Charlotte Blodget describes Adamski as being handsome, kind, and patient as well as a man of "unquestionable integrity." She goes on to describe his quirky sense of humor and ability to think freely without the restraining, dogmatic concepts that "shackle the academic mind." Bryant and Helen Reeve (a retired couple who often visited people who claimed to have had contact with aliens) said this about the contactee:
"He is truly an extraordinary individual, a man of many contrasts, many moods and many ideas and many experiences—different, so different."
Danish Air Force officer Major Hans Peterson—the man that helped organize Adamski's world tour in the late 1950s—made this remark about Adamski's charm and his popularity among women:
"He swore, he liked to drink, he made love with any woman who approached him and whom he liked, and they were not few. And at the same time we find a man who has a deep veneration of the Creator, of Nature and of his fellow man."
At their best, Magicians are compelling, inspirational, larger-than-life figures who are able to win people over with their captivating ideas. Steve Jobs is one of the most widely known Magician personalities in the public eye.
Many warped, dangerous cult leaders also have Magician personality characteristics. "Bad" Magicians may direct their followers to commit ritual suicide, or invest in get-rich-quick pyramid schemes. Jim Jones and Bernie Madoff are both good examples of evil Magician personalities.
Adamski wasn't exactly a good guy, but he wasn't evil either. He never harmed anyone or encouraged his followers to commit crimes, but toward the end of his career he did engage in some exploitative money-grubbing techniques.
Adamski craved respect. However, his working-class background and past history of owning a cafe constantly got in the way of the magical image that he wanted to portray.
George Adamski grew up in poor circumstances. Born on April 17th, 1891 in Poland, Adamski and his family moved to the U.S. two years after he was born in 1893. Being a first-generation American family is difficult, and the Adamski family struggled to get by and pay the bills. When George Adamski came of age in 1913, he joined the U.S. Calvary to seek out adventure and to participate in the conflict around the U.S.-Mexican border started by the notorious outlaw Pancho Villa. After serving in the military, Adamski claimed to have been a bootlegger during the prohibition years (1920–1933).
In 1917 Adamski married and moved to an area near Yellowstone National Park where he found a job working in a flour mill. In the late 1920s, he moved with his wife to the Laguna Beach area where he set up a farming commune. There, he began teaching a quasi-hippie style of philosophy based on the theosophical teachings of Madame Blavatsky.
At the Laguna Beach commune, Adamski started an odd little cult called the "Royal Order of Tibet." During this time Adamski also wrote a book, called The Wisdom of the Masters of the Far East: Questions and Answers. In it, Adamski plays guru and issues out wisdom and advice based on eastern philosophy.
Interestingly, many of Adamski's writings seem to foreshadow the New Age/hippie movement of the 1960s. Topics discussed in the book include daily affirmations, clairvoyance, how to find "real joy," and other stereotypical self-help concepts. With his early eastern philosophical guru shtick, Adamski was able to attract a small, loyal fan base. He even put together a 12-part mail-order course that promised to reveal the secrets of telepathy.
In 1944, Adamski convinced one of his students to invest in 20 acres of land. Adamski used the land to open a commune in the mountains. On the compound was a restaurant called the Palomar Gardens Cafe. Adamski managed the cafe with his wife, Mary. The location of the cafe was adjacent to Mount Palomar. The Palomar Gardens cafe was a popular tourist destination frequented by travelers on their way to visit Mount Palomar Observatory.
Adamski's Early UFO Sightings and Photographs
During a 1946 meteor shower over Palomar Gardens, Adamski claimed to have seen a large cigar-shaped UFO. Interestingly, the local radio station reported that many people called in to report a strange object hovering in the sky that night. Whatever happened may have been based on something that actually occurred in reality.
Adamski claims that following the first sighting, several military officers came to the cafe to find out what happened. The officers allegedly communicated to Adamski that the ship that his group had seen was from outer space.
Soon, more objects appeared in the sky over Palomar—184 in all, according to witness. Small bright lights that whizzed around above the Palomar commune, according to the reports.
Adamski said that after the sightings, two unnamed government men and two scientists from the nearby Palomar Observatory came to question Adamski about the UFOs. The government men wanted Adamski to help photograph the mysterious objects that had been flying around in the area.
After watching the sky intensely, Adamski came away with two high-quality UFO photographs. Adamski said that he gave copies of the photographs to two scientists for analysis. Because Adamski had compelling pictures and the two researchers he named were respected scientists, the press took interest in the story. However, the government denied involvement. So did the scientists that Adamski said that he had been working with.
In 1950, Adamski's five minutes of fame seemed to be over. He took nearly 500 pictures but was unable to capture any quality photos of mysterious aircraft, even after sleeping outside in a hammock for a year and a half.
To Adamski's credit, his early photo of the cigar-shaped craft is still a matter of controversy in the UFO community. The vintage equipment that Adamski used to take the photographs could not easily be manipulated, so it is unlikely that the photos themselves were forged. However, critics have said that the UFOs in the photographs may have been props.
Palomar Mountain, California
Haunted by Hamburgers
At the time, the public wanted to know why an alien race would choose to contact a simple café manager.
"The observatory had no one to give out information, so many people would ask questions at the cafe in regard to its operation. I often conversed with guests in the cafe dining room, on astronomy and other topics. When the spacecraft arrived, I was in a position to answer many questions and to give lectures to service clubs."
The more Adamski denied his humble past, the more his critics seemed to focus in on it.
Questions about hamburger stands may have propelled Adamski to new levels of showmanship and storytelling about the Space Brothers. When his popularity started to decline, Adamski tried to compensate by making his stories seem even more fantastic and incredible. Over the years, Adamski added new layers and more details to his contact story in order to capture the imagination of new fans.
Adamski Meets Orthon, the Blond Alien From Venus
In 1952 rumors began circling around about flying saucers landing in the desert near Paloma. Adamski and company went out on an expedition to find them.
The people present in Adamski's saucer hunting crew included Adamski's secretary, Lucy McGinnis and his coworker Alice Wells. In a second car, Adamski's friends George Williamson and Al Bailey tagged along together with their wives.
At noon on November 20th, 1952 Adamski claimed to have had his first alien encounter.
According to the report, the group encountered the cigar-shaped craft right after having a picnic lunch. Upon noticing the ship, Adamski forged ahead to investigate while the rest of the group stayed back to observe through binoculars. The main cigar-shaped craft quickly disappeared, but was replaced by a smaller ship.
After Adamski took several pictures of this small, translucent scout ship, a figure emerged from the craft and beckoned Adamski to come closer. Meanwhile, Adamski's friends were watching all of this happen from a distance through their binoculars.
The alien was unable to speak to Adamski except via telepathy and hand signals. Adamski attributed his ability to communicate with the alien to his previous experience teaching telepathic communication techniques. The alien said that he was visiting earth to find out more about the atomic explosions that his race was able to observe from Venus.
Adamski's vision of a friendly, laid-back alien race is strikingly different from the descriptions of the bulbous, bug-eyed alien "greys" that UFO abductees speak of today. Adamski described Space Brother Orthon as looking kind of like a modern-day "surfer dude." Orthon was said to be an attractive, tall, blond, humanoid with tan skin and brown shoes.
Additionally, Adamski said that Orthon left mysterious symbolic imprints in the ground where he walked.
The Orthon alien had a proto-hippie message to convey to his representative on earth, hamburger vendor George Adamski. In particular, Orthon warned of the dangers of nuclear warfare.
Orthon was camera shy and refused to be photographed. He also didn't like anyone taking pictures of his space ship.
Adamski was definitely impressed by the appearance of the alien. In his book, he described Orthon as being so pretty that he could pass for a female.
His hands were long and slender, like the beautiful hands of an artistic woman. In fact, in different clothing he could have easily passed for a beautiful woman.
Toward the end of the encounter, Adamski moved too close to the craft and received some type of electric shock. Orthon reached out to assist, but he somehow injured his own hand in the process and began to bleed. At that point Orthon decided to leave, so he went back into the craft and flew away.
Adamski reported that numerous military aircraft circled the area after the alien ship left.
Verdict: Might Be Real
Orthon Returns the Negatives
Twenty-three days later on December 13, 1952 Adamski heard military jets zooming across the sky. He got out his telescope and photography equipment. Sure enough, Orthon's glass ship had returned, this time to drop off the negatives that Orthon had collected from Adamski during their first encounter.
Orthon's ship hovered in mid-air, and a porthole in the ship opened up. Someone inside the ship tossed the negatives out of the hole. The hand that deposited the negatives then waved to Adamski, and the ship vanished.
The negatives that Adamski produced in December of 1952 defined the concept of what a flying saucer looks like. Even today, toy flying saucers still resemble Adamski's 1952 photos.
General Electric May Have Built Adamski's Venusian UFO
Critics have said that the UFO's landing struts are actually 100 watt lightbulbs and that the General Electric logo is clearly visible in the photograph. The strut on the left does seem to have a marking on the top of it that looks something like a logo.
Adamski Loses Control of Palomar
In 1952, two men living at the Palomar commune challenged Adamski. The first was a former Air Force instructor named Jerrold Baker.
Initally, Baker agreed to help Adamski capture a photo of a UFO. Apparently Adamski was thinking that if two people captured images of the same UFO from different angles, he would gain credibility in the eyes of the scientific community and the public.
In December of 1952, the two men captured images of what seemed to be a strange aircraft. Baker was credited with one image. Adamski took credit for four photographs.
Eventually, Baker grew suspicious of Adamski. Baker's distrust of Adamski led him to form an alliance with another man who lived at the commune, Karl Hunrath. Together, Baker and Hunrath went looking for props that could be used to fake a UFO picture. They found a circular wooden frame behind Adamski's cabin. Adamski said this was not a prop that he used to make UFO pictures and claimed that he used the wooden frame for "TV aerials."
The conflict between Baker and Adamski and a host of other factors related to money and other issues led to the departure of several long-time residents from Palomar.
Further Adventures with the Space Brothers
In 1955, Adamski published an outlandish followup to his book about his first encounters. He called the new book Inside the Space Ships. In the book, he describes visiting with the Space Brothers again three months after the first encounter. In the second encounter, Adamski describes meeting with representatives of the Space Brother alien race in Los Angeles.
According to the story, the aliens whisked Adamski away in a black sedan to the desert, where he boarded an alien craft. Orthon and a few other aliens greeted Adamski. Then, the ship took off and docked with a cigar-shaped mother ship that was hovering in the air. When Adamski entered the mother ship, he was greeted by two tall, beautiful, wavy-haired space women who wore luxurious robes and golden sandals. The women explained that the cigar-shaped craft was something like an intergalactic cruise ship. Apparently, every citizen of the solar system was allowed to travel around and learn about the other planets. Earth was the only place where hostility was ever encountered, so the aliens tended to skip past it when cruising around the solar system.
Adamski was then introduced to a "Master," who then began to give Adamski a lecture concerning philosophy. The wise alien tasked Adamski with spreading his teachings. After the lesson, Adamski was returned to earth.
Adamski the Celebrity
Things appeared to take a turn for the official in 1957 when Adamski presented what seemed to be evidence that the government was beginning to take an interest in his UFO encounters. A letter printed on State Department letterhead and signed "R.E. Straith" said that the government knew about Adamski's close encounters and that a group of prominent officials were prepared to back up Adamski's story.
The FBI letter, Adamski's fantastic books and his UFO pictures caused him to become an international celebrity in the late 1950s. His new fame and fortune allowed Adamski to win back his influence over Palomar. With money that he earned from speaking at lectures and book sales, he purchased new property on Palomar mountain. Then, in 1959 Adamski embarked on a world tour. In England, Adamski debated with a prominent astronomer. He spoke to full-capacity crowds in Sidney, Australia. He also visited Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand, The world tour was a huge success.
When the letter was analyzed, experts determined that the typewriter used to create it belonged to a UFO writer named Gray Barker. Then in 1985, UFO debunker and editor of Saucer News magazine James Moseley finally admitted to being part of a plan to send the fake FBI letter to Adamski as a prank. Ironically, in 1957 the forged FBI letter probably did more to help Adamski than it did to hurt him.
“For many years your editor used to visit Gray Barker in Clarksburg, West Virginia, for a weekend every few months,... On one particular occasion a young friend of Barker’s with a relatively high position in the Government had provided Barker with a packet of genuine official stationery from various Government agencies... Barker and I wrote not one but seven naughty letters that evening- emboldened by the evil of alcohol and fully enjoying the hilarity of this chance to throw long-term Confusion into the UFO field.”
Adamski Visits a Monarch
In 1959, Queen Juliana issued a formal invitation for Adamski to meet with her at her palace. The story of Adamski's meeting with the queen made headlines around the world.
The Queen was flanked by her science advisers and military officers during the meeting. Throughout the conversation, the advisers would continue to try to discredit Adamski. Adamski was unruffled by the remarks, and responded by making even more extraordinary claims. One of Adamski's most outrageous stories was that the government was trying to cover up the fact that there was in fact a burgeoning lunar society on the moon complete with multiple cities, trees and snow-capped mountains.
Adamski's Interplanetary Conference and Secret Meeting with the Pope
In the 1960s, Adamski stepped his game up and began telling even stranger and more fantastic stories. In 1962 he announced that he would be traveling to Saturn to attend a interplanetary conference. Adamski disappointed his fans, however, when he announced that he had traveled to Saturn not in a spaceship but mentally, via astral travel. Adamski had always prided himself on his so-called photographic proof, witness testimony and scientific evidence, and looked down on other gurus who could not substantiate their claims. By the end of his career, however, Adamski was engaging in trance mediumship, hypnotism and past life analysis.
At one particularly low point, Adamski was caught producing classified ads in various newspapers offering to put "qualified persons" in touch with the Space Brothers for a fee. Adamski's New Age experimentation and sketchy behavior alienated a number of his longtime followers, including his faithful secretary Lucy McGinnis. By 1962, Adamski's career as an intergalactic guru was again in decline.
In 1963, Adamski (perhaps in an attempt to impress his longtime friend and follower Lou Zinsstag) tried to turn things around by announcing that he would be meeting with Pope John XXII to deliver an important message from the Space Brothers. Zinsstag and Adamski departed to Rome, and Adamski went with Zinsstag to the Vatican. Zinsstag expected Adamski to approach the Swiss guards and request for an audience with the Pope, but instead he acted as though someone was beckoning to him and disappeared for an hour. When Adamski returned, he had in his hand a coin that he claimed proved that he had met with the Pope.
The last two years of Adamski's life were filled with business disputes. The Adamski franchise was plagued by internal conflict and many of Adamski's followers were losing faith. Still, Adamski continued to speak in front of visitors at Palomar and would travel to speak at various events from time to time. Adamski died from a heart attack while visiting Washington D.C. for a lecture in 1965, and was buried there at Arlington National Cemetery. He was 74 years old.
Fact or Fiction?
Most people completely disregard Adamski's late career. However, some prominent researchers are still intrigued by Adamski's early photos and initial meeting with Orthon. The fact that the first visit by Orthon was witnessed by a group of people has led some experts to believe that Adamski's story about his first encounter may have been based on some real event.
1. The "CIA Mind Games" Theory
Dr. Leon Davidson (a prominent scientist who was involved in the Manhattan Project) has speculated that CIA agents may have been posing as spacemen. Davidson pointed out that Bloom and Maxwell (the two scientists who visited Adamski and encouraged him to take the photos in the first place) had CIA connections. This theory makes sense when you take into consideration the time period. In the late 50s, the political situation between the USSR and the US was tense.If the CIA was involved, their motivation may have been to lead the USSR to believe that powerful, secret airships were being developed and tested in the United States.
2. The "Alien Mind Games" Theory
In his book "Why UFOs?" the less reputable (but imaginative) author and UFO researcher John Keel (famous for investigating "Mothman" and inventing the term "Men in Black") has suggested that maybe the aliens themselves were playing some kind of joke on Adamski. The way that, during Adamski's second contact, a Venusian casually reached out of a porthole in the space ship to throw out the negatives that Adamski provided the aliens during his first encounter with them certainly indicates that the Venusian humanoids had a weird sense of humor. After returning the negatives, the aliens flew off after waving a hand at Adamski, as if to say "See ya." The container that held the negatives was allegedly dented due to the fact that it had landed on a rock. The second visitation part of Adamski's story is interesting because (unlike all of his other tales) this one does not make Adamski seem important or special to the aliens.
3. The "Nazi Mind Games" Theory
Several of the wilder conspiracy theories about the Adamski contact experience suggest that the blond aliens that visited could have been Nazis. Flying Nazis roaming around in America in the late 1950s seems far fetched, but some people even believe that the Nazis had set up a secret base in the arctic. People probably associated Adamski's Venusians with Nazis due to the fact that the footprints that Orthon left behind contain a symbol that looks something like a swastika. Of course, swastikas were around long before WWII.
Which Adamski theory do you believe in?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Alex Munkachy