The Monkey from Mars!

The year was 1953.   The Rock and Roll craze was a few years off.  Less than half the U.S.  population had television sets.  But one obsession seemed to grip the entire country:  Flying saucers.  They were the subject of movies, television shows, comic books, songs, magazines and books.  And everyone seemed to want to believe the whole thing was true.

So it’s not surprising that when young Atlanta barbers Edward Watters and Tom Wilson, and their friend Buddy Payne, wanted a bit of attention they honed in on this new phenomena.  And they perpetrated one of the more elaborate hoaxes in UFO history.

It began when the young men acquired a monkey carcass in the summer of 1953.   (How it came into their possession is unknown.)  They thought the unfortunate creature already resembled an alien life form, but felt they could help it along by a few adjustments.  So they chemically removed the creature’s fur, cut off it’s tail, and dosed it with green dye.  Voila!  Monkey from space.

For some pranksters, this would be enough.  But these Georgia boys decided to take it further.  On July 8, they chose a stretch of road on the northern outskirts of Altanta and staged a UFO landing site.  With a blow torch, they cut a circular pattern in the pavement.  And then they flagged down a police car and told their story to officer Sherley Brown.

The rest follows after the jump …

The young men claimed they’d seen a red disc in the road and a group of small creatures scurrying about it.  They’d hit one of the creatures with their car.  The other creatures jumped back in their space ship, and flew off into the night.

Their story had some immediate credibility because in addition to the physical evidence in the form of the burn ring and alien corpse, there had also been other UFO sightings that night.

Within hours the story became international new.  Life magazine even dispatched a camera crew, taking the impressive pictures accompanying this article.  But the Altanta barber’s fame was short-lived.   An Emory University anatomy professor examined the corpse, and identified it as a rhesus monkey.   He reportedly said,  “If it came from Mars, they have monkeys on Mars.”

Eventually the perpetrators admitted that it had been a hoax, and paid a fine of $40 for obstructing traffic.

The “Martian Monkey” survives to this day (recent photo above), and is on exhibit at the museum of the Georgia Bureau of investigation.

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