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IN MEMORIAM PARANORMAL AND UNEXPLAINED DEATHS FOR 2020



DuPlantier, age 92. Gene Duplantier passed away early in 2020 at the age of 92. Born in Quebec, Canada in 1927, Duplantier spent most of his life investigating UFOs and unexplained phenomena. Duplantier sold both used books on the unexplained, and published a number of-same both by himself, and other Canadian authors from his Saucerian Press.One of his best-known titles was The Night Mutilators: the Horrifying Story of Cattle Mutilations and the UFO Connection (1979). This title is still available in an audio version from Amazon. Other titles include Hidden Planets: Scientific Fact, or Flying Saucer fiction? (1980/1985), and Outer Space Humour, (undated), a collection of cartoons on UFOs by Duplantier, and others. Duplantier was also an artist, and illustrated most of his own publications. He also published, and edited the magazine Saucers, Space and Science which was published from 1957 into the 1970s. Another 1970's magazine was Spacedust, which ran for several years in its own right.Cartoonist and book publisher Phil Hirsch, born 1926, died in mid-January at the age of 93. Hirsch was the vice-President of the late, lamented paperback house Pyramid Books from 1955 until 1975. The company was obtained by Harcourt, Brace, and Jovenich in 1974, which ceased using the Pyramid name by the end of the 1970s. Hirsch was best-known himself as a cartoonist in the vein of Charles Addams, authoring many collections of macabre cartoons such as Ghoul Days, (1964), and 101 Dinosaur Jokes, (1980). Of more importance here was Pyramid's publishing of works on the unknown by Ivan T. Sanderson, Susy Smith, Brad Steiger, and various others. Hirsch's only contribution of his own as editor seems to be the 1967 volume, Supernatural which covered various subjects Sherry Lorraine Hansen - Steiger, author and the widow of prolific unexplained mysteries author Brad Steiger, died March 7th, 2020, at age 74. She married Brad Steiger in 1987 after having known him for some years previously, and they remained married until Brad's passing in May of 2018. Sherry co-authored over forty books with Brad during their marriage on everything from angels to UFOs. The pair appeared frequently on such television series as Entertainment Tonight, Hard Copy, Inside Edition, and The Joan Rivers Show among many others. Veteran ufologist Theodore "Ted" R.Phillips died March 10, 2020 at age 78. Born in 1942, Ted was noted for a long career in ufology, especially in cases dealing with trace-sample recovery cases involving UFOs. Philips was associated both with the now-defunct J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (later known simply as CUFOS) in Illinois, then with the world's largest UFO research organization, MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network) for a number of years. Actress Cindy Butler died May 26th at age 64. Butler had a brief film career, including the cryptozoological film about the Fouke Creek, Arkansas creature Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues, (1984), although this was actually the third film about this cryptid. Sherry Lorraine Hansen Steiger, widow of famed paranormal, and occult author Brad Steiger (died 2018), passed away on March 7th at age 74. Sherry married Brad Steiger in 1987, and co-authored over forty books together from then until Brad's passing. These covered everything from animal intelligence, angels, holistic health, UFOs, and more. They appeared frequently together on various television programs of the era such as Inside Edition, and Hard Copy among others. Veteran ufologist Ann Druffel, born in 1926, died at the age of ninety-four in the summer of 2020. Druffel became a ufologist for the famous early ufologist Major Donald E. Keyhoe's private UFO investigation organization NICAP (the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) in 1957, eventually becoming a member of MUFON in 1973, after NICAP's demise. Druffel wrote six UFO books including Firestorm! Dr. James E. McDonald's Fight for UFO Science, and How to Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction. The book on early physicist and ufologists McDonald was filmed as A Man with Wonder. Italian vampire expert Ornella Volta died August 16th, 2020, at age 93, in Paris, France. Volta co-edited the fiction anthology The Vampire (1963), with Valeria Riva, a work which contained some non-fiction items. Volta also authored the non-fiction work, also entitled The Vampire (France, 1972; English translation circa 1974, a work which covers some werewolf cases as well). Volta also appeared as herself in the French documentary Les Vamps fantastiques in 2003, about vampirism. TV producer Kevin Burns died at age 65 on September 27th. Burns produced such television programs as Ancient Aliens, The Curse of Oak Island, In Search of Aliens, In Search of Monsters, The Tesla Files, America's Book of Secrets, and at least one other series still in production, William Shatner's The UnXplained. Some specials of-interest include Angels and Demons Decoded, and The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. Burns also produced many specials and TV series dealing with science fiction, and related genres. Infamous debunker/skeptic James Randi died October 20th at the age of 92. Randi was one of the founding members of the professional skeptics organization CISCOP (Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) in the mid-1970's, and later, his own James Randi Foundation. Born in Canada, Randi eventually became a United States citizen in the later years of his life. Randi was involved in a number of legal disp[utes over the years, most notably perhaps with psychic Uri Geller, against whom he won several court cases. He was also threatened with a lawsuit by psychic Allison DuBoise (about whom the television series Medium was based) over the unauthorized use of her photograph on his website. Randi offered a one million dollar reward for proof of psychic phenomena he could not debunk, although the evidence had to meet all of Randi's own criteria, a fact he was criticized for frequently. A long-time atheist, Randi was involved in writing the "Humanist Manifesto" supporting secular humanism. A veteran stage magician, Randi frequently tried to proclaim all psychic matters as little more than stage-magic trickery. Randi wrote many skeptical works starting with Flim-Flam: Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and Other Delusions (1982), which was followed by eight others, as well as appearing in various documentaries in which he attempted to disprove paranormal claims. Aerospace engineer George W. Earley, Jr., age 93, died October 28th, after a long struggle with cancer. Earley was involved with both the worlds of science fiction, and the paranormal, having been a member of Donald E. Keyhoe defunct (NICAP) for its Connecticut chapter. Earley edited the anthology Encounters with Aliens in 1968, a book which collected both fiction, and some non-fiction on the subject as well. In more recent years, he wrote for such semi-professional publications as The Gate (to the Unknown) of Cleveland, Ohio, for a number of years, as well as countless letters-to-the editor on what he usually termed "unexplained phenomena." Psychologist Lawrence LeShan, age 100, died November 9th. LeShan became a parapsychologist in the 1970's, and wrote several books on the subject, beginning with The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist: Toward a General Theory of the Paranormal, (1974). Others included Alternate Realities: The Search for the Full Human Being, (1976), Einstein's Space and Van Gogh's Sky: Physical Reality and Beyond, (1982), with Henry Margenau, and A New Science of the Paranormal: the Promise of Psychical Research (2009). LeShan also wrote science fiction briefly in the 1940's and 1950's, producing four short stories under this pseudonym such as "Trip One" for Astounding Science Fiction, July, 1949, which have been reprinted various times. Prolific science fiction and science author/editor Ben Bova died November 29th, at the age of 87 from COVID-19 related complications. Bova began writing science articles in the early 1960's with a series for Amazing Stories magazine, and science fiction novels from 1968 onward. Bova became editor of Analog Science Fiction- Science Fact magazine in 1971 upon the death of long-time editor John W. Campbell, Jr. Bova left that position in 1979 to become editorial director of Omni magazine during its original run from 1979, publishing considerable skeptical material in both periodicals. Bova was noted in particular for his promotion of atheism in various publications. Actress Dawn Wells, 83, died December 30th of COVID-19 complications. While best known by far as "Mary Ann Summers" on the 1964-1967 sitcom Gilligan's Island, Wells guest-starred on such television series as The Invaders, the first fictional television series concerning UFOs in the United States. Her most notable project in regards to the unexplained was the 1977 film, Return to Boggy Creek, the first sequel to the 1972 film The Legend of Boggy Creek. These films dealt with the Fouke Creek, Arkansas monster, a creature similar to the far-more famous Sasquatch, or the "Skunk Ape" often reported in Southern United States regions. At least three more films have been produced since the 1980's. - Robert Fortec


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