Robert Spencer Carr and the Pickled Aliens Hoax

Howard wonders in a September 1932 letter to Tevis Clyde Smith what his fellow Weird Tales author Robert Carr has been up to:

Remember Robert Carr, “the prophet of the flamboyant younger generation”? I‘ve often wondered what ever became of him since he dropped out of sight in the literary world. Price writes me that he forsook American literature in order to help build up Soviet Russia. According to Price, he is holding down some sort of job there, apparently a pretty good one.

Robert Spencer Carr was born on March 26, 1909, in Washington, D.C. and was considered a child prodigy. By the age of 14, he had stories published in national magazines, including Weird Tales. Between 1925 and 1928 Carr sold six short stories and four poems to The Unique Magazine, the best known of these is “Spider-Bite.” By age 19 he was a huge literary success with the publication of his first novel, The Rampant Age in 1928, which was made into a movie starring James Murray and Merna Kennedy in 1930.

He moved to Russia in 1932, which was on friendly terms with the West, perhaps believing he had something to contribute to the fledgling Soviet Republic. In 1933 formal diplomatic ties were established with the U.S. and in 1936 Josef Stalin even promoted a new Soviet Constitution, which many considered to be a bogus document created for propaganda purposes. Stalin was no Thomas Jefferson. In 1938 Carr returned to the United States, probably disillusioned with the broken promises of a utopian society.

After his return to the U.S., he only authored two more novels, The Bells of Saint Ivan’s (1944), and The Room Beyond (1948). A collection of his Science Fiction works, Beyond Infinity was published in 1951 and two short stories, “The Coming of the Little People” and “The Invaders” were published in 1952 and 1954, respectively.

Following the Roswell incident of July 1947, Carr became a well-respected proponent of UFOs (well-respected among UFO aficionados, I suppose) and is alleged to have perpetrated several major hoaxes, including the notion that alien bodies were recovered from a UFO crash in Aztec, New Mexico and autopsied by the U.S. government.

The alleged Aztec landing was first mentioned by Hollywood humorist Frank Scully in his column in Variety in 1949, and later in his 1950 bestselling book Behind the Flying Saucers. In the book, Scully claimed that the U.S. government possessed at least three Venusian spaceships from various crash sites and the humanoid corpses of the ships’ occupants. It seems the author had been duped into believing this tall-tale by two fast-talking confidence men who had hoped to sell a petroleum-locating device allegedly based on alien technology. This and other similar stories in the book were later exposed in True Magazine. Interestingly, the town of Roswell is not mentioned in the Scully book. As a sort of homage to Scully, the creator of The X-Files named the Dana Scully character after him.

The incident allegedly involved a disc shaped craft had large metallic rings revolving around a central core, which was supposedly the control bridge of the object, that crashed on March 25, 1948 near Aztec, New Mexico. The exterior of the craft was not damaged and contained no apparent seams, rivets, or any hint of the material being pieced together. The UFO was supposedly 100 feet in diameter and operated on magnetic principles.

A government investigative team gained access to the ship’s interior by the use of a long pole, which they pushed through a porthole in the saucer. A knob was then engaged which opened a previously hidden door. The inside showed that the craft was put together with a framework of grooves and pins.

Inside, the team found 16 small humanoid beings, all dead, their bodies charred from fire. The aliens’ height was reported as 36-42 inches. The spaceship and the alien bodies were allegedly sent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The Aztec story was pretty much forgotten thereafter until it was revived in 1974 by Carr, who discussed this alleged landing in a number of public lectures and interviews. He claimed to have received his original information from having seen an advance copy of Scully’s book manuscript in 1950. However, he told many of the details of the story quite differently than Scully did, even claiming firsthand knowledge of where the pickled aliens were stored. When Carr first made his claims, several researchers interviewed Carr and others making similar claims. Needless to say they were not favorably impressed with the overall evidence for the Aztec UFO crash. You can hear Carr drone on about alien crashes here.

One author who met Carr described him this way in a write up for Magonia 89 magazine:

Robert Spencer Carr was a kindly old gent who looked very much like a Kentucky Colonel. He had the ability to tell his story so convincingly that he appeared on numerous syndicated radio and TV talk shows. He also lectured at quite a number of universities throughout the country and caused something of a stir in the UFO community too.

In 1984 an editor of a UFO magazine and several associates interviewed Carr at his spacious retirement home in Clearwater, Florida. Over the years Carr had quieted down about Aztec, but was claiming that spaceships frequently landed on the water right in front of his oceanfront home and that the occupants exited their ships, coming inside the house to chat with him. Few people knew about this story, as he only told it privately. He made anyone he told of these events promise not to print it until after his death and the promise was kept.

A nurse, who accompanied this group, suspected that Carr was hallucinating because of a specific physical disability. However, the more likely answer came from Carr’s son, who advised the editor by mail shortly after his father’s death on April 28, 1994, that his father had a lifetime habit of spinning yarns in order to get attention and to be more interesting. This indeed seems to have been the case — the aliens existed only in his mind.

Or, perhaps those saucer men who regularly visited Carr were helping him make preparations to escape to Venus at the end of his life. We will never know for certain unless we find the secret file the FBI kept on Carr, no doubt buried in a hidden bunker deep beneath the sands near Aztec, New Mexico.