John A. Keel















John A. Keel was born Alva John Kiehle, March 25, 1930  in Hornell, New York, his first story published in a magicians' magazine at age 12. He took science courses in school and later worked as a freelance contributor to newspapers, scriptwriter for local radio and television outlets.


In 1951, he was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War . He spent his military years serving on the staff of the American Forces Network at Frankfurt, Germany, working mostly for the Armed Forces Network. Some of his programming ideas, a remote broadcast from the Great Pyramid, another from Frankenstein Castle, both earned him a great deal of publicity.


Keel claimed that while in the Army he was trained in psychological warfare as a propaganda writer.

After leaving the military he worked as a foreign radio correspondent in Paris, Berlin, Rome and Egypt.

In 1947, he hitch-hiked to Manhattan or, more specifically, to Greenwich Village. He became associate editor of the quarterly magazine Poets of America (1947-1949), and editor of the weekly newspaper Limelight (1949-1951). At this time, he was also writing for comic books, contributing poetry to various magazines, and turning out scripts for the early TV station WABD. He also wrote scripts for radio shows, including Grand Central Station and First Nighter.


In 1957, he published Jadoo, a book describing his time in Egypt and India investigating the ”Indian Rope trick”and the Yeti.


In 1966 he produced the "Spy And Superhero" spoof novel The Fickle Finger of Fate. Influenced by writers such as Charles Fort, he began contributing articles to Flying Saucer Review and took up investigating UFOs and assorted Forteana as a full-time pursuit. He was a technical adviser to the Library of Congress (1968-69), and special consultant to the office of Scientific Research and Bureau of Radiology (1968-71), before becoming a consultant to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, for whom he produced a prototype for the magazine, You.


Keel analyzed what he called "Windows" and "Waves" of reported UFO events, concluding that a disproportionate number occurred on Wednesdays and Saturdays.


A member of the Screenwriters Guild, Keel reportedly wrote scripts for Get Smart, The Monkees, Mack & Myer for Hire, and Lost In Space.


In 1967, Keel popularized the term "Men In Black" in an article for the magazine Saga entitled "UFO Agents of Terror".


According to Keel, he initially sought to explain UFOs as extraterrestrial visitations, but later abandoned this hypothesis.


His third book, UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse, published in 1970, linked UFOs to supernatural concepts such as monsters, ghosts and demons.


Keel used the term "Ultraterrestrials" to describe UFO occupants he believed to be non-human entities capable of taking on whatever form they want.


His 1975 book, The Mothman Prophecies was Keel's account of his investigation into alleged sightings in Point Pleasant, West Virginia of a huge, winged creature called the "Mothman."


The book combines Keel's account of receiving strange phone calls with reports of mutilated pets and culminates with the December 15, 1967, collapse of The Silver Bridge across the Ohio River.


Prolific and imaginative, Keel was considered a significant influence within the UFO and Fortean genre.

Keel lived for many years in the Upper West Side of New York City.


He died on July 3, 2009 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan in New York City, at the age of 79.




Jadoo (1957)


UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse (1970)


Strange Creatures From Time and Space (1970)


Our Haunted Planet (1971)


The Flying Saucer Subculture (1973)


The Mothman Prophecies (1975)


The Eighth Tower (1975)


Disneyland of the Gods (1988)


The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings (1994)

(revised version of Strange Creatures from Time and Space)


The Best of John Keel (Paperback 2006) (Collection of Keel's Fate Magazine articles)



John Keel Photo Gallery