High Strangeness: Anthony Ranfone, Where Are You?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Anthony Ranfone, Where Are You?

I still need to find Anthony Ranfone!

A few months ago I wrote about this fantastic illustration of the Pascagoula, MS, UFO occupants that abducted Charlie Parker and Calvin Hickson back in 1973.

Okay, allegedly abducted... Whatever.

I came across the illustration in the CUFOS files as I was doing research for my book about J. Allen Hynek, and was struck by its beauty and power. I was intrigued by the signature--A. Ranfone, 1973--but, to my frustration, could find nothing about the illustration or the artist in the files I was digging through that day. I came home, wrote about it, and hoped A. Ranfone would appear.

He or she didn't.

Well, on my most recent foray into the CUFOS archives, something quite amazing happened: I came across a letter written by Anthony flipping Ranfone! You can't imagine my excitement upon finding this... I wasn't looking for it, wasn't thinking about it, but suddenly there it was: a full-page, handwritten letter with the name A. Ranfone at the bottom, staring at me from the bottom of a forgotten file. I had found it! No--it had found me! No--we had found each other! No--really, I had found it. Still, exciting!

The letter, dated 5 November 1973, was written by Anthony Ranfone of Alexandria, Virginia, to a Mr. Donald Nixon of NICAP, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, a leading UFO research group back in the day. Apparently someone at NICAP thought that "Aerial Phenomena" was a much classier, more respectable term than UFO, but nothing is more fun to say than "UFO," so I think they kind of blew it there. What would have been wrong with NICUFO?  But I digress. NICAP has been around since October, 1956, and for a great many years it rivalled the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book as the most significant UFO research project in the world. But, for reasons I've explained, the name never caught on; a while back many of NICAP's files were absorbed by CUFOS, and today the organization is little more than a website.

Back to the letter.

"Dear Mr. Nixon," it began, "We spoke briefly in October about a drawing of the Pascagoula being seen on the 11th. Enclosed is the illustration of the fellow. I was able to execute this only after gleaning what info I could from newspaper accounts and a recent T.V. interview. An ABC (TV) artist has done one from a description supplied by one of the men involved. Since I was only able to see it for a minute or so -- my drawing may be slightly inaccurate. If it is not in error, please feel free to use it as you wish.

This is the illustration upon which A. Ranfone based his drawing.
"I suggest that in the event future sightings are reported, I be permitted to send you similar renderings in the same format. In time a consistent catalog will develop. I can do the same with past sightings but again I lack sufficient data for precise illustration. Perhaps you can be of assistance in this regard.

"Sincerely, A. Ranfone"

Ever since reading this letter my mind has been swimming with questions: Did A. Ranfone ever produce more illustrations of UFOs and their occupants? Did Donald Nixon ever respond to the letter? Did the consistent catalog of illustrations ever come to be, and if so, where is it now? And, damn it, where is A. Ranfone?

There must be more to the story. I have to believe that Donald Nixon would have written back to A. Ranfone immediately and said. "Yes, please, do more of these, at once!"

I think it needs to be said: Anthony Ranfone is one amazing illustrator, and if there was any justice in the world he would have been working for ABC TV, and not this other guy. A. Ranfone, where are you??? Come forward this instant, and take your place in the pantheon of great UFO occupant illustrators.

I can only hope that someday soon another letter will jump out at me from the CUFOS files and solve the mystery once and for all.
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