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.

9 comments:

Linda said...

I knew Anthony Ranfone(Tony) in Boston in the 70's. I think he was from N. Andover, Ma. He went to Art School on Huntington Ave. He was and incredible artist not only as an illustrator but realistic oils and most mediums. I last saw him in 1975 when he told me about just creating the "Energy Ant" for the Government publications. He also asked me if I had heard of the Blue Book Project, but he didn't tell what it was. If you find him tell him Linda and John say hi. Phoenix

Mark OC said...

Thank you, Linda! It's so great to get your message, and to know that Anthony Ranfone exists! He's a wonderful artist, and I would love to know if he ever did any more alien renderings... I'd also love to know why he asked you about Blue Book!

William Armstrong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Armstrong said...

I knew Anthony Ranfone when we worked together at what is now the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington DC. I commissioned him to do a painting of 'Light Heart', the cluster of 10 large helium balloons assembled by Col. Thomas L. Gatch Jr. for a stratospheric trans-Atlantic balloon attempt in 1974. Tony did a fabulous job on this, and the original oil painting remains one of my treasures, since I was Gatch's publicist, and he disappeared on that flight ... some say in the Bermuda Triangle. I don't know where Tony is today

Mark OC said...

Thank you for sharing that story, Mr. Armstrong! I had to do a double-take when I read the passage about the Bermuda Triangle... I confess I had never heard of Col. Gatch before, but I just read up on his "Light Heart" flight and it's an amazing story. Was there serious talk at the time that he had disappeared into the Triangle? If so, I'd love to know more. In any case, it's wonderful to learn a little more about the genius of Anthony Ranfone. I can only imagine what a treasure his painting is!

Juan said...

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=19821229&id=Ut9NAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AosDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6901,5141626

Hi,

I found this about a Anthony Ranfone from Alexandria. He died with his two children at age 36.

Regards.

Juan said...

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1298&dat=19821229&id=Ut9NAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AosDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6901,5141626

Hi,

I found this about a Anthony Ranfone from Alexandria. He died with his two children at age 36.

Regards.

Frances Allain said...

I am Anthony Ranfone's sister, Fran. If you need further and accurate information about Tony, I will be glad to help. Tony did in fact die just before his 36th birthday in 1982. Tony was an artistic genius and well versed in history. I appreciate that people remember him.

Al Knight said...

Fran, I worked with Tony at the Energy department. We both were active with Bobby Mueller in starting a Veterans group that later became the Vietnam Veterans of America. I helped him with his model Civil War battle. I remember the Energy Ant and he also had a book of combat drawings and cartoons. I he may have been from Salem, NH. I had worked at Rockingham Park before going to DC. We had a memorial service for him at DOE. I was up in NH for Christmas and New Years. Al Knight,
Newmarket, NH. Am on FB.