In Search Of…Classic Supernatural Mysteries

I

Welcome to day nine of the A to Z Bloggers Challenge! Today we will be discussing another childhood favorite: In Search Of... Yes, it’s true. I am a geek. I love aliens (of course I love aliens, I live in New Mexico!), Big Foot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster. Gosh, Nessie and I have been friends since elementary school!

Leonard_Nimoy_mid_1960s

Leonard Nimoy in 1960. Nimoy narrated In Search Of…

In Search Of… first aired in 1976 and the last show was broadcast in 1982. It was narrated by Leonard Nimoy, one of the most popular actors to appear in a supernatural television program. Who doesn’t love Dr. Spock? His voice was perfectly objective–no emotion. Just the facts, or at least what appeared to be facts. If the information came from Leonard Nimoy, we questioned nothing. Nimoy developed a fan following from this show in addition to his existing fan following from his Star Trek appearances. He also wrote an episode on Vincent Van Gogh, In Search Of Vincent Van Gogh, Season 4, Episode 16, suggesting that Van Gogh suffered from epilepsy.

Rod_Serling_photo_portrait_1959

Rod Serling was cast as the narrator of In Search Of…, but he died of a Myocardial infarction before filming began. 

The who was inspired by three documentaries produced by Alan Landsburg: In Search of Ancient Astronauts, which was based on the blockbuster book Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken; In Search of Ancient Mysteries; and The Outer Space Connection. The latter were adapted into paperback (interesting–it generally works the other way around!) in 1975. Rod Serling of The Twilight Zone narrated all three shows, so of course I watched them! I think my sister still owns the books. Serling was cast as host of In Search Of…, but he died of a Myocardial infarction in 1975 so Nimoy was cast instead, an equally powerful voice in the realm of the supernatural.

Supernatural Topics

Loch_Ness_Monster

 One of many fraudulent photos of the Loch Ness Monster. Photo by Ad Meskens.

The availability of supernatural topics for this show was endless, and each one was popular enough to draw the viewing audience to the show before it aired by announcing the topic the week before. Some of my favorite topics discussed Big Foot, following sightings from Nepal to Texas; the Loch Ness Monster or Nessie, complete with film footage of the beast floating across the lake.

Intriguing Mysteries

One episode, “In Search of Anastasia,”  Season 2 Episode 13, featured Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikoaevna, daughter of Czar Nicholas II of Russia and the Tsarina Alexandra, who were all brutally assassinated during the revolution by the Bolsheviks on July 18, 1981. The massacre of the Romanov family was so horrific that people desperately wanted to believe one of the children had managed to survive, that one of their captors was humane enough to protect the children. Sadly, DNA testing proved the entire family was murdered. The In Search Of… episode dealt primarily with a woman named Anna Anderson who claimed to be Anastasia, but was later proven to be a fraud.

Grand_Duchess_Anastasia_Nikolaevna

 Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna. Photo taken in 1918. 

There was also an episode discussing the many possible suspects in London’s Jack the Ripper unsolved mystery, including the doctor who immigrated to the American West; the Lincoln Assassination; missing airplane daredevil Amelia Earhart; and the lost residents of the Roanoke Colony, a mystery that still intrigues me to this day.

Mary_Celeste_as_Amazon_in_1861

The Mary Celeste in 1861.

One of our family’s favorite episodes is “The Ghost Ship,” Season 4 Episode 18, which aired in 1980 and discusses the ghostly appearance of the abandoned British-American merchant brigantine discovered on December 4, 1872. The Mary Celeste was discovered unmanned, and her lifeboat and seven crew members were missing. It was also discovered that she still held six months of food and water on board. The ship was believed to be cursed, and in an odd twist of fate, her last owner deliberately destroyed her off the Cape of Haiti to collect insurance money.

Spin-off Books

In Search Of… also inspired the writing of six spin-off books and a “best of” collection by Alan Landsburg: In Search of Lost Civilizations; In Search of Strange Phenomena; In Search of Missing Persons; and In Search of Myths and Monsters.

Introductory Disclaimer

One aspect of this show that I found particularly interesting was the introductory disclaimer. The producers realized they were delving into subjects that were not sufficiently scientifically documented, so each show began with the speech: “This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture.

The producer’s purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.” It was the perfect answer to the perfect problem. Of course there were no answers. How could they call them “mysteries” if the mystery was solved? On the other hand, no one wanted television viewers popping in on the middle of a show and assuming the planet was surrounded by UFOs. One Orson Welle’s The War of the Worlds presentation was enough for Americans.

Total Episodes and Revivals

There was a total of 144 episodes of In Search Of… covering everything from haunted castles to killer bees to Noah’s Ark. That’s a lot of mysteries!

There was also a short-run revival of the show–eight episodes–that aired in 2002 on the Sci-Fi Channel and featured Mitch Pileggi. These episodes covered more than one topic. For instance, episode one dealt with the subject of Hell, Vampires, and Nikola Tesla. The first episode aired on October 4, 2002. The final episode aired on November 22, 2002 and discussed the Shroud of Turin; Faith, and aliens.

  • Source: 
  • In Search Of… Host: Leonard Nimoy. Alan Landsburg Productions. Running Time: 30 min.