Twenty four years after his death, Jackie Gleason is still a household name, and many of the characters he played are legendary; timeless foundations to modern entertainment. Characters like The Honeymooner’s Ralph Kramden and Sheriff Buford T. Justice of Smokey and the Bandit have been iconic molds for characters that are repeated in movies and TV to this day. It is no wonder that such a famous comedian would have friends at the highest levels of society, even Presidents. But would one of his presidential buddies cherish their friendship so much that he would indulge Gleason’s obsession with the paranormal by showing him the bodies of recovered aliens hidden in a US Air Force base?
It was no secret that Gleason was into the occult and the paranormal, although he didn’t like to speak publicly about it. In particular he had a fascination with UFOs. According to Rendlesham witness, Larry Warren, who Gleason had talked with on several occasions, Gleason had a huge UFO library. The library was donated to the University of Miami after his death.
Gleason was a staunch supporter of the Republican Party and eventually became good friends with Richard Nixon. Gleason and Nixon would golf together, and according to Gleason, Nixon shared his interest in UFOs, although he didn’t like to talk much about it. It was during a trip to Florida – to help support a charity event that Gleason was sponsoring – that Nixon decided it was time to show his friend what he was looking for.
In an interview with Gleason’s second wife, Beverly McKittrick, by Esquire Magazine about a book she was planning to write, she revealed that Gleason had told her that Nixon had shown Gleason alien bodies. The story goes that Gleason arrived home unusually late on the evening of February 19, 1973. Worried, McKittrick questioned his whereabouts. She said in the interview that his face looked “haggard”, and that he said he had been to Homestead Air Force Base and had seen alien bodies. He described them as small, “only about two feet tall, with bald heads and disproportionately large ears.”
Gleason told her that he could not get many answers, but that a spacecraft must have crashed nearby. She says that he was so preoccupied about the event that he continued to talk about it the next morning.
In 2003, in an interview with Kenny Young, McKittrick said that Gleason was not happy with the news of his visit to Homestead being leaked. He never denied the incident, but was so upset with the story getting out that, although they were already separated, he cut off his relationship with McKittrick completely.
Since the release of the story, researchers had been clamoring for more information, but Gleason wasn’t talking. Warren says that on one occasion, at Gleason’s house in Westchester County, New York, Gleason finally opened up to him about the event after a few drinks. Gleason told him that Nixon had arrived at Gleason’s house alone in his private car. Nixon told Gleason that he wanted to show him something. Nixon continued to drive Gleason to Homestead. At the gate, a shocked security guard waved them through.
They drove to a well-guarded building, and walked in. Inside the building were a number of labs, but they eventually arrived at an inner chamber. Here they found several containers that looked like “glass-topped Coke freezers.” Inside was what Gleason described as looking like “mangled children,” but upon closer examination were not human, and actually looked quite old. After telling him the details of the visit, Gleason told Warren that he was very upset that the government would not share this information with the public.
Some find it hard to believe that a sitting president could elude his security to whisk off in the middle of the night. Grant Cameron of PresidentialUFO.com sites a passage from a book written by a secret service man named Martin Venker. “In his book Confessions of an Ex-Secret Service Agent tells that not only can the President disappear, but it has happened. Venker stated that in the exact year of the Homestead incident with Gleason, 1973, Nixon had tried to cut his secret service protection. Venker also stated that it was not uncommon for Nixon to try to elude his secret service detail. The agents working on the Nixon Presidential detail had been warned about it.”
Beyond the testimony of McKittrick and Warren, there don’t appear to be any others Gleason spoke to about the event. Gleason never confirmed or denied the story publicly. As for Homestead, controversial conspiracy theorist, William Cooper, claims in his popular book Behold a Pale Horse that Eisenhower met with Extraterrestrials at the base, but this is another claim that cannot be proven.
If the story is true, then for all of his faults, Nixon knew how to give a friend a whopper of a present. This is the type of experience that UFO researchers dream of. Perhaps one day Gleason’s wish will come true and the government will give us the gift that the public deserves… the truth.