When Bigfoot became an alien (around 1973)

Talk about a flashback! In my latest podcast interview with Jason Colavito, we are discussing the alien-Bigfoot connection (in the context of Bigfoot as Nephilim) when Jason mentions the TV series Six Million Dollar Man that featured Bigfoot as a recurring character in four episodes, and once on the Bionic Woman show from 1976 to 1977.

The Secret of Bigfoot (part 1) aired on February 1, 1976. I was 5 years old, so I likely did not watch this but I do have a strong recollection of seeing these shows and being rather frightened by the Bigfoot character – he was huge and had a look very similar to the Patterson-Gimlin film Bigfoot (“Patty”). In fact, other than the lack of breasts, this Sasquatch suit fit pretty well in comparison to Patty. The head and face are always the hardest to make authentic-looking. This TV bigfoot featured creepy eyes and appeared roaring out of the shadows, giving me a serious case of the willies. Already obsessed with monsters, I loved it anyway.

Bigfoot (Andre the Giant) and Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man. The storyline ended with the two becoming friends.
Bigfoot (Andre the Giant) and Lee Majors as the Six Million Dollar Man. The storyline ended with the two becoming friends.

Check out the YouTube clip here.

Yep. Bigfoot in the show was an alien cyborg. Head to the Bionic Wiki to see the episode summaries.

In the podcast episode, Jason remarks that this was certainly the most popular association for Bigfoot as alien, maybe the first proper connection. But an earlier Fortean flap, a series of sightings of both UFOs and Bigfoot-like creatures, was documented by researcher Stan Gordon in Pennsylvania to have occurred from 1973 to 1974. In Stan’s book Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook (2010) we are able to track the reports as they begin with descriptions of lights and UFOs in January of 1973. In early summer, monster creatures reports come in. Some are just of glowing eyes. The UFO reports also continue. By late August 1973, the strangeness evolves, with Bigfoot-like creatures seen in conjunction with UFOs. It’s at this time when people start to assume they may be connected. Creature sighting reports flood in until October. UFO reports continue into 1974. Claimed sightings of both Bigfoot and UFOs come in at a higher than normal rate through the end of 1974. Some of the reports were so strange that they defied normal explanation. That is, the creatures had supernatural elements – glowing green eyes, strange movements, showing no effect from bullets fired at them, and vanishing in front of the witness via a beam of light.

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Local newspapers covered the reports mainly in 1973. The events in western PA were part of a nationwide uptick in UFO reports later called the “wave” or “flap” of 1973. Check out this report on the national news.

It was very much a time of panic over UFOs for many citizens. Note that this does not mean we actually were being invaded by UFOs, it means many people reported UFOs and investigators did not get to the bottom of all the cases due to a lack of available information. In such cases, people often see what they believe or fear is there, turning mundane objects (like planes and helicopters) into mysterious ones and seeing normal events in an ominous framing. Steven Spielberg developed his script for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) at this time, supposedly influenced by the news reports of the Great UFO Wave of 1973.

So far, all these happenings in popular culture at this time point to a convergence of two paranormal ideas – UFOs as alien craft and Bigfoot. As Jason notes, it could very well be that the Bigfoot as Nephilim eventually arose out of the ashes of this Bigfoot-as-alien concept. Bigfoot reports seemed so weird that supernatural creep set it – people required a non-natural explanation to account for their report rather than admit their observations were incorrect.

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