The Cold War climate in the USA brought many fears in its citizens. The threat of nuclear destruction by Russia dominated the minds of Americans. A fascination with space and science fiction was embraced by people during the 1950s. Hollywood icon Gloria Swanson had an immense interest in space and extraterrestrial activity. She collected artifacts from the UFO craze that possessed the American public during the Cold War era. Her influence, along with UFO propaganda, mirrored the Cold War paranoia and its popular outlet, Science Fiction films. These fictional stories and the curiosity about extraterrestrials represents a social commentary about the fears of the American public. The movies helped people to redirect their focus from the nuclear arms race to space travel and its place in the future of the USA.
In July 1952, pilots and air traffic controllers at both Washington National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base reported strange lights in the sky above the nation’s capital. Airport radar detected seven unidentified flying objects that moved completely unlike any earthly aircraft. Combined with the Cold War paranoia, these sightings caused a media frenzy, as newspapers around the country published stories about flying saucers. The public reaction to these stories brought military leaders to hold a press conference at the Pentagon: Major General John Samford, the Air Force Director of Intelligence, explained that the sightings were a natural phenomenon, but people weren’t buying it.
One evening in 1957, acting great Gloria Swanson and a group of her friends heard that a spaceship had landed in the Hollywood Hills. They trekked through mud in the dark of night to an area off Lakeridge Road. There is no record of what they had been consuming before they set out. In a shallow hole at the end of the road, they found a 12-foot-diameter disk, which they had been told had knocked down a lamppost upon landing. The cockpit seats were upholstered in coral leatherette, and two electrical cords dangled to the wooden flooring. Amazed by their find, they called The Los Angeles Times.
After a careful inspection, the newspaper’s aviation writer Dewey Linze not only found that the spacecraft didn’t have an engine or controls, but after interviewing people in the neighborhood, he learned that it was a movie prop that had been discarded after filming on the site.