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Spielberg offered to aid in United Nations UFO effort during Close Encounters era

Steven Spielberg is really into UFOs. This is not too hard to imagine given movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET: The Extraterrestrial and his mini-series Taken, among others. In a recent interview with journalist Lee Speigel, I discovered that he also lent a helping hand in a 1970s effort get the United Nations to investigate UFOs.

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Devils Tower National Monument. The location of a UFO rendezvous in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (Credit: Alejandro Rojas)

Lee Speigel

Lee Speigel

I am currently in Hulett, Wyoming, where I can see Devils Tower National Monument, which was popularized by the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Tomorrow, I will be doing a talk about Spielberg and his history of interest in the UFO phenomena at the Devils Tower UFO Rendezvous which commemorate the 40th anniversary of the movie. In my talk I will be playing a clip of Speigel describing a meeting with Spielberg who was interested in his effort to display the best UFO evidence at a general session of the United Nations.

Speigel was a young New Yorker at the time who had just put together a record album documentary on UFOs. He realized there were a lot of credible people talking about UFOs and pitched the project to CBS Inc., who liked the idea and sent him around the country to interview these people. Among those he interviewed were scientists, politicians, law enforcement and an astronaut, Gordon Cooper, who relayed his personal UFO experience.

Dr. Wernher von Braun and Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper during the MR-3 (Freedom 7) mission on May 5, 1961, which put the first American, Alan Shepard, in space. (image credit: NASA)

Dr. Wernher von Braun and Astronaut L. Gordon Cooper during the MR-3 (Freedom 7) mission on May 5, 1961, which put the first American, Alan Shepard, in space. (image credit: NASA)

A couple years after producing his record, Speigel heard about an effort to get the United Nations to officially look into the UFO issue. The effort was initiate by Grenada’s Prime minister, Sir Eric Gairy. He decided that what the effort needed was a presentation with the likes of the credible people he had in his record. So, with the confidence of a young New Yorker, he contacted the ambassadors to Granada and offered his services. The government of Granada liked his idea and the event planning began.

Two of the people Speigel enlisted for his presentation were Dr. J.Allen Hynek and Dr. Jacques Vallee. Hynek was a well-known astronomer who acted as a consultant to the U.S. Air Force’s official public UFO investigations from their inception in 1947 to their end in 1969. He then went on to form his own civilian UFO investigation organization, and is arguably the father of modern civilian UFO research. The later, Vallee was a student of his at Northwestern University, and went on to become an author and UFO researcher as well.

Hyenk and Vallee also played important roles in the conception of the movie Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Hynek actually developed the Close Encounters UFO sighting categorization system, and was a consultant for Spielberg on the movie. Vallee, being French, was the inspiration for one of the lead characters in the movie, Claude Lacombe, played by French director Francois Truffaut.

J. Allen Hynek's can be seen in a scene towards the end of the Close Encounters movie.

J. Allen Hynek can be seen in a scene towards the end of the Close Encounters movie. (Credit: Columbia Pictures)

“It was amazing,” says Speigel. “One day I got a call from Spielberg’s publicist to see if I wanted to go out to Hollywood to meet with Steven, Dr. Hynek and Dr. Vallee.”

Speigel’s first response was, “Why do you want me there?”

He didn’t think anyone knew who he was. He was told that Spielberg had heard of his upcoming U.N. presentation and he wanted to talk to the group and offer his assistance.

Speigel says the three men did meet with Spielberg to talk UFOs. Understandably, he says it was an amazing experience. At the end of the meeting, Spielberg said his office would help with anything they needed, and Speigel says they did provide some graphics and information that was incorporated in the U.N. presentation.

So what happened with the U.N. and UFOs? Well, on November 27, 1978, Speigel, Hynek, Vallee, Gairy, Cooper and other credible witnesses and researchers did put on a presentation that included photos and video.

As a result, the U.N. passed a decision on UFOs, which holds less weight than a resolution, but is official none the less.

Their decision included this verbiage: “The General Assembly invites interested member states to take appropriate steps to coordinate on a national level scientific research and investigation into extraterrestrial life, including unidentified flying objects, and to inform the secretary-general of the observations, research and evaluation of such activities.”

Meeting at the UN on UFOs. Clockwise from left: astronaut Gordon Cooper, astronomer Jacques Vallee, astronomer/astrophysicist Claude Poher, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, Grenada Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy, UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, Morton Gleisner of the Special Political Committee, Lee Speigel, researcher Len Stringfield, and University of Colorado psychologist David Saunders (Credit: Lee Speigel)

Meeting at the UN on UFOs. Clockwise from left: astronaut Gordon Cooper, astronomer Jacques Vallee, astronomer/astrophysicist Claude Poher, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, Grenada Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy, UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, Morton Gleisner of the Special Political Committee, Lee Speigel, researcher Len Stringfield, and University of Colorado psychologist David Saunders (Credit: Lee Speigel)

The U.N. was to follow up on Granada’s UFO request the following year, but by then Granada had undergone a coup that unseated Gairy and the subject was dropped.

You can read more about the U.N. event at Lee Speigel’s website, and on various interviews on the Open Minds UFO Radio Podcast. It is also part of my presentation on Official Government UFO Agencies seen below. You can also view Speigel discussing the U.N. initiative at the International UFO Congress in 2011 here, and his interview with Vallee in 2016 here.

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About Alejandro Rojas

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Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. As a UFO/Paranormal researcher and journalist, Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating phenomena up close and personal. Alejandro has been interviewed by media organizations around the world, including the largest cable and network news agencies with several appearances on Coast to Coast AM.

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