The Amazing Criswell

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The Amazing Criswell
Criswell.jpg
Still from the intro from Plan 9
Born Jeron Criswell Konig
(1907-08-07)August 7, 1907
Princeton, Indiana, U.S.
Died October 4, 1982(1982-10-04) (aged 75)
Burbank, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Cardiac arrest
Resting place
Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park
Residence The Highland Towers Apartments at 1922 N. Highland Avenue (in the early part of the 1950s)
Other names Jeron Criswell King
Charles Criswell King
Occupation Showman, actor, writer, seer
Years active 1950s - 1970s
Known for Making erroneous predictions, predicting the future on TV, radio, books, records and in newspapers and as a narrator and actor in the films of Ed Wood Jr.
Notable work(s) Criswell Predicts From Now to the Year 2000! (author) Plan 9 From Outer Space (narrator and actor)
Television Criswell Predicts
Spouse(s) Halo Meadows
For the mentalist Kreskin (born 1935), see The Amazing Kreskin.

Jeron Criswell King (August 18, 1907 – October 4, 1982), born Jeron Criswell Konig, and known by his stage-name The Amazing Criswell /ˈkrɪzwɛl/, was an American psychic known for wildly inaccurate predictions. In person, he went by Charles Criswell King, and was sometimes credited as Jeron King Criswell.

Criswell was flamboyant with spit curled hair, a stentorian style of speaking, and a sequined tuxedo. He owned a coffin in which he claimed to sleep. He grew up in a troubled family in Indiana with relatives who owned a funeral home, and said that he became comfortable with sleeping in caskets in the storeroom. The casket appeared in one of Ed Wood's later works, the 1971 pornographic film, Necromania.

Career[edit]

Criswell said he had once worked as a radio announcer and news broadcaster. He began buying time on a local Los Angeles television station in the early 1950s to run infomercials for his "Criswell Family Vitamins". To fill the time, he began his Criswell Predicts part of the show. They made him a minor, off-beat celebrity in Los Angeles and around Hollywood, and his friendship with old show-business types like Mae West and rising fringe celebrities like Korla Pandit made Criswell an entertaining presence at parties. His fame brought him appearances on The Jack Paar Show (1957–1962) which allowed him to publish his predictions in 3 publications of Spaceway Magazine (Feb. '55, April 1955, and June 1955), as well as run a weekly syndicated newspaper article. He later would publish three books of predictions ("From Now to the Year 2000", "Your Next Ten Years" and "Forbidden Predictions", all his books except "Forbidden Predictions" also had softback releases) and he recorded one long playing record ("Your Incredible Future" which also received a CD release) featuring 84 minutes of his predictions in his own voice. Criswell found cinematic infamy in the movies of writer/director Ed Wood. After Criswell's death, his longtime friend Paul Marco released Criswell's song "Someone Walked Over My Grave" on a 7" record which was recorded by Criswell as a memorial song that he wanted released posthumously.

Filmography, recording and television appearances[edit]

Year Medium Title Role Director
filmed 1956, released 1959 Film Plan 9 from Outer Space Himself Ed Wood
filmed 1959, released 1987 Film Night of the Ghouls Himself Ed Wood
1965 Film Orgy of the Dead The Emperor Stephen C. Apostolof
1982 Film It Came from Hollywood Archive footage Malcolm Leo, Andrew Solt
1994 Documentary Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora'[1] Archive footage Ted Newsom
1996 Documentary The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr.[2] Archive footage Brett Thompson
1970 Spoken Word Recording (LP) The Legendary Criswell Predicts Your Incredible Future Himself Horoscope Productions
1970, 1965, 1963 Television The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Himself Frederick De Cordova
2007 Television Cinema Insomnia (Plan 9 from Outer Space & Hardware Wars) Himself Ernie Fosselius & Mr. Lobo

Predictions[edit]

"Criswell Predicts" scene in Plan 9 from Outer Space

Criswell's predictions were nationally syndicated and he appeared on the television show Criswell Predicts on KLAC Channel 13 (now KCOP-13) in Los Angeles as well as being recorded for syndication. His announcer was Bob Shields, who later played the judge on Divorce Court. Criswell wore heavy makeup in public after his live program was broadcast in Los Angeles. Only selected people were allowed in the KCOP studio during his broadcast.

Criswell wrote several books of predictions, including 1968's Criswell Predicts: From Now to the Year 2000. In it, he claimed that Denver would be struck by a ray from space that would cause all metal to adopt the qualities of rubber, leading to horrific accidents at amusement parks.[3] He predicted mass cannibalism[4] and the end of planet Earth, which he set as happening on August 18, 1999.[4]

Criswell was a student of history. He believed history repeated itself, that the United States were the "modern Romans". Each day, he read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looking for clues for his predictions.

Some sources claim Criswell's most famous prediction was on The Jack Paar Program (1962–65) in March 1963, when he predicted John F. Kennedy would not run for reelection in 1964 because something was going to happen to him in November 1963.[5]

Sources say that Criswell never claimed to be a real psychic; however, those who knew him, such as actress and fellow Plan 9 alumna Maila Nurmi ("Vampira"), believed he was. According to writer Charles A. Coulombe, whose family rented an apartment from him, Criswell told Coulombe's father "[I] had the gift, but ... lost it when I started taking money for it."

Private life[edit]

Criswell married a former speakeasy dancer named Halo Meadows, who appeared on You Bet Your Life, and whom Coulombe describes as "quite mad": "Mrs Criswell had a huge standard poodle (named "Buttercup") which she was convinced was the reincarnation of her cousin Thomas.[6] She spent a great deal of time sunbathing ... which, given her size, was not too pleasing a sight."

Mae West used Criswell as her personal psychic, he once predicted her rise to President of the United States, whereupon she, Criswell and George Liberace, the brother of showman Liberace, would take a rocket to the moon.[6] Criswell and West were great friends and she would lavish him with home-cooked food she had delivered to the studio that he shared with Maila Nurmi ("Vampira").[7] It is said that West sold Criswell her old luxury cars for five dollars.[6] He died in 1982.

Legacy[edit]

  • In 1997, including Sean Phillip Mabrey,[10] have played Criswell in Plan 9 from Outer Space: The Musical, written by David G. Smith.
  • In 1999, the film, Devil Girls, featured a portrayal of Criswell by Rob Gorden.[11]
  • In 2005, Criswell and the Plan 9 cast were lampooned in an episode of the television series, Deadly Cinema, and clips of this episode were featured in the documentary, Vampira: The Movie.[12]
  • In 2006, Craig Brown played Criswell in Plan Live From Outer Space, a stage adaptation of Plan 9 From Outer Space which won a Canadian Comedy Award the following year.[13]
  • In 2009, a teaser trailer[14] was released by Darkstone Entertainment for the upcoming John Johnson film Plan 9,[15] a remake of Plan 9 From Outer Space. The voice of popular television horror host Mr. Lobo can be heard narrating the trailer as Criswell. He will also star in the film as Criswell who has a much larger role in this re-imagining of the original Ed Wood story. In addition, for the purpose of promoting the film on the internet, Mr. Lobo has produced 62 episodes of Criswell Predicts![16][17] which is a parody and homage to Criswell’s original television program of the same name sans the exclamation mark.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ed Wood: Look Back in Angora at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ The Haunted World of Edward D. Wood Jr. at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ Dharma Pancakes: Criswell Predicts (Part 1)
  4. ^ a b Dharma Pancakes: Criswell Predicts (Part 5)
  5. ^ C-E-N-T-E-R ART PROJECT interview with Criswell biographer Edwin L. Canfield
  6. ^ a b c d "Who Was Criswell?". Criswell Predicts. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  7. ^ "Watch Haunted World of Ed Wood, Jr. online | Free". Hulu. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  8. ^ "Mae West Sings About Criswell | Music/ Not Music". Musicnotmusic.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  9. ^ Ed Wood (1994) at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ "Plan 9 From Outer Space: The Musical (1/4)". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  11. ^ Devil Girls (1999) at the Internet Movie Database
  12. ^ "Cast of Vampira: The Movie". Vampirathemovie.com. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  13. ^ Plan Live from Outer Space (2006) at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ "Plan 9 Teaser Trailer". YouTube. 2009-09-08. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  15. ^ "PLAN 9". Plan9movie.com. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  16. ^ from Darkstone Entertainment 3 years ago not yet rated (2010-05-10). "Criswell Predicts! #7 - Community of the Universe on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  17. ^ from Darkstone Entertainment 3 years ago not yet rated (2010-05-10). "Criswell Predicts! #6 - Body Modification on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2013-08-14. 

External links[edit]