Leslie Flint (1911 – 16 April 1994) was a British self-proclaimed medium who is credited as having been one of the last psychics to use direct-voice mediumship. He has been described by spiritualists as the most renowned psychic of the 20th century. Skeptics have pointed out a number of alleged frauds Flint perpetuated during his career.
Flint was born in London in 1911 and reached the peak of his fame from the 1930s to the 1960s. He was famous for claiming to contact the spirits of dead celebrities, and would often record his sessions. He claimed his familiar, Mickey, was the spirit of a child who had been killed in 1910. Flint claimed to have seen his first spirit at the age of seven when his dead uncle appeared to him in his home. He conducted his first séance at the age of 17.
In his early life, he worked as a cinema usher and a cemetery gardener. Flint was a conscientious objector in World War II, serving in the Non-Combatant Corps before being seconded to coal-mining. The first public séance performed by Flint was in 1955, just after he formed an association called the Temple of Light.
Flint was an avid fan of Rudolph Valentino and acquired the only known copy of footage from The Young Rajah. Flint was wealthy and lived in a mansion house at Westbourne Terrace near London Paddington station. The mansion had been formerly occupied by the actor George Arliss.
During pre-production for the 1973 film Don't Look Now, director Nicolas Roeg and actress Julie Christie were invited by Flint to a séance he was holding for some American parapsychologists who were coming to observe him. Roeg and Christie attended and sat in a circle in the pitch dark and joined hands. Flint instructed his guests to "uncross" their legs, which Roeg subsequently incorporated into the film.
Style of mediumship
When taking part in séances with Flint, participants would report hearing the voices of the dead surrounding them in the room. Flint would perform bound and gagged in an attempt to prove that he was not throwing his voice. He claimed that he was able to conjure ectoplasm from which he could then reconstruct vocal cords. However, Flint always insisted on performing in the dark, so séance-goers were unable to see him during the performances. He would sometimes even perform in a cupboard.
Amongst those who Flint claimed to have contacted were:
- Helena Blavatsky
- Frédéric Chopin
- Winston Churchill
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Elizabeth Fry
- Mahatma Gandhi
- Marilyn Monroe
- Harry Price
- George Bernard Shaw
- Bessie Smith
- Ellen Terry
- Rudolph Valentino
- Oscar Wilde
- Sir Oliver Lodge
The recordings of Flint's séances are now stored at the University of Manitoba. The collection contains around 2,000 audiotapes and 300 books.
The photograph depicting the ectoplasm "voice-box" on the shoulder of Flint looked like it was made from cheesecloth and Mary Roach humorously described it as the "aftermath of a cafeteria food fight".
On 7 May 1948 the psychologist Donald J. West attended a séance at Flint's home. West examined the cabinet before the séance and personally attached a tape to Flint's mouth. After the séance he examined the tape covering Flint's mouth and it was no longer in line with the indelible marking that he had made. West asked Flint for further testing but Flint refused.
Gladys Lorrimore who attended a séance denied that the supposed "spirit voice" from Flint's direct-voice mediumship was her husband as the voice did not sound anything like her husband. Another of Flint's spirit voices was supposed to be from Helena Blavatsky, however the voice had no Russian accent.
Flint was accused of using prerecorded tapes to produce voices, as well as live accomplices providing a two-way voice channels. Parapsychologists from the Society for Psychical Research who attended séances with Flint also claimed he was using ventriloquism to produce the voices that they had heard.
Researcher Melvin Harris examined the tapes of Flint's direct-voice mediumship and wrote "I have to conclude that his spirits are awfully mixed up. His Valentino speaks with a stage French accent – shades of Charles Boyer – while his George Bernard Shaw sounds like an irascible English colonel, with no trace of his precise and memorable soft Irish brogue." Harris believed Flint to be a fraud and compared his mediumship to the fraudulent medium William Roy.
In 1970 William Rauscher and Allen Spraggett attended a sitting with Flint in New York and said that Flint's mediumship was a disaster as the spirit voices sounded exactly like Flint.
Flint once gave an interview live for the BBC radio. He was asked by the interviewer to try to get in contact with spirits but failed the test.
- ^ a b c d e f Alexander Walker. (10 May 1994). Obituary: Leslie Flint. The Independent. p. 16.
- ^ a b c Graeme Smith. (22 May 2004). The medium taped some messages; Voices from beyond the grave come to rest in Manitoba. The Globe and Mail. pp. A11.
- ^ a b c d e f Theresa Cheung. (2006). The Element Encyclopedia of the Psychic World. Harper Element. pp. 214–116. ISBN 978-0007211487
- ^ a b Melvin Harris. (2003). Investigating the Unexplained: Psychic Detectives, the Amityville Horror-mongers, Jack the Ripper, and Other Mysteries of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 26. ISBN 978-1591021087
- ^ a b Emily W. Leider (12 May 2004). Dark Lover: The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino. Macmillan. pp. 416–. ISBN 978-0-571-21114-2. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- ^ Anthony Slide. (2002). Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film. The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0813122496
- ^ Sanderson 1996, pp. 76–78.
- ^ a b Uri Gellar. (13 May 1998). Lend an Ear to the Dead. The Times.
- ^ a b Bud Carroll (26 February 2002). The Materialistic Wall. Trafford Publishing. pp. 216–. ISBN 978-1-55369-121-1. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
- ^ Thomas Sutcliffe. (4 October 2000). Arts Private View: Wilde About the Web. The Independent. p. 10.
- ^ a b The Great Wraiths. The Globe and Mail. 25 May 2004. pp. A22.
- ^ a b Maurice Leonard. (2008). People from the Other Side: The Enigmatic Fox Sisters and the History of Victorian Spiritualism: A History of Spiritualism. The History Press. ISBN 978-1845886370
- ^ Mary Roach. (2008). Six Feet Over: Adventures in the Afterlife. Canongate Books. p. 179. ISBN 978-1847670809
- ^ a b Peter H. Aykroyd, Angela Narth and Dan Aykroyd. (2009). A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Séances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters. Rodale Books. pp. 80–81. ISBN 978-1605298757
- ^ M. Lamar Keene. (1997). The Psychic Mafia. Prometheus Books. p 122. ISBN 978-1573921619 "A medium still riding high in England is Leslie Flint, famed as an exponent of direct voice. William Rauscher and Allen Spraggett, who attended a sitting Flint held in 1970 in New York, said that it was the most abysmal flop of any seance they had endured. All the spirit voices sounded exactly like the medium and displayed an incredible ignorance of nearly everything pertaining to the sitters. The "mediumship " was second-rate ventriloquism."
- ^ Grant, John. (2015). Spooky Science: Debunking the Pseudoscience of the Afterlife. Sterling Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-4549-1654-3
- Sanderson, Mark (1996). Don't Look Now. London: British Film Institute. ISBN 0-85170-572-3.
- Steven Connor. (2000). Dumbstruck: A Cultural History of Ventriloquism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0198184331
- Leslie Flint. (1971). Voices in the Dark: My Life as a Medium. Macmillan Company. ISBN 978-0333122013