Pegged Jean Nightmares 18

Here’s how Unsolved Mysteries became a childhood-destroying All-Star.

— They’re UNSOLVED mysteries. They might as well have just ended each episode with some silent meditation about which window the murderer would be using to enter your house that night.

— Robert Stack. No matter how corny the story was, he was deadly serious. When that show was on the air, he was the nation’s dad. If he told you Bigfoot and Satan were going to jump you in a parking lot, you believed him.

–Bigfoot and Satan DID show up in episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. In between factually documented robberies and murders, the show would wedge in a supernatural folktale. Because the rest of the show was real, and because Robert Stack was Grim Reaper stoic, these urban legends seemed like legitimate new stories.

Put it together, and you’ve got a show with something to scare everyone. If ghosts and monsters got under your skin, they had plenty of them to show you. More worried about real life? They’ve got a few axe murderers and crazed bank robbers to share with you.

It was an episode of Unsolved Mysteries that first introduced me to the idea that aliens could kidnap you and put you back where they found you, minus a few hours of time and all memories of the event. I was sure I was doomed to a lifetime of being abducted and returned. Whenever a strange light lit up the night outside my rural bedroom windows, I started checking clocks. It had to be true.

ROBERT STACK told me it was true.


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