Betty & Barney Hill Case 50th Anniversary

The 1961 Betty & Barney Hill UFO Abduction Being Developed for Film on 50th Anniversary of Case

The feature film, Betty and Barney, to tell their story based on new information from the book Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience by Stanton T. Friedman and Kathleen Marden ufologists know, of course, that Betty and Barney are not just the Flintstones' next door neighbors, but the names that belong to the Hills, the married couple who became the ignition point of the modern alien abduction era.

50 years ago, on September 19, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill were driving home from Canada and about 100 miles northwest of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, when they saw a UFO at close range and then suffered one of the first recorded "missing time" episodes. Later, under hypnosis, they gave strikingly similar and detailed accounts of their kidnapping.

It is a compelling and seminal narrative of the UFO abduction phenomenon. Over the years, it has spawned books, articles, a film and even, in my own instance, an appearance in the Dark Skies series.

I'm pleased to announce, in time for the 50th anniversary, that my production company, Stellar Productions, has optioned the film rights to Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience (New Page Books) by Stanton T. Friedman, MSc. and Kathleen Marden. Friedman, of course, is the leading scientific ufologist of our time and a former nuclear physicist, the man who broke the Roswell case. Marden is Betty Hill's niece and the trustee of her estate. I'm thrilled to be in business with them in bringing this profound and unsettling case to what we all hope will be its largest audience yet.

Their book, published in 2007, reveals a wealth of new information about the Hills’ lives, the UFO encounter and abduction, and the scientific evaluation of the evidence. It has given new life to the Hills’ extraordinary story, and has caused me to get involved.

I will be working on this with friend and producer Don Most, my collaborator on Majic Men, the film script that was just completed about the competition between Stan Friedman and Don Schmitt to prove the Roswell story beyond reasonable doubt during the late 80s and early-to-mid 90s. We'll have an update on that project soon.

This won't be the first time that Betty and Barney's story has been filmed or a book written about them, but it will be the most definitive book/film combo that has come to the screen. A 1966 book, The Interrupted Journey, written by John Fuller, topped the New York Times best-seller list and went on to be the basis of a primetime NBC movie of the week, The UFO Incident, in October 1975.

Captured! -- the book I have under option that will form the basis of the film Shades of Gray -- includes previously unpublished information about the lives of the Hills before and after Barney's death in 1969, their status as celebrities, Betty's experiences as a UFO investigator, and other activities before her death in 2004. Kathleen Marden writes in depth about new details from her discussions with her aunt Betty about the event and her riveting hypnosis sessions about their time onboard the spacecraft. Stanton Friedman, the original investigator of the Roswell incident, reviews and refutes the arguments of those who have attacked the Hill case, as well as the star map that Betty Hill saw inside the craft and later recreated. That map, by the way, provides a whole new window on where humanity fits in the larger scheme of things by showing two sun-like stars that are 30 times closer to each other than our sun is to the next star over and a cool billion years older than our own sun and less than 40 light years away from us.

On a personal level, this project will allow me to tell this story in detail after a lifetime of interest in their case. While I was producing NBC's Dark Skies series (1995-1997), I included Betty and Barney Hill as characters in the pilot episode. That scene is excerpted here.

My passion for this story exists in one line I wrote for Barney Hill in that scene. When the investigator asks him if he's not concerned that people will "say things" if he speaks before a congressional committee about his experience, Barney fixes him with a stare and says, "I am a black man married to a white woman, Mister Loengard. People already say things."

Betty and Barney will tell this story from a very personal point-of-view. Those of you who have seen The Help know just how much a part race played in America in the early 1960s. Barney and Betty Hill were an interracial couple during a time when that really, really mattered. They were socially aware and politically active. Barney, just 39 years old, was the legal redress chairman of the Portsmouth NAACP and on the board of the Rockingham County Poverty Program. Betty, two years older, was a state social worker, worked with the NAACP herself and was the UN envoy for her Unitarian-Universalist Church.

During a time in our world where their race played a dominant part in theirs and everyone else's lives -- for good or bad -- the only place where they were seen as just another human being was on those exam tables aboard an ET spacecraft. Think about it.

The voice you hear telling their story at the end of that YouTube video belongs to Kathleen Marden. She maintains all of the Hill's papers and correspondence, and will be making them available during the development of the screenplay I'll be writing. What follows is short summary of events as Kathy writes about them:

Reports of a hurricane whirling up the coast had caused Betty (1919-2004) and Barney Hill (1922-1969) to cut their Canada vacation short. As they wheeled south through upstate New Hampshire on September 19, a strange lighted cigar-shaped object swooped down in their direction. As it descended closer, traveling only hundreds of feet from the passenger side of their 1957 Chevy the couple discerned a circular disk shape with a row of brightly lighted windows that lined the forward edge. Shortly thereafter, according to the Hills’ original report, it hovered less than 200 feet above them.

Barney brought the car to a halt in the middle of the highway and stepped out for an unobstructed view. He could see that the silent disk was about 80 feet in diameter. Effortlessly, it glided to Barney’s left and he followed it into a farmer’s field in North Lincoln. As it hovered only 100 feet over Barney’s head, he lifted his binoculars to his eyes for a better look at figures moving about behind the windows. The original investigation reports indicated that they were dressed in shiny black uniforms and were “somehow not human.” Something about these figures was so disturbing that Barney developed a mental block about their facial features.

Thinking that he would soon be captured if he remained in the field, he fled back to his car and sped down the highway. He intended to report his sighting to a police officer. But only moments later, his plan was thwarted when a series of code-like buzzing tones caused the car to vibrate. Almost immediately, a strange tingling sensation passed through the Hills’ bodies. They remembered very little of their journey for the next 35 miles.

As if only a moment had passed, a second series of buzzing tones jolted the couple into full consciousness. Again, they looked for the disk but didn’t see it, so they traveled home arriving later than anticipated. But that was not the end of their story. Betty’s dress was torn in several areas, the tops of Barney’s shoes were scraped, their watches never ran again, the trunk of their car was spotted with shiny circles that caused a compass needle to whirl, and they felt contaminated and uneasy. Weeks later, Betty noticed that her dress was coated with a pink powdery substance and Barney observed a perplexing concentric circle of lesions on his groin. Their search for answers led to additional questions.

It was Betty’s curiosity and Barney’s declining health that led the couple to Dr. Benjamin Simon, a highly regarded Boston psychiatrist skilled in the use of deep trance hypnosis. He knew almost nothing about UFOs but had earned his place in the annals of medical history for his huge success in the treatment of WW II psychological casualties through regressive hypnosis.

In several weeks of separate hypnosis sessions, with amnesia reinstated at the end of each, the Hills  recalled an eerily similar abduction and physical examination by non-humans aboard a landed disk. The doctor speculated that it may have been a shared dream mixed with confabulation in hypnosis. But a number of scientific researchers have uncovered evidence that it might have been real.

The information was to remain secret forever, but a violation of confidentiality led to a series of articles in a Boston newspaper in late October 1965. The Hills were horrified. The interracially married couple was well-known for their civil rights advocacy and community involvement. Barney had been appointed to serve on the State’s advisory committee to the US Civil Rights Commission. They had worked on political campaigns and a literacy program for the right to vote. He was the chairman of the board of directors for his county’s community action program. Betty was a social worker, employed by the state, and Barney worked for the post office. They expected to lose their jobs and their sterling reputations. But the public response was better than they anticipated.

Last August, by the way, the State of New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources erected a historical marker in commemoration of the Hills' UFO event. It is located on U.S. Hwy. 3 in North Lincoln near cabin #20 at the Indian Head Resort, just south of Franconia Notch. Marden and possibly Friedman will be on hand at the 51th anniversary ceremonies slated for September 14-16, 2012. For additional information, visit

This will not be an easy process, getting such a controversial book made into a film, but difficult or not, it starts now.