Michel Zirger and Maurizio Martinelli.  The Incredible Life of George Hunt Williamson: Mystical Journey: Itinerary of a Privileged UFO Witness. Verdechiaro Edizioni, 2016.

George Hunt Williamson (1926-1986) is one of the more than semi-mysterious characters that Ufology drags up from time to time. In part this is due to the fact that he was a consummate fantasist. The authors of this admiring book take his fantasies at face value but provide just enough evidence to destroy them. The authors clearly take the tales told by George Adamski and his ilk at face value also, but despite their credulity their book provides a fascinating insight into the cultic milieu in which Williamson moved, and it is interesting to see that his story acts as one of the links between Adamski, the famous cult at the centre of When Prophecy Fails, and the group surrounding Uri Geller and Andreja Puharich.

His start in life seems to have been much more prosaic; born on December 6 1926 as George Leonard Hunt Jnr, the son of George Leonard Williamson and Bernice Hunt. George Snr is listed as the owner of the Radiation Cabinet Company in the 1930 census but by 1940 was an industrial painter and decorator. George Hunt Williamson's life seemed to be mapped out to be the first person in his family to go to university, where he studied anthropology. About 1950 he seems to have dropped out of academia and into the fringe world of the occult. In this he claimed to have contacted space intelligences by means of radio, the Ouija board and other occult means He became one of the witnesses of George Adamski’s alleged meeting with a Venusian and then went on to write three books that were among the pioneers of the ancient astronaut type, mixing occultism, science fiction and populist rhetoric.

The death of his first wife Betty in Peru while he was on a lecture tour in Europe seems to have severed the thin hold he had on reality. He seems to have been wholly taken up with some family legend that he was descended from the former Serb royal family of Obrenovic and got his mother to write out an affidavit which said that her mother’s father was Wilhelm Maximillian Osborn, who was really Wilhelm Maximillian Obrenovic Obelitz von Lasar the heir to the throne of Serbia, who had been born about 1820, had been smuggled out of the country after his father was killed when the boy was seven, was then raised by the King of Saxony, and visited to Paris where he married the cousin of Empress Eugenie of France, Maria de Montijo de Guzzman. Records however show that Williamson’s mother's parents were William Steven Osborn an Illinois farmer, canvasser and doctor born in 1842 not 1820 and Mary Emily Petty. Both of the these people’s parents were as American as apple pie, not a Serb in sight.

The story may have come from Williamson’s maternal grandmother Katharyne Lorin Osborn, described as a writer of short stories, world traveller who spoke eight languages and was friend of Queen Elizabeth of Romania. City directories give her the more prosaic life as a dressmaker in Spokane, Washington. On the basis of these fantasies Williamson changed his name to Michel D’Obrenovic. Being Obrenovic wasn’t good enough for him though, so he fantasied that the family, descended from an early nineteenth century freedom fighter, and were really descended from Prince Lazar, a claim the family never made for themselves.

It was under that name that Williamson married the over-the-hill starlet Jennifer (Marshall) Elizabeth Holt, becoming her fifth and last husband in 1973 (they divorced in 1979). During this time he tried to get into films without much success. Earlier in 1967 he had tried to return to the academic mainstream and finally got his anthropology doctorate, but academia held little appeal. More to his taste was becoming a wandering bishop in the 'Orthodox Christian Church' and later founding his own 'Holy Apostolic Catholic Church' and becoming a sort of adopted son of Thelma Dunlap, one of the archetypal 'little old ladies in tennis shoes'.

In the end it is more probable that Williamson was a classic case of Caraboo Syndrome, rather than a conscious confidence trickster. In the admiring world of the cultic milieu he could find an outlet of his sense of importance and need for display. I suspect that he had wanted to be an actor but his parents wanted him to be something respectable like an academic, so he turned his whole life into a series of acting roles.This critical account will no doubt be regarded by the authors of this book as just more scepticism. For my part, I find it baffling and a Fortean phenomenon in itself, how intelligent and cultured people can even for a few moments take the tales told by George Adamski and his ilk at face value. -- Peter Rogerson.


  1. Caraboo Syndrome? More info, please?

  2. "Princess Cariboo, who made a very convincing Princess of Sumatra until she was unmasked as a cobbler’s daughter from the Devon village of Witheridge. She gave her name to ‘Caraboo Syndrome’, a condition where individuals are enmeshed in a self-delusional fantasy, and are able to involve others in it."