As we discussed in the Thunderbird photo piece, the 1970’s were a time filled with paranormal speculation. UFOs, bigfoot, poltergeists, ancient astronauts and more were common subjects of discussion on middle school playgrounds across the country. As was Star Trek, then in syndication and on the air every day after school in most markets. There couldn’t have been a more perfect show for the nerdy kid then, than In Search Of.. the show that covered all kinds of unsolved mysteries, hosted by Leonard Nimoy.
In Search Of… was born out of producer Alan Landsberg’s succes with several documentaries covering the Ancient Alien theories of Erich von Däniken, a whack job Swiss author who put forth the theory that aliens visited Earth thousands of years ago and built the pyramids, as well as jump started civilization. The books and resulting films were huge hits, so Landsburg decided to build on that momentum with a syndicated TV show. His first choice for narrator was Rod Serling, who had narrated the films, but when Serling died suddenly, Leonard Nimoy was brought in.
The show ran for six seasons and in addition to the paranormal covered historical mysteries like Jack The Ripper, Easter Island and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. The show combined interviews, re-enactments and background footage along with Nimoy’s narration. The 16mm footage along with Nimoy’s voice and creepy subject matter was enough to give a kid the creeps, no doubt leading to many a nightmare. Even today I can remember the sense of dread I felt watching the Haunted Castles episode. The Bigfoot episode was enough to make me swear off camping forever, and for some reason the Lost Colony of Roanoke episode creeped me out most of all.
The entire series run is available on YouTube, although it’s from a 1990s rebroadcast where they inexplicably changed the iconic theme song to an X-Files-inspired version.
In Search Of… was a product of it’s time, when there was still mystery in the world and we couldn’t find the answer to everything with a Google search.
Amazon has a reasonably priced box set of all the episodes, with the original theme song. The shows are still entertaining today, and pack a lot of information (and chills) into 22 minutes.