In 1963, on a Jack Paar TV special, well-known professional psychic and Plan 9 From Outer Space star Criswell shocked the world by proclaiming that "President Kennedy will not run for reelection in 1964 because of something that will happen to him in November 1963." Throughout the '60s, Criswell claimed to have predicted everything from the deaths of Jayne Mansfield and Martin Luther King to the gubernatorial election of Ronald Reagan. In 1968, his first book, Criswell Predicts, was published, detailing the future world's leaders, technology, wars, and demise.
The end of the world, it is written in Criswell Predicts, will take place Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1999. That day, every point on earth will be covered by a black rainbow—not just any black rainbow, mind you, but "a jet-black rainbow; an ebony rainbow; a black rainbow which will signify the coming suffocation of our world. This black rainbow will seemingly bring about, through some mysterious force beyond our comprehension, a lack of oxygen. It will draw the oxygen from our atmosphere, as a huge snake encircling the world and feeding upon the oxygen which we need to exist. Hour after hour, it will grow worse. And we will grow weaker. It is through this that we will be so weakened that when the final end arrives, we will go silently, we will go gasping for breath, and then there will be only silence on the earth."
As the people of earth begin preparation for the arrival of this deadly, energy-sucking rainbow—this jet-black, ebony, black rainbow—it helps to study Criswell's devastating psychic accuracy, as touted on the back of his first book. According to the jacket copy, an amazing "87% of Criswell's predictions have come true," and there's no reason to question the validity of such a figure. Lest you hold out any hope that his doomsday prophesy falls within a statistically insignificant 13% window of incorrect predictions, the occasional falsehoods in the excerpts that follow account for just about the equivalent of 13% of Criswell Predicts.
In short, our planet is doomed.
Here, then, is a look at 20 of Criswell's terrifyingly prescient observations, with commentary bearing the benefit of hindsight.
Homosexual Cities (p. 13)
I predict that perversion will flood the land beginning in 1970. I predict a series of homosexual cities, small, compact, carefully planned areas, will soon be blatantly advertised and exist from coast to coast. These compact communities will be complete with stores, churches, bars and restaurants which will put the olden Greeks or Romans to shame with their organized orgies. You will be able to find them near Boston, Des Moines, Columbus, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, St. Louis, New Orleans, Dallas, and Miami.
Much thought and planning will be expended in setting up these communities where perversion will parade shamelessly. And all this will be within the law because the perverted will claim they have been discriminated against. The Supreme Court will rule that whatever these consenting adult males, or females, wish to do, they can!
True: Gay rights have been upheld in many courts, while gay neighborhoods exist in cities throughout the land.
False: There are no organized orgies in Des Moines.
Space Stations (p. 16)
The U.S. and Russia will, separately and jointly, during the 1970s begin to set up space stations. Progress will be slow until the late 1970s when discovery of antimagnetic forces will free man from the laws of gravity and make space travel without rocket propulsion possible.
I predict that man's exploration of space and the building of space stations will be the salvation of the human race.
By 1999 there will be more than 200 of these space stations in existence. They will house entire colonies—men, women, and children.
When the earth is destroyed on August 18, 1999, these space colonists will be the only Earth-humans left in the Universe.
True: The U.S. and Russia have teamed up to work on a space station.
False: It, too, is doomed.
Mother Earth (p. 18)
Can our whirling, turning, churning earth last out the night? Our geologists tell us that the danger to Mother Earth lies not in the uncharted vast of outer space, but from inner-earth! … Here is what will more than likely happen according to geologists: Small tidal waves will play havoc for no reason at all. The surface of the earth will bulge ever so slightly and highways will slightly buckle. Foundations will tip, and floors will slant. When you pour a cup of coffee or a glass of water, the rim will not level. Telephone coin boxes and vending machines will refuse to work. Delicate instruments will go haywire. Elevators will go out of whack. Jukeboxes will be mute. Radio and TV will fail. All electric power, gas and water service will cease. And then will come the time when garbage cans roll across the street for no apparent reason. Then and only then will you realize the advanced corrosion spelling the end of our Earth. The seas will quickly fill up with a gooey mass of inner-earth rubble. Our streets and city lots, farms, and deserts will bubble up like a festered oil, marking the complete collapse. Has this happened before? More than likely. And it will again happen in your incredible future.
True: Since the publication of Criswell Predicts, highways have buckled, cups of coffee have not stood level, and vending machines and elevators have broken.
False: The prehistoric collapse of Earth to which Criswell refers likely did not include jukeboxes.
Television Education (p. 19)
I predict education will be given to children through the television screen, no personal teachers, but there will be a warden on duty to see that one hundred percent interest is sustained. Later, education-memory pills will help give you all of the education you can possibly use.
True: Television serves as the primary educational tool for most Americans.
False: No education-memory pills are dispensed as part of public education programs.
Aphrodisiacal Era (p. 21)
I predict that our own United States will in the future be swept by the popular clouds of an aphrodisiacal fragrance. … This aroma will fill every man and woman who inhales it with uncontrolled passion. It will be sold at first "underground" like LSD or STP today. But it will soon become easily available. …
I predict that the sex urge will advance rapidly and many men will flagrantly expose themselves in public. Grandfathers will be accused of seducing their granddaughters and uncles will be jailed under similar crimes. Women will begin to think more of their appearance and they will have new hair styles, more attractive clothing and will use more cosmetics than ever before. [T]he driving sex urge will eventually cause orgies even greater than those of decadent Rome during the reign of the unmentionable Caesars. … In Los Angeles, California, particularly Hollywood, sex acts will be performed openly, unashamedly on the streets. I predict that this will be difficult to control, for even the members of the law enforcement agencies will be dominated by the powerful cloud of aphrodisiac. Many cases of incest will be reported.
I predict a wealthy San Francisco attorney will announce his marriage to his mother and a Hollywood producer will openly declare his daughter is going to bear his child, and a young man in Arkansas will ask to be legally wed to his pet cat. …
Date of the aphrodisiacal era: May 1, 1988, to March 30, 1989.
True: Industries revolving around new hairstyles, attractive clothing, and cosmetics have flourished.
False: Throughout the late '80s, cat-fucking was societally discouraged, even in Arkansas.
The Destruction Of Denver, Colorado (p. 29)
I predict that this catastrophe will take place during the tourist season and the fun-loving people in the amusement zone will suddenly find their day of pleasure turned into one of horror. A roller coaster will rise and sway, throwing cars and occupants to the ground below. A Ferris wheel will collapse and carry many children to untimely deaths. A penny arcade will become a dungeon of doom, a canopy of a merry-go-round will plunge down upon its most innocent riders. I predict only silence will reign where there was once laughter and gaiety. The citizenry of this Colorado city will find themselves enveloped in a jelly-like substance that was once brick, concrete, steel and lumber. They will be unable to escape for it will be impossible to cut through or tear this substance. Although soft and pliable it will still retain the strength and weight formerly possessed. I predict in the outskirts the conditions will not be as serious but fleeing people will find themselves mired in roadways and hardly able to move.
I predict that scientists from all over the world will be called upon to help but no one will be able to offer relief for they will not be able to conquer this terrible force, this mysterious force from outer space. Gradually, as conditions ease survivors will be evacuated but this will become a dead city and will never again be reborn. I predict this unfortunate community will be a victim of elements beyond our control and will always be remembered until the end of time. I predict the name of the city will be Denver, Colorado. The date: June 9, 1989.
True: Criswell is exactly right.
False: Not applicable.
Castro Assassination (p. 31)
I predict the assassination of Fidel Castro by a woman, on August 9, 1970.
True: Castro's daughter—a woman!—fled Cuba and publicly criticized her father.
False: Castro, having turned Cuba into a communist utopia and economic superpower, has never been assassinated. He remains in power to this day, continuing his reign as a beloved world leader.
American Tragedy (p. 31)
I predict that tragedy will once again strike one of America's best known families, shortly after its most widely loved member has remarried. Her remarriage will be a mistake.
True: Many tragedies have struck the Kennedy family since the release of Criswell Predicts, but the one to which Criswell likely refers is the plane-crash death of John F. Kennedy, Jr.
False: He died immediately before, not after, the wedding of the Kennedy family's most celebrated member, America's Sweetheart Rory Kennedy. Also, there is little chance that her marriage will fail before the arrival of an apocalyptic ebony rainbow on Aug. 18, 1999.
The Great Drought And Flood (p. 41)
I predict that in the year 1977 the face of the earth will be completely changed. Rain will not fall for a period of ten months. I predict that our great lakes will become beds of sand and rivers will slow down to a trickle. … The results of this drought will be catastrophic. I predict starvation, disease, insanity and death on an unprecedented scale. Hospitals will be overburdened and the death rate will be so high that the dead will remain unburied for weeks at a time. This will be known as the era of the black death, the twentieth-century black death. I predict that New York City will become a ghost town with industry at a standstill, for power will go dead, subways will be emptied and out of service, and the entire transportation system of this once steaming metropolis will be totally crippled. The populace will leave by the thousands in their search for water. The nation's highways will be filled with helpless, struggling people.
In the great Midwest, I predict that the dust bowl of Kansas will be the death trap for countless humans and animals. Farms, fields and homesteads will be covered by mountains of sand and dust and no form of life can exist.
True: Subways in New York are often out of service. The nation's highways are routinely filled with helpless, struggling people.
False: Because, as Criswell later predicts, the seat of the U.S. government now resides in Kansas, great pains were made to make the state drought-resistant.
Ronald Reagan (p. 53)
I predict that Ronald Reagan will not seek reelection as Governor of California.
True: Ronald Reagan eventually did not seek reelection as Governor of California.
False: He did, however, seek (and win) reelection as Governor of California in 1970, two years after the release of Criswell Predicts.
Septuplets (p. 57)
I predict that a set of septuplets, all boys, will be born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on January 19, 1973. All will live—the first such case in history.
True: The first known case of surviving septuplets was documented in Iowa.
False: The famed McCaughey Septuplets—four boys and three girls—were born nearly 25 years later, leading to The Great Septuplets-Related Media Circle-Jerk Of 1997.
Interplanetary (p. 57)
Las Vegas, Nevada, March 10, 1990: The very first Interplanetary Convention will be held in the new Convention Center on the famed Strip with colony citizens of Mars, Venus, Neptune and the Moon in full representation; Governor Sawyer will make the opening welcome address.
True: The very first Interplanetary Convention was held in the new Convention Center on the famed Strip with colony citizens of Mars, Venus, Neptune and the Moon in full representation. Governor Sawyer made the opening welcome address.
False: This took place on March 8, 1990, not March 10.
Meteor Destroys London: 1988 (p. 79)
London, England, will be the target of this heartless killer from outer space. The meteor will strike in a heavily populated sector of London and will hit with unprecedented force, rocking the earth for hundreds of miles and slightly shifting the position of the earth. Shocks will be felt as far away as Paris, Lisbon, Denmark, Australia, India, China, South Africa, South America, and Washington, D.C. I predict that the once proud city of London will be a tomb of death. Entire slum areas will be completely wiped out. Date: October 18, 1988.
True: London was indeed rocked in 1988.
False: It was not rocked by a meteor, but rather by the chart-topping musical sensations Bros and Wet Wet Wet. Many survived.
Kansas (p. 94)
I predict that Kansas will become the most important state in the United States, due to the moving of the Federal capital from Washington, D.C., to Wichita. The broad plains and prairies will be a roof above multi-story government buildings, constructed wholly underground. The largest airports in the world will be constructed in Kansas to serve the needs of the new capital of the United States.
True: Kansas is the most important state in the Union.
False: This is due to the success of Kansan roots-rocker Melissa Etheridge, not the displacement of the U.S. government.
Rhode Island (p. 105)
I predict that Rhode Island will be the center of a new movement of the youth of the nation that will make the hippie movement look normal. The next movement will be youth's rebellion through nudism. And this movement will begin in Rhode Island and spread throughout the land.
True: Criswell successfully predicted the "streaking" craze of the mid-'70s.
False: This craze did not make the hippie movement look normal.
South Dakota (p. 105)
I predict that South Dakota will become the first state to legalize prostitution and the sale of marijuana. I predict that a group of ruthless men will control the state government of South Dakota in the late 1970s and their open traffic in prostitution and drugs will cause repercussions throughout the country.
True: Ruthless men have been in power in South Dakota.
False: Not much else has happened there. Criswell might have done well to hedge his bets and predict as much.
Vermont (p. 107)
I predict that on February 11, 1981, there will be an abortive attempt by a foreign power to bomb the United States with atomic missiles. Most of the missiles will be destroyed by anti-missile missiles, but several will be only driven off course and will drop on the helpless state of Vermont. The death toll on that date will exceed 50,000 persons.
True: The U.S. has developed missile-defense systems capable of missing numerous targets.
False: None have yet been linked to the destruction of Vermont.
New York City And The Shifting Coastline (p. 112)
New York will not exist as we know it today after January 21, 1980. Shifting ocean currents and earth tremors will begin to remake the eastern coast of the United States beginning in 1971. At first the changes will be small, but within three years our geologists will know what is happening. As the coast-line shifts, the land will sink and the ocean will pour inland. Before 1978, Long Island will be mostly underwater. Only the areas that can be protected by hastily erected dikes will escape—and they, not for long. Manhattan will become a city of canals, like Venice. Billions of dollars will be spent to save New York, but by 1980, all efforts will have failed and a new New York will rise, further inland, at a great expense.
True: Due to poor drainage, Manhattan is a city of canals on most rainy days.
False: By 1978, the bodies of water surrounding New York City had not yet recovered from The Great Drought Of 1977.
Men Become Cannibals (p. 115)
I predict an outburst of cannibalism that will terrorize the population of one of the industrial cites in the state of Pennsylvania—Pittsburgh. Mass mournings will be held for the victims. A smile will be unknown. The fate of this city of Pittsburgh will never be forgotten… Date: November 28 to December 21, 1980.
True: The fate of the city of Pittsburgh has never been forgotten.
False: Outbreaks of cannibalism never dampened Pittsburgh's spirits, and smiles have remained a staple of daily life there.
John F. Kennedy, Jr. (p. 118)
I predict that John F. Kennedy Jr. will serve the state of Massachusetts as a U.S. Senator but will not seek the presidency of the United States.
True: Kennedy did not seek the presidency of the United States.
False: He did not find the time before his death—not to mention the pending arrival of an apocalyptic black rainbow—to run for president.