Brad E. Steiger February 19, 1936 ~ May 6, 2018.
The well-known investigator of monsters, mysteries, Fortean phenomena, UFOs, the Heaven’s Gate cult, conspiracies, and so much more, author Brad Steiger, 82, of Mason City, Iowa, died on Sunday, May 6, 2018, at the Muse Norris Hospice Inpatient Unit, according to the Major Erickson Funeral Home. (For more on Mason City, please see, Twilight Language ~ “Mason City: Brad Steiger, The Music Man, The Day the Music Died, and the Griffins.”)
Steiger was born as Eugene E. Olson on February 19, 1936, at the Fort Dodge (Iowa) Lutheran Hospital during a blizzard. He grew up on a farm in Bode, Iowa. He identified as Lutheran until the age of eleven, when a near-death experience changed his religious beliefs. His parents encouraged him to become a teacher. He graduated from Iowa’s Luther College in 1957 and the University of Iowa in 1963. He taught high school English before teaching Literature and Creative Writing at his former college from 1963 to 1967.
Steiger claimed to have written his first book at age seven. His first published book, Ghosts, Ghouls and Other Peculiar People, appeared in 1965, with a cover blurb from his friend, Ivan T. Sanderson. Steiger became a full-time writer by 1967.
Some of Brad Steiger’s books clearly show that his beginning interests overlapped with where the assignments in publishing wanted him to go, often through some Hollywood connections. Steiger wrote biographies on Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, and Rudolph Valentino. His book Valentino (first edition, 1966) served as the basis for the 1977 motion picture, Valentino, directed by Ken Russell and starring Rudolf Nureyev, Michelle Phillips, and Leslie Caron. Steiger’s book, Unknown Powers (New York: Berkley, 1981) was adapted into the documentary scripted by Don Como, Richard Cory, and Steiger. The nonfiction movie won the Film Advisory Board’s Award of Excellence for 1979. The film featured Jack Palance as narrator with Will Geer, Roscoe Lee Browne, and Samantha Eggar.
His books also demonstrated his ability to dive into other subjects deeply. The Johnny Cash Story (New York: Lancer Books) and The Country Music Scrapbook (New York: Lancer Books) were both published in 1970.
Steiger was married to Sherry Hansen Steiger, an author and minister, in 1987, whom he felt was his “star” soulmate. They have five children and nine grandchildren. With his wife Sherry Hansen Steiger, Brad coauthored the 2013 book, Four-legged Miracles: Heartwarming Tales of Lost Dogs’ Journeys Home.
Brad was involved with investigating Heaven’s Gate too.
Left to right, Brad Steiger, Ti, Do and Hayden Hewes. Hayden and a colleauge from the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma City interviewed Ti and Do as Bonnie and Herf, the first names of their vehicles, on July 13, 1974 and then Brad was in on an interview about 14 months later after they were “shot down by the media (press)” which occurred to start in October of 1975. Hayden Hewes and Brad Steiger compiled their interviews and got their book published originally as UFO Missionaries Extraordinary. Ti and Do are called The Two.
Brad, for most of his life, lived quietly and secretly in an Iowa location, where he rarely made public appearances and enjoyed his calm life writing his next book or two.
Brad began his early adult life as Eugene E. Olson, a creative writing professor, in Iowa. The stories I first heard about Brad, who has been a friend of mine for six decades, were of this mild-mannered professor who would run upstairs to his near-attic-like office, and pounded out books at an incredible rate to support his family.
Brad’s life continued along a path that would merge his writing with a pen-name, Brad Steiger, that became his own (he officially changed his name). He found the time and space to allow himself the freedom to leave his former restrained framework behind him, and he shared his life with his beloved Sherry (shown below).
The following is a partial list of books that Steiger has authored or co-authored which will remain of special interest to cryptozoology and Forteana students. Cryptozoologically, Brad Steiger was extremely interested in the topic of mystery creatures.
Monsters, Maidens, and Mayhem: A Pictorial History of Hollywood Film Monsters. Chicago: Merit Books, 1965.
Master Movie Monsters. Chicago: Merit Books, 1965.
The Abominable Snowmen. New York: Award Books, 1969. London: Tandem Books, 1969.
Weird Unsolved Mysteries. New York: Award Books, 1969.
The Under People. New York: Award Books, 1969.
Mysteries of Time and Space. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974.
The Strange World of Brad Steiger (Collection of newspaper columns of the same name). New York: Kensington/Zebra, 1975.
Monsters Among Us. Rockport, MA: Para Research, 1982. New York: Berkley, 1989. Lakeville, MN: Galde Press, 2006. This is Brad’s most comprehensive cryptozoological book. His chapter on Momo is unique. His contributions added new details on the sightings of this now famous 1972 Missouri “Eastern Bigfoot” or “Marked Hominid.”
Mysteries of Animal Intelligence. New York: Tor Books, 1995. Reissued by Tor/Amazon, 2007.
The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings Detroit: Visible Ink, 1999, which was recently revised and updated as The Werewolf Book 2nd Edition (Visible Ink Books, 2012).
Out of the Dark: A Complete Guide to Beings from Beyond. New York: Kensington, 2001.
The Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and the Unexplained. Three Volumes. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2003.
Real Monsters, Gruesome Creatures, and Beasts from the Darkside. Visible Ink Press, 2010.
Steiger appeared as a radio guest on Coast to Coast AM, the Jeff Rense Program, and a few other programs, often talking about UFOs, monsters, or conspiracies. Despite knowing so much about so many topics, Brad refused, in recent years, to leave Iowa or appear in television documentaries. His IMDb entry belies his modern impact throughout the field of unexplained investigations.
I’ve known Brad since the 1960s, and corresponded with him frequently. This included our working on several overlapping projects. A dozen years ago, for instance, I wrote the “Foreword” to his Strange Guests (NY: Anomalist Books, 2006). For me, it was a happy combination of appreciating Brad’s work, and appearing alongside the late Ivan T. Sanderson to freely support Brad’s down-to-earth look at poltergeists.
Anomalist Books has been the source of republishing several of Brad Steiger earlier books, including these titles:
And now a word about Eric Norman…
A few years ago, to deal with the long term rumors that Brad Steiger was a pen name for “Eric Norman,” I interviewed Brad and wrote (in ”The Mystery of Eric Norman” by Loren Coleman, TAPS ParaMagazine, July 2007) about how the real Warren Smith (Warren William Billy Smith, 1931–2003) and Brad had created the pseudonym of Eric Norman. (BTW, Brad Steiger denied he was “Warren Smith,” as well as “Gardner Soule,” another elusive author of the paperback era. See “When Cryptozoology Had Soule,” Cryptomundo, March 27, 2012.)
Warren Smith infamously known for the 1970 book, Strange Abominable Snowmen, which is partially fictionalized, was an old friend of Brad’s in Iowa. Together, Brad and Warren co-wrote: The Under People (NY: Lancer Books, 1969); Gods, Demons & UFOs (NY: Lancer Books, 1970); Gods and Devils from Outer Space (NY: Lancer books, 1973); and other “Eric Norman” titles.
Of course, names in the game of authors’ pseudonyms sometimes take strange twists. In 1969, Brad Steiger solely employed the name “Eric Norman” as his own, writing The Abominable Snowmen (NY: Award Books, 1969).
With the recent 2018 death of Brad Steiger, and the 2003 death of Warren Smith, I must announce, therefore, that “Eric Norman” is now “deceased” too. (That is, unless, someone else decides to use it, and if that occurs, the Brad Steiger estate may have something legally to say about that, as he once reportedly did before he passed away.)
It was been a long and winding road for Brad, who started writing books in 1965. His eventual total output would number over 170 books, with over 17 million copies in print. The final book from Brad (with Sherry) is due out September 2018, Haunted: Malevolent Ghosts, Night Terrors, and Threatening Phantoms from Visible Ink Press.
Brad was a friend to many, and introduced millions of his readers to new ideas. He will be deeply missed.
My condolences to Sherry, and Brad’s extended family.