Telegrams From the Dead


Episode Info

While the 19th century saw great advances in science and technology, it also spawned the 40-year craze known as "spiritualism." Originally telecast as an episode of the Emmy award-winning PBS series The American Experience, this program traces the beginning of spiritualism to 1848, when reports of mysterious noises heard by two girls wound up captivating the attention of newspaper readers. Narrated by acclaimed actress Ellen Burstyn, the show takes a look at the sociological reasons for the fascination with the occult by American society, including intelligent and famous people such as Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley. Congress even debated funding research into communicating with the dead. Featured are interviews with Rev. Anne Gehman, of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, and James "The Amazing" Randi the magician and author who, like Harry Houdini, enjoys debunking the occult aspects of his business. For his script, director Matthew Collins received a nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Television and Radio Writing by the Writers Guild of America, East.