Dispatches > In Brief

In Brief

News highlights from around the world

Issue: "Fact & Fiction," Dec. 21, 2002

The Death of a Myth?

Is the search for Bigfoot finally over? It was all a joke, according to a man who said his father strapped on 16-inch carved feet and left fake footprints behind him.

Ray L. Wallace in 1958-in Humboldt County, Calif.-started the prank that became a sensation. When he died last month at age 84, his family decided to give up the gag. "The reality is, Bigfoot just died," son Michael said. Nephew Dale Lee Wallace says he has the carved-alder feet.

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The biggest sighting of all came in October 1967. Roger Patterson claimed to have filmed Bigfoot running across a northern California sandbar. Skeptics said it was a man in a monkey suit.

Idaho State University anatomy professor Jeff Meldrum still claims the creature exists. He says Bigfoot stories date back to the 19th century and that he has casts of 40 to 50 footprints made by unknown primates: "To suggest all these are explained by simple carved feet strapped to boots just doesn't wash." But faith in Bigfoot seems even stranger. | Chris Stamper

Man knows not his time

Roone Arledge changed TV news and sports, developing such innovations as football's instant replay and ABC's Nightline. He died this month at age 71 of complications from cancer.

Mr. Arledge came to ABC in the 1960s and began jazzing up a floundering operation. Starting with the network's NCAA telecasts, he added slow motion, freeze-frame views, and instant replays. To bring the action closer to home, he introduced hand-held cameras and placed microphones close to the field.

Mr. Arledge created the long-running Wide World of Sports show, supervised the broadcast of 10 Olympic Games, including the tragic 1972 games in Munich, and hired the controversial Howard Cosell for Monday Night Football.

In 1977, ABC tapped Mr. Arledge to run the network's struggling news division. Two years later, he grabbed a late-night time slot for the show that became Nightline. He changed network news programming but not worldview. | Chris Stamper

A century of Goodwill

In 1902 Boston minister Edgar J. Helms wanted to raise $50,000 to replace his Boston church building, so unsafe that it was about to be condemned. He and his staff had the idea of repairing and selling old clothes and other material donations, and it worked. In 1905 Helms incorporated his new enterprise, and the first branch of what is now Goodwill Industries opened its doors.

Goodwill grew during its first three decades and then was hit by the Depression, as were other charities. Its donations fell by 20 percent, yet the organization was still strong enough to allow Helms in 1934 to make an offer to Harry Hopkins, President Franklin Roosevelt's key anti-poverty advisor: If the federal government gave Goodwill a $5 million grant, it would put every unemployed American to work. The Roosevelt administration, committed to expanding the federal bureaucracy, said no, and the growth of federal dominance of poverty-fighting was underway.

Goodwill during the 1930s maintained church connections. As one of its officials, R.E. Scully, noted in 1935: "The ideals of the Goodwill Industries are distinctly religious," and the Goodwill goal was to "seek to save the man, his self-respect, his morale, and his soul." Since then Goodwill's evangelism has been muted, but Goodwill now has nearly 70,000 employees and sells almost $1 billion worth of goods through stores run by 179 affiliated groups in the United States and Canada. | Marvin Olasky

Sleeping disorder?

It sounds too good to be true, and the FTC says it is. Mark Nutritionals says its weight-loss product burns away fat while users sleep, and the company hired DJs around the country to pitch the product. Now the company faces deceptive advertising suits filed by the FTC, Texas, and Illinois.

DJs pitched Body Solutions Evening Weight Loss Formula on over 650 stations in 110 cities. Local radio hosts described how they lost weight by taking the supplement before going to bed.

"It helped me lose 36 pounds and it helps me maintain through the holidays," claimed one of the pitches. "I mean, I ate so much over Thanksgiving, I still have turkey burps. But thanks to Body Solutions, I keep the weight off and now I'm ready for Christmas."

The agency claims Body Solutions was said to "cause substantial weight loss even if users eat substantial amounts of high-calorie foods such as pizza, beer, tacos, nachos, cheese grits, and doughnuts."

The FTC says there is no scientific proof that the concoction promotes weight loss. (The agency is not suing the DJs who read the ads, however.)

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