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Amelia’s Psychic Adventures with Mae West

Amelia Earhart's drive to push limits and break barriers in every way even led to her to experiment with ESP and psychic phenomena.

Less than two years after she disappeared, in 1939, her husband, George Palmer Putnam, told a reporter for Popular Aviation that Amelia “had a fragile psychic quality, some strange susceptibility to conditions beyond understanding. She rarely mentioned it to friends, never discussed it publicly. But whenever [she] participated in mental telepathy or other psychic experiments to further her curiosity, observers were astonished at the results.”

Hollywood movie star Mae West was one witness to her psychic powers. In the early 1930s, when Mae was vacationing at La Cinta, a posh resort favored by Paramount executives, she had an amazing experience with Amelia Earhart that she wrote about in her memoir Mae West on Sex, Health and ESP.

One day, Mae recalled, “I answered a knock on my door and found myself face to face with a major executive...’Amelia would like us all to get together for a seance,’ my visitor said, ‘and I was wondering if we could come by later.’...

“The courageous aviatrix and I had met, and we admired each other. My bungalow often became La Cinta's most popular meeting-place, and of course I agreed to let her hold the seance there.

“Miss Earhart was a quiet woman who often seemed uncomfortable amid the furor of publicity that she naturally created. An ardent believer in ESP and the psychic world, she was now going to share with a group of us some of the mysteries that fascinated her almost as much as flying—and I was looking forward to it.

“I'd never been to a real seance before, and so when Amelia arrived I wasn't sure what to expect. Besides the first lady of the air, the other guests included myself and a gentleman friend, the top studio executive who had arranged the seance and his girlfriend, and one or two others.

“There was a large table in one room of my bungalow, and Amelia asked us all to sit around it with our hands placed lightly on it. Nobody was to move the table in any way, but Amelia said that as the Psychic Forces were summoned, they would make their presence known by tipping the table so that it rapped on the floor in front of whomever the Forces wanted to contact.

“Each rap represented a letter, and the code was a simple one. One rap stood for the letter ‘A.’ Two raps meant 'B.' 'C' was three, 'D' four, and so on down the alphabet.

“I placed my hands on the table as Amelia asked, and the others followed suit. The table, in time, began to point to various members of the group, and one of us who wasn't taking part in the seance sat nearby with a pad and pencil to take down the number of raps and turn them into letters.

“Suddenly the table began to tip in my direction, and it went on for some time. The message, it turned out, was from my late father, and he spoke about several things which nobody in the group could have known. He told me that one of the men I was seeing at the time—the man who was present at the seance, in fact—was okay, and that I should continue to see him if I wanted to.

“But I had another admirer whom my father advised me to stay away from.

“When I read the transcriptions of my father's message, one thing made me a bit skeptical. In referring to me, he had said ‘my kid’—and that was an expression I had never heard him use during his lifetime.

“I told my friends about this discrepancy—and I got a very surprising answer.

“‘Maybe you never heard him say ‘my kid,’ Mae,’ an executive who had known my father well told me, 'but I did! He used to tell us about the things you did as a child, and whenever he told us those wonderful stories, he always called you ‘my kid’...

“A top studio executive and his girlfriend, a lovely woman he had been seeing for a number of years, were also taking part in the seance. They were a happy and popular couple, and the only thing that puzzled those who weren't close enough to the pair to understand it was why they had never married.

“The reason, insiders knew, is that the man came from a very religious Jewish family—in fact his father, who was still alive, was a cantor at a Los Angeles synagogue. The man's girlfriend was a Catholic, and he knew that a marriage would displease his father.

“The man, however, didn't know what to expect when the table tipped in his direction during the seance, and when the raps were transcribed, not even he could understand them.

“‘I don't understand this,’ the man said, looking at the paper on which his psychic message had been spelled out for him. ‘It just doesn't make sense.’

“The others among us who had gotten messages from the spirit world had had no trouble in making the words out, but this one was different. I looked at it, and though I've always had a way with words, I couldn't make any sense of the letters at all.

“Then another man who was present took the paper, and he studied it for a time.

“‘Wait a minute!’ he said suddenly. ‘This isn't in English. It's in Yiddish—but the words are spelled out phonetically.’

“It turned out that the message came from the executive's mother, and although I couldn't understand the Yiddish words, the translation moved me deeply.

“‘Do what you heart tells you,’ the message read, ‘and never mind your father.’

“The man took his mother's advice. He married his girlfriend, and the father came around. The couple had a long and happy life together thanks to their bit of help from the world beyond.”

— Susan Wels


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