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Descendants of Harry Sayles Conover (357692)

Generation One

557. Harry Sayles1 Conover (357692) was born August 29, 1911 Chicago, Cook County, Illinois; m. Jessica Wilcox (359352) 1946; d. July 21, 1965 New York City, New York County, New York, at age 53.

1920 census

Harry Conover age 9 b Illinois

Mother Grace Byrnes age 29 b Illinois

Grandfather John Byrnes age 49 b Illinois

Grandmother Mary Byrnes age 41 b Illinois. In 1923 Harry Sayles Conover (357692) Peekskill Military Academy, Peekskill, Westchester County, New York. He was a radio performer circa 1935. He was the owner of between 1939 and 1959 Conover Modeling Agency, New York City, New York County, New York. Coined the term "Cover Girl."

Jessica Wilcox (359352) was born on December 31, 1925 Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey. She was also known as Candy Jones. Victim?

Candy Jones, America's most successful model of the 1940's, was born Jessica Wilcox in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on 31st December 1925. Her mother seems to have been both puritanical and cold; her father deserted them when she was three, after which Candy and her mother moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to stay with her grandmother. Candy grew to love her grandmother more than her parents, hardly surprising as one story she told about of a visit from her father described him crushing her fingers in a nutmeg grater.

Candy's mother never let her mix with other children, and she was often locked in dark rooms on her own, where she developed strong relationships with imaginary friends. One of these friends was called Arlene, and though the other imaginary figures of her childhood were soon forgotten, Arlene remained as a second personality, growing up with Candy. Arlene's character was almost the opposite of Candy's, with some of the hardness and cruelty of her mother, and a sarcastic and cruel character, with a harsh low voice, very different from Candy's.

At sixteen Candy entered and won the 1941 Miss Atlantic City contest, which led to a job as official hostess at the Miss America pageant, and lots of publicity. She subsequently became America's most famous model during the forties, and in 1944/45 toured with the USO in the South Pacific, with a show specifically designed for her. In April 1945, in Morotai, she became very ill with undulant fever and malaria, and was put in a special hospital in the Philippines, where she subsequently developed a contagious fungus. Here she became friends with a number of medics including an officer whose name Donald Bain doesn't reveal in his book The Control of Candy Jones (see Sources below) but gives the pseudonym 'Gilbert Jenson'. Within six weeks she was feeling well enough to travel.

In 1946 she married Harry Conover, creator of the 'cover girl' concept. But the marriage was not a happy one and they divorced in 1959. After the divorce, which left Candy in heavy debt, she had her own modeling school. It was at this time she met a retired army general she knew from South Pacific, and within a few days of this was approached by an FBI man who borrowed a sophisticated microphone from her. A month later the same man returned with two others and asked to use her office as a mail drop for the government. Thinking it the patriotic thing to do she agreed, but little did she know that this was the beginning of something much bigger, and much more sinister, than she could ever imagine.

In the sixties she worked for NBC radio, and maintained her close association with influential people in show business, politics and the military establishment, many of whom she'd met while touring with the USO in the mid forties.

In December 1972, at the age of 47, Candy married Long John Nebel, New York's most successful and controversial radio talk-show host. They had dated for only 28 days, though they had known each since 1941. Almost immediately Nebel noticed something strange about his new wife. She sometimes spoke in an odd, aggressive voice and showed sharp mood swings.

Candy was also suffering from insomnia, so in June 1973, Nebel offered to try and hypnotise her to cure it. Candy maintained that she couldn't be hypnotised, and although Nebel had never done it before, he was convinced his extensive reading on the subject would see him through. It seems that Candy made a highly suggestible subject, almost uniquely so, though perhaps helped by her great faith in her husband. Whatever the reason she had her first proper night's sleep for months as a result of this treatment. At subsequent sessions Candy began to spontaneously age regress and talked in a child's voice. But it was the other, non-childhood, regressions that worried Nebel and prompted him to buy a tape recorder to keep a record of these disturbing conversations. Later in June the personality of Candy's childhood playmate, Arlene Grant, with her deep severe tones appeared, and through hypnotic regression, a sinister tale of Candy's past emerged.

What she detailed in these hypnotic sessions began during the time that her office was used as a mail drop for a government agency. Apparently she was asked to carry a letter for the CIA to a man in San Francisco. This man was Gilbert Jensen, whom she remembered as the medic from the Philippines, he then asked her to go to his office in Oakland to discuss the letter and other interesting and lucrative work she could do for the CIA. Jensen told her that she would carry messages now and then for them, and said she needed a passport under an assumed name, as she would sometimes have to travel abroad. The name she chose was Arlene Grant.

So far, none of what she was doing was particularly unusual during the Cold War, in fact she joined thousands of Americans who worked for innumerable units like the one headed by Jensen, established and ran by the CIA. Like other citizens working part-time for the 'The Company', as the CIA was known, her part would be kept secret, so secret that even the records branch at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, knew nothing of her. Jensen, her 'control agent', would be her only contact.

Jensen told her that she would need to be in good health for her undercover work and suggested she needed vitamins, which he injected into her intravenously from then on. These 'vitamins' were actually highly experimental drugs. He also told her about hypnosis and its uses, demonstrating it by hypnotising her, although she insisted she couldn't be hypnotised. It was then that he found Arlene, and developed her into someone he could use. Arlene was brought out and took Candy over, and in reality it was her who was sent on various experimental missions at home and abroad. Candy would become Arlene in appearance too, wearing a wig and different make-up. Of course Candy was programmed not to remember all this, but when Donald Bain talked to her for his book she still had one of the passport photos of her as Arlene ( which Bain published), wearing a black wig and dark make-up.

Candy as Arlene attended training camps, military bases and secret medical facilities throughout America. She was trained to use explosives, to fight in close combat with improvised weaponry such as a hatpin, and taught about disguise and communications. She learned how to kill with her bare hands, resist pain, and deal with interrogation techniques. She carried and was taught to use a .22-caliber pistol, and was introduced to such devices as a lipstick containing poison, which could be used to commit suicide, if captured, by biting into the stick. She also learned how code numbers could be painted on her nails and covered with nail polish. All Candy Jones knew about all this was that she had occasionally delivered mail for her government. She was not aware of her alter ego Arlene at all, though Arlene knew all about her, and thought her weak.

There is a distinct possibility that Jensen was experimenting with what could be done with this 'perfect spy', and that the messages that Candy delivered were only of minor importance. It was the method that was the essential thing. There is also no way of knowing where the CIA's involvement with Candy ended, and Jensen and his own ideas for the project (or himself), took over.

There is some evidence outside that from hypnotic regression for this strange tale. Candy told her editor at Harper and Row, Joe Vergara (whom Bain interviewed), that she sometimes worked for a government agency as a courier and might disappear occasionally. She also mentioned that she would travelling to Asia. There was also a letter she wrote to her attorney, William Williams, to cover herself in case she died or disappeared suddenly or under unusual circumstances; she told him she was not at liberty to reveal exactly what she was involved in. Bain wrote to Williams who corroborated this fact. So, clearly, Candy was involved in something she was not at liberty to discuss, even with the people close to her.

In the beginning Candy's missions were simply to carry messages, Jensen would phone her but rarely spoke, what she normally heard was a sequence of electronic sounds which set off a reaction within her. From this signal to her subconscious she knew that she had to call Jensen, through a New York telephone exchange, at his office in Oakland, then she would receive her instructions verbally.

In Autumn,1966, Candy took the first of her two, possibly three, trips to Taiwan for CIA. She delivered a letter and it seems the trip went well and she had a pleasant stay. However, on her second trip to Taiwan, things were different and she was apparently tortured with electrodes, perhaps to obtain extra information or even, as Bain suggests, as part of Jensen's tests, in order to obtain real proof that he had created the perfect messenger, who would not reveal secrets even under torture.

The use of electrodes for torture is mentioned in Dr. G.H. Estabrooks groundbreaking book Hypnotism, where he states that 15 volts of current would cause extreme pain, and 20 would be unbearable. However, a good hypnotic subject in deep trance could endure 60 or even 120 volts without much problem.

But Candy was unhappy with her occasional employment for the government and wanted to leave, a difficult thing to do under the circumstances. Jensen had much to fear - not only that Candy might at some time expose the project, but the possibility that Candy had picked up other confidential information along the way which would be harmful to Jensen and those he worked for.

So Jensen planned to have Candy commit suicide. The date and place were set, December 1972, in Nassau, in the Bahamas. It was to be, as far as Candy/Arlene was concerned, another mission. She would receive a call at her hotel in Nassau, and this call would bring Arlene into action. But then, instead of picking up a letter to deliver, she would walk to a steep cliff overlooking the sea, and jump.

Fortunately, it was not to be, Candy's marriage to Nebel on December 31,1972, meant she didn't take the trip to the Bahamas, although it seems this wasn't the end of Jensen's control over her. Indeed, Candy thought she had been followed by the same man since early in 1972, just after she told Jensen she was leaving for good. Bain also thinks it probable that Jensen or the CIA had contacted Candy after her marriage to Nebel. Nebel seems to have believed this, and told Bain that he was going to kill Jensen, but Bain managed to persuade him against it.

A few years after Bain's book was published, in 1978, Long John Nebel died of cancer. In July 1980 there was a gas explosion in Candy's apartment building in New York, in which several residents were injured, Candy among them. She suffered a broken neck and sued the landlord for $20 million and Consolidated Edison for $80 million in punitive damages. On 18th January, 1990, Candy Jones died of cancer, aged 64, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Is this incredible story true? Were Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark Chapman, James Earl Ray, and others indications that other 'doctors' like Jensen were at work in America?

In a recent article (see Sources below) Karl T. Pflock suggests that the whole thing may in fact have been an invention, and that Nebel induced false memories in his wife, and brought them out later to record on tape. Bain's book was based only on these tapes, he says, so it cannot be relied upon. He even questions whether the tapes ever existed at all. Though in the February issue of Fortean Times Bain makes it clear that the tapes were heard on national radio and TV at the time of the publication of his book, and that researcher and author John Marks had spent a day with him listening to them.

Pflock also mentions a conversation author Jim Moseley had with Candy where she told him she couldn't remember anything of these traumatic events. He accepts that Candy could have delivered messages for the FBI and US military intelligences, mentioning that at the time many Americans did so, and may have told Nebel about it. This information, along with contemporary disclosures and rumours about the CIA's ill-fated MK-ULTRA mind-control programme, the disturbing 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, and public concern about the 'Big Brother' style activities of the government, Pflock thinks gave Nebel the idea to invent the whole Candy Jones super spy story for his own profit.

He does suggest, as an alternative, that Nebel, Candy and Bain may have been involved - though possibly not all three intentionally - in a CIA or other intelligence organisation disinformation project to persuade the Soviets, Red Chinese or others that MK-ULTRA and other projects had succeeded, and America did indeed possess super spies who could be controlled at will.

However, there is still the additional evidence of the passport photo of Arlene/Candy, and Bain's interview with Joe Vergara and the letter from William Williams, detailing her worries about disappearing suddenly and her fears for her life. These indicate, at the very least, that the whole thing was not an invention of Nebel, and tend to point towards the general truth of Bain's book.

There is also some precedence for aspects of Candy's case. In his book Poltergeist! (see Sources below) Colin Wilson describes the multiple-personality case of Doris Fischer, investigated in 1910 by Walter Franklin Prince. While Doris was serious and quiet, a second personality (there were others who appeared over the years) called Margaret was lively and mischievous. While Margaret knew everything about Doris, Doris knew nothing about Margaret until she told her, using her own voice. Another young girl, Christine Beauchamp, was being treated by psychiatrist Morton Prince for general depression and fatigue. He tried to hypnotise her but only succeeded in bringing out 'Sally', a physically strong and sometimes malicious personality, almost the opposite of the feeble Christine. When Christine travelled to New York to take a secretarial job, Sally got off the train at New Haven and got a job as a waitress. Again, the main personality Christine, knew nothing of what happened while Sally was in control, but Sally knew everything that went on in Christine's mind. He mentions too that the majority of multiple personality cases begin with a bad shock - with Doris Fischer it was being thrown to the ground at the age of three by a drunken father. Could Candy's double personality have started with a traumatic experience such as her father crushing her fingers in a nutmeg grater?

However it started, did the shadowy 'Jensen' bring out and cruelly exploit this dual personality for the government and his own ends? The evidence seems to suggest that he did.

There were no children of Harry Sayles1 Conover (357692) and Jessica Wilcox (359352).




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