There is very little doubt that without Albert K. Bender there would never have been the phenomenon of the Men in Black. He was the poor, plagued man who, in the early years of the 1950s, was terrorized by the M.I.B., and on more than one occasion, no less. Bender’s Men in Black were most definitely not of the Will Smith-Tommy Lee Jones type, I should stress. Nope. Secret agents, they were not. Rather, Bender’s creepy fedora-wearing visitors were dangerous, pale-faced ghouls who had psychic powers and shining eyes; something that led Bender to eventually quit the field of Ufology. Without a doubt, it was a wise move on his part. Bender just couldn’t fully leave the UFO subject, however: in 1962, Gray Barker (the author of, among others, the Mothman-themed book, The Silver Bridge) published Bender’s book, Flying Saucers and the Three Men.
There’s no denying it’s a truly bizarre book. It’s filled with not just strange and hard to believe tales of UFOs and aliens, but also of the occult, demonology, psychic phenomena and much more of a sinister and supernatural nature. After promoting his book (just like every author should!) Bender quit Ufology, aside from the occasional lecture and radio interview. After that, Bender was eventually out of the Saucer scene. It’s a fact, though, that many – even in the domain of Ufology – didn’t know that Bender had another interest. In many respects that other passion was greater than that of Flying Saucers, as those mysterious things in the sky were known way back then.
Loren Coleman says: “Bender was born on June 16, 1921, and served in the United States Air Force during World War II. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, he was a supervisor at the Acme shear factory. After Bender’s 1962 book was published, and before Bender moved to Los Angeles, in 1965, while in Bridgeport, Bender started the Max Steiner Music Society, which was later renamed the Max Steiner Memorial Society, dedicated to the famed music composer of theater and film hits.” You may very well wonder: who was Max Steiner? He’s hardly known today, but decades ago he was a major figure in the worlds of movies and music, as you’ll now see.
The Songwriters Hall of Fame state of Steiner that in 1929 he became “…General Musical Director for RKO Studios, which resulted in a series of musical scores for such motion pictures as King Kong, Lost Patrol and The Informer. In his journey through the world of Hollywood musicals, Steiner composed a veritable host of memorable scores for Casablanca, Since You Went Away, Tomorrow Is Forever, The Charge of the Light Brigade, Mildred Pierce, Now Voyager, Stolen Life and San Antonio among others. Following his initial Oscar for The Informer he won two others for his scores for Now Voyager in 1943, and for Since You Went Away in 1945. Over the period of his Hollywood career, Max Steiner received 18 Academy Award nominations.”
For further information on Bender’s deep interest in Steiner’s work, see this link, which says in part: “A major figure in the perpetuation of the memory of Max Steiner is Albert K. Bender, founder of the Max Steiner Music Society. Under Bender’s leadership, the MSMS boasted a worldwide following, the publication of a journal and a newsletter, and even a library of audio tapes produced and maintained by James Reising. Even though the society officially ceased operation when the Steiner Collection came to BYU [Brigham Young University] in 1981, Bender has been of invaluable assistance in locating additional materials and in sharing information about his many encounters with Steiner.” Bender finally walked (or, most probably, ran) away from the Men in Black, but he never lost his enthusiasm for the work of Steiner.