Dec 15, 2021 I Brent Swancer

The Strange Story of Candy Jones, the Mind-Controlled Model

One area of secret government projects that has lurked in the shadows for some time is that of various mind-control projects. It has long been an aim of the military and government agencies to perfect a way in which they can influence people to do their bidding, and there have been various alleged projects like this kept under wraps throughout the years. There is very little information that has been released that hints at how far along any of these operations ever came, but there have certainly been stories. One of these is a case in which a famous model and pin-up girl became embroiled in a purported mind-control project to make her into a sleeper agent to be turned on at any moment to do their bidding. And so we go down a rabbit hole into the dark world of top-secret government mind-control ops and espionage involving one of the most famous fashion models, writers, and radio talk show hostesses of her time.

Born in 1925 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania as Jessica Arline Wilcox, the woman who would come to be known as Candy Jones had a bit of a rough time growing up. Although she was born into a wealthy family, her father abandoned them when she was three, and she long suffered from physical abuse from him. Her mother would also abuse her, often locking her in cramped dark rooms as punishment, and she was often passed off to live with various relatives, never really having a constant, stable home, and to cope with the loneliness she developed relationships with imaginary friends. As she grew up she became known for her beauty and tall, statuesque physique, and so as a young woman she would pursue a career as a fashion model and things would start to look up for her.

She found near immediate success in this endeavor, placing as a runner up for Miss New Jersey in the Miss America contest, and from there she got a job as a hostess at the main Miss America contest, catapulting her to fame. Before long, she changed her name to Candy Jones and became a much in-demand pin-up model, appearing on numerous magazine covers and turning into one of the most popular pin-up girls during World War II. Indeed, throughout the 1940s she was one of the most popular fashion models around, often touring with the United Service Organizations (USO) in the South Pacific to perform special fashion shows for the troops, who were always enthusiastically happy to see her. Her trajectory and clout within the fashion world would rise when in 1946 she married the fashion czar Harry Conover, one of the first model agents and widely regarded as the originator of the whole 'cover girl' concept. Although they would have three children together, the marriage would prove to be unhappy and go sour, the two divorcing in 1959 and paving the way for the next, very strange chapter in her life.

445px Candy Jones 2
Candy Jones (credit: Public Domain)

After her divorce, Jones kept busy, establishing a modeling school and writing several books on modeling and fashion, as well as becoming a radio personality, appearing regularly on NBC's weekend radio news program Monitor. As all of this was going on, some odd things began going on in the background, with some of the strangeness that was to come seeping in. It started when a retired army general she knew from her days in the South Pacific one day came into her modeling agency out of the blue and asked Jones if she would allow the FBI to use her office as a mail drop location, and if she would serve as a courier for them. It seemed to be sort of a strange request, but feeling that it would be a patriotic thing to do, she agreed, delivering mail for the FBI when she went away on business trips and not really thinking anything of it at the time. Not long after this visit by the FBI, she would deliver a letter to a Dr. Gilbert Jenson, who she knew from back during the war because he had helped cure her of a serious illness while she was touring the South Pacific, and at the time she would have no idea that this was all linked to a sinister plot.

Life went on for Jones, and on December 31, 1972, she married radio host Long John Nebel after a mere one-month courtship. She went on to become a regular guest on Nebel’s late-night radio talk show, which typically discussed the topics of conspiracy theories, UFOs, ghosts, and various other paranormal phenomena. In the meantime, Nebel began to notice that his wife would often have episodes of very strange behavior. The normally calm, easy-going, and pleasant Jones would have occasional mood swings at times, suddenly and without warning taking up a harsh, confrontational demeanor and speaking in a low aggressive voice. These odd episodes would come and go quickly, and Nebel would call them “The Voice ... a look, a few moments of bitchiness.” Jones herself did not seem to be aware of the incidents at all, with no memory of what she had done or said, and so Nebel began to expect that something rather strange was going on. He knew that she had at one point worked for the FBI delivering mail, and that she had made several trips for them that she had always been vague about, as if she couldn't quite recall, and so he began to wonder if there was perhaps something sinister going on in her mind. He decided to try hypnotizing Jones to see what he could find out, and in the process open up a rabbit hole that would meander down into a dark world of hypnosis, conspiracies, and mind control.

With Jones under hypnosis, it did not take long at all for Nebel to find another personality lurking there within the dark recesses of her mind, one named Arlene, who just happened to have been Jones’ best imaginary friend as a child. Arlene was blunt, aggressive, and spoke in low severe tones, sometimes not much above a snarl, which Nebel was already familiar with because he now recognized this as the personality that was coming through during his wife’s bouts of strange behavior. As the sessions went on, Arlene would turn out to have a part to play in the various memories that Nebel was able to dredge up on Jones’ past, ones which she did not consciously remember but which painted a very sinister picture indeed. It would turn out that the mysterious Dr. Jensen had invited her to take part in delivery missions for the CIA in return for a large amount of money. Jones had agreed and the next chapter of the strange story would unfold.

Jones was instructed to get a passport under an alias and told that she would be traveling abroad frequently for her covert missions. She would also be injected with what he called “vitamins,” claimed to be for keeping her in optimal physical and mental health. After this she would take up a disguise and travel about making mysterious deliveries, but there was a sinister twist to all of this. In reality, Jensen was allegedly a part of a secret CIA mind control program with the purpose of making spies and assassins that could be “turned on” and carry out work without having any memory of what they had done. In the case of Jones, she had been chosen because he had discovered during a hypnosis session the hidden personality “Arlene,” which also happened to be the name Jones had chosen as her alias. Jensen had then groomed Arlene to be a separate entity that could be activated to take over and independently carry out missions without Jones’ knowledge, with rigorous hypnosis and mind control chemicals, the “vitamins,” helping with the process. Arlene was then brought to various secret CIA camps to be trained.

The personality Arlene was supposedly trained in the use of espionage, hand to hand combat, explosives, weapons, and assassination methods, as well as how to resist pain and deal with interrogation techniques. Jones herself would remember none of this, as she had been programmed to “turn off” whenever Arlene was activated to take charge. When she was ready, Arlene would be activated to go about on various mysterious missions, wearing a disguise and equipped with various gadgets including a poison lipstick with which she could kill herself if need be. Arlene apparently carried out all sorts of experimental missions for the CIA, and all through this Jones had no idea her alter ego existed, with her only remembering that she occasionally delivered mail for the agency as a courier. If this was all true, then the CIA had actually managed to create the perfect sleeper agent that could be activated and deactivated at will, and would leave behind the oblivious Jones for plausible deniability, her mind a blank about it all.

Nebel would record hundreds of hours of these hypnosis sessions as evidence of what was going on, and in 1976 it all got out into the open when author Donald Bain wrote all about it in his book The Control of Candy Jones. The following year, it got even more interesting when the public was made aware that the CIA had indeed been experimenting with mind control in a program called Project MKUltra, which was directed by the Office of Scientific Intelligence of the CIA in coordination with the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories. Nevertheless, there was a lot of skepticism aimed at Nebel’s bizarre claims, especially since he was sometimes known to be prankster and a hoaxer, so considering this and the fact that the only real evidence were those recordings of Jones’ hypnosis sessions, it was thought that this was all just an elaborate hoax being perpetrated. However, Bain claimed to have much evidence that backed up Nebel’s claims.

Bain was able to find that her modeling work reported that she did indeed often disappear on unscheduled trips for no apparent reason and which she would not talk about upon getting back. There was also a passport found in her possession made out for an “Arlene Grant” that showed her in dark makeup and a black wig that Jones had no memory of ever taking, as well as a letter written to her attorney, William Williams, to cover herself in case she died or disappeared suddenly or under unusual circumstances. While this may not be evidence that she was a mind-controlled superspy puppet, it certainly seems to suggest that she was at the very least involved in some covert activities of some nature that she was not at liberty to discuss. Whatever the case may be, she would die of cancer at the age of 64 as she was living in Manhattan, New York, taking any dark secrets to her grave with her.

There has been a lot of debate and discussion as to the veracity of all of this, as well as plenty of skepticism of Nebel's wild claims, but both he and Jones always insisted it was all true and never deviated from their story. We are left to wonder just how much of this is real, and whether the U.S. government really did manage to make this high profile model into a mind-controlled super spy. If they did, then how many others like her would be out there, unaware that they are just tools waiting to be activated to act against their will with no memory of what they have done? Did the government ever get this far along in its mind-control projects? There are no concrete answers, and the case of Candy Jones remains a compelling mystery.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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