Jessica Wilcox was born into a humble family on New Year’s Eve of 1925. Her father left them when she was three; her mother was critical and cold to her. The young girl was often left alone for hours in a dark room, and hence, as children are wont to do, she created an imaginary friends with whom to pass the time. With these imaginary friends, Jessica forged strong friendships, chief among them was one named Arlene, who hung around for many years and grew up with Jessica despite being an almost polar opposite of her: Jessica was open and articulate, Arlene was cynical and contemptuous like her mother. Other imaginary friends faded, but Jessica never grew out of Arlene–rather Arlene grew into Jessica, and became a separate personality.
Jessica was 16 when she entered the Miss Atlantic City contest, which led to a job at the Miss America Contest, which in turn was her platform to fame and a new name: Candy Jones.
During World War II, Candy was one of the world’s most popular pin-up girls. She toured with the USO through the South Pacific in 1944 and 45, and in the 60’s she may have unwittingly become a secret agent for the CIA, but Candy didn’t know anything about it. The agent was actually her alter ego, Arlene.
While out with the USO in April of 1945, Candy became very ill, and was taken to a hospital in the Philippines. While there she became friends with a medic whose name has been obscured over time, but is known by the pseudonym of “Gilbert Jensen.”
After the war Candy went home and married, then divorced, opened a modeling school and was getting by pretty well when she was approached by an FBI agent who asked her for her help. It seemed a benign request, and it was only patriotic to help out, and she allowed him to use her office as a secretive government mail drop.
And that was the entire story until 1972 when Candy married John Nebel. The pair had a true whirlwind romance, having known each other only a month before they wed. Despite being a generally congenial disposition, after they married Nebel started noticing Candy displaying huge, sudden mood-swings, the worst of which was when she’d slip into what he described as “the Voice”; in his own words: “The Voice … a look, a few moments of bitchiness.” A few weeks into the marriage Candy told her new groom that she sometimes worked for the FBI, and that she would be prone to vanishing for days on end without notice. Slowly it came out that Candy was also suffering insomnia, and in (what I can only imagine as a desperate) gambit to improve her moods, he offered to hypnotize to in order to help her sleep.
Nebel hadn’t hypnotized anyone before, and Candy was resolute that it couldn’t be done, so of course she went right under. She slept better than she had in years, and they decided to continue the sessions. As the hypnosis continued, Nebel learned that Candy became unusually susceptible to suggestion while under, and more disturbingly, she would spontaneously age-regress, and speak in a child-like voice. Sometimes her own, and sometimes Arlene Grant’s. It was the latter that spooked Nebel into tape-recording the sessions.
He uncovered a plot that had roots in 1945 Philippine hospital, and began in earnest when the FBI had asked for her help. Candy had only a few memories of the things she was asked to do, but Arlene had a grasp of all of them. While her modeling school was doubling as a government mail-drop she was asked to drop off a letter in Oakland, and since she was going there anyhow, why refuse? When she arrived the recipient was the doctor Gilbert Jensen that had befriended her when ill. He offered her a tidy sum of money to allow him to hypnotize her, and she accepted since she was divorced and strapped for dough. He told her the hypnosis didn’t work, but in sessions where the Arlene personality spoke, she said it had.
Jensen asked Candy to be a messenger for the CIA, and that her post was to be so secret that not even headquarters would know about her. In order to serve she needed to be in top health, and thus submitted to regular injections of vitamins. These were, of course, not vitamins, but a chemical agent designed to bring out the Arlene persona. When she assumed the Arlene identity she would alter her dress, her walk, her tone, and even took to wearing a dark wig. Arlene was supposedly sent to training camps where she was trained to kill with her bare hands, or, if handy, a hat pin. She was trained with poison lipstick, hiding code numbers under the paint of her fingernails, and other things that would make Mr Bond’s nipples hard. She would be asked to run government drops on her normal business trips, and it would be an ideal situation for the government if Candy had no recollection of performing these tasks.
And of course, the CIA knows nothing of it because they’re an intelligence agency.
But was any of it real, or was it False Memory Syndrome brought about by a truly disturbed woman and an inept therapist? There are some hints that point to the credibility of her story.
In the 60’s Candy told her editors that she sometimes worked for the FBI. Candy wrote a letter to her attorney instructing him that if she were to die or vanish that he wasn’t at liberty to reveal the details of the event to anyone. In 1974 the Rockefeller Commission exposed CIA’s MKULTRA Program–a mind-control program that was going on in the 1950’s. There were several absences from her school, or business trips where there was no business to do. And when Donald Bain was talking to her about publishing a book on the story of her life she produced a passport she’d found in the name of Arlene Grant bearing a photo of her in a dark wig.
On 3 July 1973 the answering machine at Arlene’s house received a message that said: “This is Japan Airlines calling on oh-three July at 4.10 p.m. … Please have Miss Grant call 759-9100 … she is holding a reservation on Japan Airlines Flight 5, for the sixth of July, Kennedy to Tokyo, with an option on to Taipai. This is per Cynthia that we are calling.” Upon a callback to Japan Airlines, there was no Cynthia working there.
None of it is proof. Nor is the fact in July 1980 Candy was nearly killed in an explosion. Just hints, innuendo, ticklers of possibility.
On the other hand, is even the CIA dumb enough to try to make a 6’4″ supermodel of the era into a secret agent? And worse, if they figured out a way to rewire the brains of pretty girls, don’t you think that Washington DC would be the global hotbed of sexy women?