“What’s Up, Dr. Ruth?”: In 1989, Dr. Ruth asked UFO experts “Do extra-terrestrials have sex?”

By on December 5, 2018

One of the oddest little episodes in our Dr. Ruth section on Night Flight Plus is the diminutive doctor’s upbeat interview with two UFO experts on her cable TV talk show What’s Up, Dr. Ruth?, which aired during the Lifetime channel’s daytime lineup in 1989-1990.


The German-born therapist chats with Budd Hopkins — generally regarded as the world’s leading authority on the UFO abduction phenomenon, and the author of Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods (Random House, 1987) — and Dr. Brian O’Leary, former astronaut, planetary scientist and author of Exploring Inner and Outer Space: A Scientist’s Perspective on Personal and Planetary Transformation and Reinheriting the Earth (the original title, published by North Atlantic Books in 1989).


Normally on What’s Up, Dr. Ruth? — videotaped at Lifetime’s Astoria Studios — Dr. Ruth dispensed advice to teens to help them overcome to conflicts and questions they encountered during their often intense and confusing adolescence.

This episode, however, was a real departure for Dr. Ruth — who in 1988 had been named America’s favorite “female news maker” by 8th grade-12th grade teens in the national “Heroes of Young America” poll — although she does ask the UFO experts: “Do extra-terrestrials have sex?”


At one point, Hopkins — who is widely credited with having begun the alien-abduction movement, a sub-genre of UFO studies — briefly talks about the “Gulf Breeze Sightings,” as they were known.

On the evening of November 11, 1987, building contractor Ed Walters took several photos of UFOs from his front yard in Gulf Breeze, Florida, near Pensacola Naval Air Station and Eglin Air Force Base.

Walters’s photos provided some of the best photographic evidence at the time that UFOs actually did exist.


One of the “Gulf Breeze Sightings” from November 1987 (photo by Ed Walters)

Dr. O’Leary also discusses the famous 1947 Roswell, New Mexico, UFO sightings and the discovery of alien bodies.

Dr. Ruth asks him if they were “tiny little bodies, my size?,” which provides the audience with a chance to laugh during this mostly serious conversation.


A display at Roswell, New Mexico’s International UFO Museum & Research Center

We especially liked when a ponytailed freak asks the UFO experts about the “personal examinations” frequently mentioned among alien abduction victims and whether some of the alien UFO’s are penis-shaped because of the “sexual repression of our society.”


Read more about UFO experts Budd Hopkins and Dr. Brian O’Leary below.


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Budd Hopkins (b. 1931) was a nationally-known New York Abstract Expressionist, his own work hangs alongside paintings by his friends Willem DeKooning, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and others in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney.

Then, in August of 1964, Hopkins saw a UFO in Truro, on the Cape Code peninsula in Massachusetts.

His investigation led to interviews with others who’d shared similar experiences, including George O’Barski, who claimed to have witnessed nearly a dozen aliens stepping out of a spacecraft and taking soil samples at North Hudson Park in North Bergen, New Jersey.


Hopkins received hundreds of letters from UFO abductees too, and his subsequent interviews with them — many providing details obtained under hypnosis, often sharing details about space aliens being short, bug-eyed, thin-lipped and gray-skinned — made him the first person to collect and publish such stories in quantity.

These interviews led to Hopkins writing about UFOs for national publications and publishing his first book, Missing Time (1981), as well as its 1987 sequel, Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods, which spent four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and was the basis of a 1992 TV movie (starring Richard Crenna as Hopkins).


Hopkins — who also wrote Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge UFO Abductions (1996) and a memoir, Art, Life and UFOs (2009) — became a highly-respected special guest speaker on the UFO lecture circuit, frequently appearing on daytime TV programs as well as shows dedicated to UFO phenomenon, like “Sightings” and the PBS series “Nova.”

Hopkins — who also ran a New York City-based support group for alien abductees — died on August 21, 2011.


Dr. Brian O’Leary (b. 1940) — after graduating from UC Berkeley with a PhD in astronomy in 1967 — was named one of the first eleven NASA astronauts for a manned mission to Mars, which was later canceled.

O’Leary never actually made it in space, and his NASA employment was fairly brief (September 1967-April 1968).


O’Leary worked as an assistant professor of astronomy and research associate at Cornell until until 1971, and then taught at San Francisco State University (1971–1972), the UC Berkeley School of Law (1971–1972), Hampshire College (1972–1975), Princeton University (1976–1981) and California State University, Long Beach (1986–1987).


Around 1987, O’Leary’s perspectives about UFO’s began to change, and after claiming there was “abundant evidence that we are being contacted,” this once-respected professor was pretty much ostracized by fellow scientists.

During the 1970s and ’80s he became involved in U.S. politics, working as energy advisor to presidential candidate Morris Udall.

He also worked with presidential candidates Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich, George McGovern, and Walter Mondale.


In Exploring Inner and Outer Space, Dr. Brian O’Leary — who authored numerous books on astronomy, astronautics and “alternative science” — admitted:

“I began having psychic experiences. I started communicating telepathically. I had the experience of moving out of my body and floating over cities. I healed myself with my mind. I had a near-death experience. I recalled former lives. I felt the presence of other-dimensional intelligence.”


Dr. O’Leary died on July 28, 2011, at his home in Ecuador.

Watch this very special episode of What’s Up, Dr. Ruth? on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.