Growing up the daughter of renowned ghost hunter Hans Holzer was always interesting. However, one of the most vivid memories with my father occurred when I was eight years old. I came home from school, fixed a snack, and settled in to watch my favorite show, Scooby-Doo. My father was in his office, feverishly typing out his next bestseller on his powder-blue Smith Corona.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what appeared to be a woman in a white gown glide into father’s office. Moments later it was in the hallway leading toward the bedroom.
I ran into my father’s office. He calmed me, replying, “Shura, it was most likely the next door neighbor, Mrs. Lerner, who recently passed alone without any family. She was probably looking for a cup of sugar.”
That night was a restless one for me. I awoke in the dark feeling like someone was watching me. I tried to go back to sleep but my eyes kept popping open. Suddenly my legs felt as if someone sat down on them. I wanted to call out or run away but it was as if I was paralyzed. The ghostly feeling moved up my body and landed on my head, like someone was patting my hair. At that I was able to jump out of bed and ran straight to my father, who was still typing away at 2:00 am. He just smiled, saying “It is normal. Go back to bed, it’s a school night.”
My father considered ghosts normal because he had studied them most of his life. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1920, my father developed an interest in the supernatural through his Uncle Henry’s stories about ghosts and fairies. For him it was the beginning of what would become his calling. After earning a Master’s Degree in comparative religion at Columbia and a doctorate in Parapsychology at the London College of Applied Science, he continued his quest for learning. He mastered other languages, wrote off-Broadway plays, and became a vegan, which was unusual at the time.
As an academic and parapsychologist, he took his calling extremely seriously. Three “dirty words” in his vocabulary were: belief, disbelief, and supernatural. “Belief is the uncritical acceptance of something you can’t prove,” he explained. “I work on evidence.” He was firm in his belief in ghosts, or people who do not realize that they are dead and are therefore “confused as to their real status.” Spirits were intelligent beings who could interact with the living; while “stay behinds” were those who found themselves earth-bound after death. According to him, these imprints left in the environment could be “picked up” by sensitive people, such as myself.
My father was comfortable in all worlds he explored. His unique expertise enabled him to appear on more than 250 hundred television and radio programs. He even hosted his own show, “Ghost Hunter.” He was pleased with new crop of television shows, movies, and websites, writing, “As a purveyor of genuine information regarding psychic phenomena, I welcome this resurgence of curiosity in worlds beyond the physical because contemplating these matters tends to make people think about themselves, their ultimate fate, and the nature of humankind itself.”
However, in understanding the spiritual world, he felt that there were three classes of people. He wrote, “There are those who ridicule the idea of anything beyond the grave. This category includes anybody from hard-line scientists to people who are only comfortable with the familiar, material world and really do not wish to examine any evidence that might change their minds. The will to disbelieve is far stronger than the will to believe—though neither leads to proof and hard evidence.
“Then there are those who have already accepted the evidence of a continued existence beyond physical death, including people who have arrived at this conclusion through an examination of hard evidence, either personal in nature or from scientifically valid sources. They are the group I respect the most, because they are not blind believers. They rightfully question the evidence, but they have no problem accepting it when it is valid. Included in this group are the religious-metaphysical folks, although they require no hard proof to validate their convictions, which emanate from a belief system that involves a world beyond this one.
“The third group is often thrown offtrack when trying to get at the truth by the folks in the metaphysical camp. This makes it more difficult for them to arrive at a proper conviction regarding the psychic. The thing for this third group is to stick to its principles and not become blind believers.
“The vast majority of people belong to the third group. They are aware of the existence of psychical phenomena and the evidence for such phenomena, including case histories and scientific investigations by open-minded individuals. But they may be skeptical. They hesitate to join the second group only because of their own inner resistance to such fundamental changes in their philosophical attitudes toward life and death. For them, therefore, the need to be specific when presenting evidence or case histories, which must be fully verifiable, is paramount, as is an acceptable explanation for their occurrence.
It is hoped that those in the second group will embrace the position of the last group: that there are no boundaries around possibilities, provided that the evidence bears it out.”
Born in Vienna, Austria in 1920, my father developed an interest in the supernatural when his uncle Henry told him stories about ghosts and fairies. For him it was the beginning of what would be his destiny and chosen path for his life span.
Just 40 plus years earlier, some researchers were on the way to forming this path father would soon travel upon. He studied such languages as Japanese at Columbia University, earning a Master’s Degree in comparative religion and a doctorate in Parapsychology at the London College of Applied Science which is no longer standing. He studied his predecessors before him doing early psychical research as the word parapsychology was born around 1889 by a philosopher named Max Dessoir. J.B. Rhine in the 1930s made it known as psychical research. Parapsychologists utilize many approaches for the study of apparent paranormal phenomena. Father ran the gamut of his physical research who unlike many of his predecessors and those few after him… studied most paranormal phenomena.
According to the Parapsychological Association, parapsychologists do not nor are they concerned with astrology, UFOs, Bigfoot, paganism, vampires, alchemy, or witchcraft. Father was, which makes him a very unique, highly-intelligent character to be born into our world. For that reason and reason alone, he was a bit of everything to the world when it came to the supernatural. Sadly, he is more remembered for the Amityville Horror case then his bountiful case work at hand dealing with thousands of stories with the wide range of topics.
His veganism spoke loudly to all and his passion to convert others into understanding why that lifestyle choice… was insurmountable and unrelenting. It took me a long time to grasp that natural concept and apply it into my daily life. As an academic parapsychologist, he took his calling extremely seriously. Hence where I think his jokes were a bit dry but he insisted he was indeed funny. Three “dirty words” in his vocabulary were: belief, disbelief and supernatural. “Belief is the uncritical acceptance of something you can’t prove,” he explained. “I work on evidence.” He therefore dismissed the existence of angels and regarded the world’s religions as corporations that make large profits out of scaring the “hell” out of their followers.
Moving on towards his inner creative-self, his love for the theater led him to become the New York Drama Critic for the London Times in the 1950s. He subsequently became a member of ASCAP, SAG, AFTRA and the Authors Guild. Who else out there could have such a resume and still be so in-touch with our universal codes and purpose?
Father was comfortable in all worlds he explored, having appeared on over 250 hundred national, local as well as foreign television and radio programs. He was a regular on television talk shows and even hosted his own show, Ghost Hunter. He has been credited with creating the term “The Other Side” (already in use, however, in nineteenth century spiritualism) or in full “The Other Side of Life.”
He is also sometimes credited with having coined the term “ghost hunter,” which was the title of his first book on the paranormal, published in 1963. I hope many reading this will now comprehend who came first, the chicken or the egg controversy. However, it would be made of soy and tofu.
In 1966, after airing a television special, “Eye on New York,” which featured father, CBS TV affectionately became known as “CBSeance.”
The Holzer Method lives on and the ride has taken off. Keep your hands and feet to the side and do not touch anything you do not recognize. It can get ugly out there but remember and ask yourself, “What is real and what is not real? Because a lot of it is not real. A lot of it is questionable. And we’ve got to somehow try to separate those things.”