Origin of iconic alien face?

Domzh

Active Member
Does anyone know when and where the classic alien face appeared for the first time?

I googled quite a bit and was puzzled that i couldnt really find information about it.

Steven Spielbergs "Close encounters of the third kind" imagined them like this and surely had a massive influence on how people think they look until today.

I am not sure if this was the first time this version of aliens appeared though.

Im interested to learn if these optics originate from "experiencers" and then were picked up by media or if some artist came up with it for some media production and all the experiencers then ran with it.

IMG_5825.jpeg
 
The Betty and Barney Hill case was the earliest I've seen to describe something like the classic UFO alien from a claimed UFO encounter.

Hypnosis sketch by Barney:
Barney_Hill_hypnosis_sketch_Feb_22,_1962_-_cropped_downrezed.png
The Hills' descriptions were not spot-on perfect for the "consensus UFO alien" we have now, but were pretty close. Their experience happend in 1961, drawing and descriptions came afterward

Sci-fi examples that contribute to the consensus alien go back further. Famously, there was an Outer Limits episode featuring this guy
Bellero.png
that was broadcast a few weeks before the Hills' incident.

The alien from This Island Earth (1955) had a lot of features incorporated into the consensus model, but was sort of tall.
thisislandearth3.jpg

Invasion of the Suacer Men (57) was getting a bit closer:
Invasion_of_the_Saucer_Men.jpg
Just needs to lose the ears and turn grey instead of green.

British film "First Men in the Moon" (1919) may have scooped them all!
The_First_Men_in_the_Moon_(1919).jpg
 
Aleister Crowley drew "Lam" in 1919:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Supposed_channeled_entity_by_occultist_crowley.jpg

The same year that First Man On the Moon was released:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_Men_in_the_Moon_(1919_film)

Which is based on a HG Wells 1901 book:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_First_Men_in_the_Moon

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_First_Men_in_the_Moon

https://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/52501/pg52501-images.html

But Wells doesn't IIRC ever describe them as "Gray aliens" we detail today.

From the 1919 film:

https://www.alamy.com/a-scene-from-...845bc785175e7fad967688f2b8f22ecc&searchtype=0

But that doesn't match, and in the book it's described, if memory serves, as a helmet/headdress. The earliest reference to the film is June 1919.

Crowleys Lam image was published, again, in 1919 as well, in "Equinox Vol III, No 1", also called "Blue Equinox":

https://dannycarey.com/30032-2/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blue_Equinox

Here's a PDF of the volume:

https://hermetic.com/crowley/equinox/iii/i/index

Published March 1919 -- "MARCH MCMXIX E.V."

The original volume illustration:

https://hermetic.com/_media/crowley/equinox/iii/i/lam.jpg

I can find no intersection online of Aleister Crowley with any of the named people in the film production.

Since the Equinox volume was released in March 1919, some months before the film was noted in history, and both have a long lead time, and there is no clear intersection of Wells story and "gray" aliens, I think that's an unrelated quirk.

I'd heard Crowley was the known modern originator of the "gray" alien visage, but never bothered to look before. That seems accurate so far.
 
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Claude Shepperson illustration for the 1901 "The First Men in the Moon" by HG Wells. NOT modern gray aliens, but they look pretty clearly to be in the ancestry of the modern consensus alien. Little creatures, big ol' giant heads (or helmets?), spindly arms and legs...

The_First_Men_In_The_Moon_by_Claude_Shepperson_11.jpg
 
I'd heard Crowley was the known modern originator of the "gray" alien visage, but never bothered to look before. That seems accurate so far.
Was Crowley describing an alien, though? I'm only very tangentially aware of him, but my understanding was that his sketch was of a spiritual entity of some sort. Of course, with some UFO believers switching from aliens to interdimensionals, demons, etc., I guess that could hold up. :)
 
"First Men in the Moon", could this be described as an influential / famous / known book?

Same question for the movie "the island earth"?
 
"First Men in the Moon", could this be described as an influential / famous / known book?

Same question for the movie "the island earth"?

The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells was a best seller on both sides of the Atlantic, and elsewhere. It influenced a wide range of science fiction output in the century that followed, especially the depiction of large-brained, vaguely humanoid aliens. It has been filmed four times.

The movie This Island Earth was also very popular in the 1950s, (described as the best science fiction movie of 1955 for example) and has become a cult film since. I personally have seen it more times than I can count.
 
Originally posted in this thread,
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/cl...re-causing-close-encounter-experiences.12949/
(in which there's material from other posters relevant to this thread),

I mentioned The Mekon, AKA the Mekon of Mekonta, evil leader of the Treens of Venus' northern hemisphere,
who first appeared in The Eagle comic from issue 30 (November 1950) in the serial strip "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mekon
and resurrected several times since (notably in cult British comic 2000 AD in 1977)

The Mekon!.jpg

-Probably not well-known in the USA, but reasonably well-known in Britain, to the extent that Dominic Cummings, chief adviser to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019 and 2020 was nicknamed "The Mekon" (and there's a punk band who've been going for decades called The Mekons)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mekon

There's also some relevant posts in this thread
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/stereotypical-alien-grey-due-to-alien-sightings-or-not.6918/

balok.JPG
This is Balok, an alien (turns out he's a fake alien) in early Star Trek episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" (Nov. 1966).
This still (or something very similar) is used in the end credits for many Star Trek episodes, so he will have been seen by many more people than just the audience for "his" episode.

I suspect that the "Grey" appearance is rooted in exposure to popular culture.
 
Communion is likely the source of the finalized 'canonical' grey alien that we see in so much fiction today.
I'm sure it's had an influence (alien on cover of Whitley Streiber's Communion, 1987).
In the link supplied by mp2146, there's a bit of info on the design of the picture.

81f579904ee179aa1a7e9e9dce531efb--aliens-and-ufos-ancient-aliens.jpg


To me (and of course it's entirely subjective), the Close Encounters of the Third Kind chap is closest to what I think of when Greys are mentioned- he predates Communion by 10 years.

So, the year after this guy appeared in Spielberg's CEO3K (1977):1683390988044.png

(Alien thinks:
"What am I like? First contact with a new species, centuries in the planning- and I forget to put my dentures in...")
 
Related question that does not really deserve a new thread so I'll tag it on here:

At what point did the meme "Little Green Men" change colors to "Grays?" (There is some holdover, note Domzh's image of a gray in the opening post is decidedly green!)
 
Not used in the context of aliens, but depictions of macrocephaly in ancient Egypt, particularly during the Amarna period, have a similar look to the modern depiction of "greys". Crowley was also quite into Egyptology so possibly an inspiration for his Lam.

1694657554050.png1694657584028.png1694657615688.png1694657656354.png1694657751974.png1694657777615.png1694657984602.png

https://egypt-museum.com/head-of-princess-from-tell-el-amarna/
https://www.akg-images.com/archive/-2UMDHUV328GA.html
http://sceptic-ratio.narod.ru/rep/kn23.htm
Did the Egyptians practice the head-binding of infants, or is this just an artistic style?
 
Did the Egyptians practice the head-binding of infants, or is this just an artistic style?
Or an homage to a natural genetic macrocephaly?

It has also been considered possible that the practice of cranial deformation originates from an attempt to emulate those groups of the population in which elongated head shape was a natural condition. The skulls of some Ancient Egyptians are among those identified as often being elongated naturally and macrocephaly may be a familial characteristic.
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-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_cranial_deformation

However, this passage has no references. And what it was based on might not explain those busts - it may itself have been a deduction based on seeing those busts.
 
depictions of macrocephaly in ancient Egypt, particularly during the Amarna period, have a similar look to the modern depiction of "greys".
Did the Egyptians practice the head-binding of infants, or is this just an artistic style?
Or an homage to a natural genetic macrocephaly?

I don't think anyone really knows. The Amarna period was mainly during the reign of Akhenaten, an extraordinary man
(for instance, possibly the first historical personage to mandate monotheism).
Unlike the traditional images of pharaohs (as strong-looking rather idealized youngish men) Akhenaten was often depicted with a long, very narrow face, perhaps an elongated (but not broad) head, very full lips, visible breasts, a pot-belly and rounded thighs/ buttocks despite an otherwise slender frame.

88cc9a7a02e75567a567fd3144864239--sun-rays-aten.jpgakhenaten.jpgLa_salle_dAkhenaton_(1356-1340_av_J.C.)_(Musée_du_Caire)_(2076972086).jpg

Egyptologists debate whether these depictions are accurate- possibly due to chromosomal issues or other health reasons- or if maybe Akhenaten wanted to be depicted with some female attributes as perhaps a "father and mother to the nation" sort of thing. Akhenaten's radical ideas, capital at Amarna, and probably most of his images didn't outlive him for very long; it seems he was renounced a few years after his death and much of his legacy destroyed.

...Akhenaten's portrayals are unconventional and "unflattering" with a sagging stomach; broad hips; thin legs; thick thighs; large, "almost feminine breasts;" a thin, "exaggeratedly long face;" and thick lips.
Based on Akhenaten's and his family's unusual artistic representations, including potential depictions of gynecomastia and androgyny, some have argued that the pharaoh and his family have either had aromatase excess syndrome and sagittal craniosynostosis syndrome, or Antley–Bixler syndrome
Content from External Source
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akhenaten
However, many Egyptologists think Akhenaten's unusual appearance is symbolic.
(No-one seems to consider that he might have been broadly healthy but with strikingly unusual features).

This is a sculpture of a daughter of Akhenaten (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarna_art)
In the last picture posted by MonkeeSage, the two juveniles are also Akhenaten's daughters- maybe this sculpture is one of them.

800px-Head_of_a_daughter_of_Akhenaten._18th_Dynasty,_c._1345_BC._State_Museum_of_Egyptian_Art,...jpg


As MonkeeSage's post shows, Amarna period art appears quite naturalistic, more so than earlier (or most later) Egyptian art,
so it seems likely that many depictions of people did reflect what they looked like.

This bust is of Nefertiti (c. 1351 - 1334 BC), Akhenaten's chief wife (and possible co-regent, maybe pharaoh post-Akhenaten, though much disputed). The sculpture is believed to be contemporaneous.
Nofretete_Neues_Museum.jpg I think this demonstrates that sculptors of the time could create naturalistic (and presumably realistic) works, even of (and for) the Royal Family, so the depictions of Akhenaten's daughters might be accurate, that is, there was no decree or writ that the royals had to be depicted in a stylised way (except maybe for Akhenaten himself).

I'm not sure if many people are familiar with the Amarna depictions, though (Nefertiti is quite well-known, but has a "conventional" appearance). I don't think it permeates our popular culture enough to influence the reported appearance of Grey aliens.
 
The earliest sci fi writing describes anything that I think is grey alien like, is The Man of the Year Million in 1893 by HG wells.

He describes people of the future with giant brains and so their heads are really large.

The next, and most shocking appearance is from Alister Crowley's picture of the demon Lam in the 1920s, who he describes as otherworldly wise, and able to see beyond our realm, giving him his deep set large eyes and extended cranium:

Supposed_channeled_entity_by_occultist_crowley.jpg
Maybe he was inspired by HG wells rational take about super intelligent people having giant heads (however there is no evidence of hg wells and Crowley hanging out together or ever being an inspiration to Crowley that Ive ever found).

The interesting thing is that the grey alien really doesn't make much more of an appearance until the late 1950s & early 60s, 30 years later.

Flatwoods Monster, Hopkinsville Goblins, and the most popular version, the Barny & Betty Hill abduction
 
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Ah, I'd briefly forgotten my trip to Tsar Peter I's Kunstkamera, where I snapped some photos. Not sure where they are now, but the g/f captured a few on her potato too:

The odd thing about the origins of the museum was that it was specifically set up in order to dispel superstitions, not reinforce them:

A major component of the original collection was a large assortment of human and animal fetuses with various birth defects, many of which Peter had acquired in 1697 from Frederick Ruysch and Levinus Vincent. Peter encouraged research into deformities, particularly in order to debunk superstitious fear of monsters. In particular, he issued a ukase ordering malformed stillborn infants to be sent from anywhere in Russia to the imperial collection. He subsequently had them put on show in the Kunstkamera as examples of accidents of nature.[1]
Content from External Source
-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kunstkamera
 
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It seems to me that TV and movies had a large hand in shaping the current appearance of what we consider Aliens to look like. The rise of TV being key. As more and more homes across the world had a TV in their living rooms they started seeing the same images. Before that there was a WIDE variety to the forms and shapes of ufonauts being reported. Here is a favorite graphic of mine that Joe Nickell put together.

I guess too much TV watching destroys imagination? :)
 

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The earliest sci fi writing describes anything that I think is grey alien like, is The Man of the Year Million in 1893 by HG wells.

He describes people of the future with giant brains and so their heads are really large.

The next, and most shocking appearance is from Alister Crowley's picture of the demon Lam in the 1920s, who he describes as otherworldly wise, and able to see beyond our realm, giving him his deep set large eyes and extended cranium:

Not being lazy, but I'll just hop onboard with you by reposting what I said in another thread about aliens being time-traveling future humans. In that thread we looked at a book by Dr. Micheal Masters that postulated that the classic "Grey" alien was an evolved future human. So, he was trying to explain sightings as if they were all real occurances and not the result of cultural evolution as you have suggested.

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/cl...re-causing-close-encounter-experiences.12949/

I wrote in post #16:


Where to start. Leaving the time-travel to others, I'll agree with notion that Dr. Masters is trying to find solutions for problems that may not exist, at least not physically. The Greys for example may not need to be explained with evolution and the future, if they are more likely a cultural phenomenon.

Dr. Masters also draws on his expertise in biological anthropology to support his hypothesis. He argues that if humans were to continue to evolve over thousands or millions of years, they would likely develop physical features that resemble the classic "grey alien" archetype commonly associated with UFO sightings.

The standard Grey:


Grey aliens
Content from External Source

, also referred to as Zeta Reticulans, Roswell Greys, or Grays, are purported extraterrestrial beings. They are frequent subjects of close encounters and alien abduction claims. The details of such claims vary widely, but typically Greys are described as being human-like with small bodies with smooth, grey-colored skin; enlarged, hairless heads; and large, black eyes.
Content from External Source
Early grey-like creatures appear in literature from the late 19th century by Folingsby:

In 1891, the novel Meda: A Tale of the Future was published by Kenneth Folingsby, in which the narrator encountered small, grey-skinned aliens with balloon-shaped heads.
Content from External Source
And Wells:

In 1893, H. G. Wells presented a description of humanity's future appearance in the article The Man of the Year Million, describing humans as having no mouths, noses, or hair, and with large heads. In 1895, Wells also depicted the Eloi, a successor species to humanity, in similar terms in the novel The Time Machine.[7]
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Note in both cases it's either directly said or indirectly implied is that these are what future humans would look like. That humans could evolve into smallish beings with large heads is hardly a new concept.

Into the 20th century Aleister Crowley was contacting a grey-like entity:

As early as 1917, the occultist Aleister Crowley described a meeting with a "preternatural entity" named Lam that was similar in appearance to a modern Grey.
Content from External Source


There was also a young readers novel from the '30s with similar creatures:

In 1933, the Swedish novelist Gustav Sandgren, using the pen name Gabriel Linde, published a science fiction novel called Den okända faran (The Unknown Danger), in which he describes a race of extraterrestrials who wore clothes made of soft grey fabric and were short, with big bald heads, and large, dark, gleaming eyes.
Content from External Source
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_alien

So, prior to the start of the UFO age in the late '40s, there was a number of literary occurrences of creatures very similar to Greys. And these are from stories, aside possibly from Crowley, these descriptions do not come from contacts.

The Greys go from marginal literary characters to the mainstream with the publication of The Interrupted Journy in 1966 which recounted the Betty and Barny Hill abduction case from 1961. The first famous case of it's type.

Betty had various descriptions of her captors from a series of dreams she had and hypnotic regression sessions, that included the grey color:

They appeared nearly human, with black hair, dark eyes, prominent noses and bluish lips. Their skin was a greyish colour
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In 1990 it was noted that Barny's description and sketch was very similar to an entity from a TV show:

In part, Kottmeyer wrote:[45]

Wraparound eyes are an extreme rarity in science fiction films. I know of only one instance. They appeared on the alien of an episode of an old TV series The Outer Limits titled "The Bellero Shield." A person familiar with Barney's sketch in The Interrupted Journey and the sketch done in collaboration with the artist David Baker will find a "frisson" of "déjà vu" creeping up his spine when seeing this episode. The resemblance is much abetted by an absence of ears, hair, and nose on both aliens. Could it be by chance? Consider this: Barney first described and drew the wraparound eyes during the hypnosis session dated 22 February 1964. "The Bellero Shield" was first broadcast on 10 February 1964. Only twelve days separate the two instances. If the identification is admitted, the commonness of wraparound eyes in the abduction literature falls to cultural forces.
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Barny's collaborative sketch and the character from the TV show:



Interesting also is what the TV character says:

The episode featured an extraterrestrial with large eyes who says, "In all the universes, in all the unities beyond the universes, all who have eyes have eyes that speak."
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Compare that line to some of Barny's regression memories:

Under hypnosis, Barney said things like, "Oh, those eyes. They're there in my brain" (from his first hypnosis session) and "I was told to close my eyes because I saw two eyes coming close to mine, and I felt like the eyes had pushed into my eyes" (from his second hypnosis session) and "All I see are these eyes…. I'm not even afraid that they're not connected to a body. They're just there. They're just up close to me, pressing against my eyes."[25]
Content from External Source
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barney_and_Betty_Hill_incident

I'll note that IIRC, in season 1 of the podcast Strange Arrivals which covers the Hill case, host Toby Ball plays some of the actual recordings of Barny under hypnosis, including the above quote. It's compelling. He's clearly experiencing something intense during the sessions.

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-strange-arrivals-59865365/

Also interesting is that it appears Greys may be largely and American thing:

1683145935006.png
https://www.google.com/books/editio...BAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA135&printsec=frontcover

If the Greys are evolved future humans, are they only evolved future Americans? Or do other evolved future humans appear different in other places?

Or is there simply no need to invoke time travel to explain a cultural phenomenon.
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Leonardo DaVinci has everyone beat. (His Mona Lisa painting also has a hidden grey alien.)Screenshot_20230915_113300_Google.jpg

Are we sure about that. Here are a few of the images I can find of the painting and I'm not seeing what's being reflected to create the alien:

1694796169024.png

1694796239231.png

1694796279552.png

1694796335130.png

1694796407242.png

I'll keep looking, but maybe a bit of manipulation going on?
 
Are we sure about that. Here are a few of the images I can find of the painting and I'm not seeing what's being reflected to create the alien:

1694796169024.png

1694796239231.png

1694796279552.png

1694796335130.png

1694796407242.png

I'll keep looking, but maybe a bit of manipulation going on?

Here you go, I did the work for you.

Fast forward to 1:30 in the video.

VIDEO
 
Intriguing that the clichéd "Little Green Men" are absent other than the novelty art conception at the end...
Actually "Little Green Men" are shown first in Nickell's time line graphic, circa 1947. I think the first mention of "little green men" came out of the Kelly/Hopkinsville incident in 1955, however. Kelly annually holds the "Little Green Men Days" festival in recognition of that event.

11890622-1032274173449515-2988238376730241119-o_orig.jpgimg-5158_orig.jpg
 
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Here you go, I did the work for you.
"Enhancement process". :)

I remember when we were kids we used to run a mirror across photos to find strange faces and figures, usually rude ones. Almost EVERY photo or drawing can be reinterpreted to find a completely spurious image that way.
 
This is one of those things where a definitive answer is probably impossible, although this behind-the-scenes image from Close Encounters is uncanny, because in the film you don't get a great view of the aliens:
https://ew.com/movies/close-encounters-of-the-third-kind-photos/?slide=5781913#5781913



I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s and my instinctive feeling was that the typical green-skinned alien, viz the Mekon pictured way above and numerous video game covers etc was an old-fashioned cliche. The grey alien on the cover of Communion instinctively felt "sophisticated" because it wasn't green. It had an air of verisimilitude. The XCOM games then ran with that image for their Sectoids, which have mutated over the years from short, squat greys to taller, more human-like creatures that resemble skinned, drowned corpses. Meanwhile techno compilations / street art seemed to gravitate to the grey alien, often holding a spliff.

Frustratingly I can't find anything that discusses why Spielberg was drawn to that particular design of alien. Given that a lot of his work is built on nostalgia for the 1950s you'd think he would have paid homage to Forbidden Planet or This Island Earth. Albeit that from what I recall the aliens in Forbidden Planet are long-dead and the "alien" in This Island Earth is some kind of monster that even the alien-aliens think of as a monster.

As far as I can tell 2001 was the first modern pop-cultural attempt to make a serious, non-camp, non-silly attempt to portray aliens - and they gave up, because Kubrick and Clarke realised that the technology wasn't there. The next attempt was Star Wars, which had a diverse range of aliens, some of which looked ridiculous, but they were supposed to be "real" in a way that wasn't true of e.g. the monsters from Doctor Who.

But having said that I have the impression that cinematic sci-fi from the "new wave of science fiction" period generally avoided portraying aliens, because (a) it was too expensive to do it right (b) there was a general feeling that aliens were incomprehensible (c) new wave sci-fi was more interested in social issues than "little green men". I mention this because my impression is that UFO pop culture draws heavily from films, but I can't think of a defining, non-camp depiction of aliens pre-Close Encounters. The aliens in e.g. Solaris, the late-70s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Phase IV etc were either invisible or amorphous or ants. The Man Who Fell to Earth had a kind of prototypical grey, albeit with human proportions:



A similar look seems to have been borrowed for the 1980 miniseries of The Martian Chronicles:



Although in the book the Martians are dark-skinned, from what I remember (Bradbury presumably thought of Mars as having a lot of sun).

It's actually surprising how few sci-fi films from the 1970s had aliens in them. "Pop cultural depictions of aliens" is the kind of thing you could write a university essay on. Bernadette Peters has aged well, I just wanted to point that out.
 
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As far as I can tell 2001 was the first modern pop-cultural attempt to make a serious, non-camp, non-silly attempt to portray aliens - and they gave up, because Kubrick and Clarke realised that the technology wasn't there.
Did they intend to show actual aliens at some point? The lack of alien beings, acting only through the presence of the monolith, is one of the best aspects of the movie.
 
Did they intend to show actual aliens at some point? The lack of alien beings, acting only through the presence of the monolith, is one of the best aspects of the movie.
According to "The Making Of..." which I read years ago, there was an attempt made. They were looking for something ethereal and non-physical, but the things they came up with were sufficiently abstract that it was not clear they were intended as alien beings. IIRC, and it has been a few years, some of them ended up in the psychedelic sequence as Dave passes through the monolith on his way to the Great Hotel Room In The Sky...

Actually "Little Green Men" are shown first in Nickell's time line graphic, circa 1947.
Actually they are the first on the list.
How the heck did I miss them? I stand abashed and more than a bit sheepish.
May I modify to expressing surprise that, given how ubiquitous the LGM meme was, they do not show up more than that once among UFO reports?

By the way, from October 29, 1965:

The_Great_Gazoo.png
The Great Gazoo probably deserves a mention.
 
Are we sure about that. Here are a few of the images I can find of the painting and I'm not seeing what's being reflected to create the alien:
A lot of what's being reflected is apparently ...a reflection! The one that @Zoltan shows reflected has a light source to the right which makes a bit of a shine to produce the forehead of the "face". (It's in the louvre, hung under glass, but the shine appears to be a reflection off the paint surface. The painting is on a wooden panel, and may not be completely flat after five hundred years.) The "eyes" are apparently a little blotchiness in the paint (I don't know if that portion has been retouched or repaired) and the video depends a lot on "enhancement" for the effect.
 
In my modest UFO file, I found a link to a blog, "Yankee Skeptic", authored by kittynh (her name is Kitty).
It has this article, "Who Invented Little Grays? Hollywood or the Hills?", dated 29 July 2013.
Link, https://yankeeskeptic.com/2013/07/29/who-invented-little-grays-hollywood-or-the-hills/

Kitty argues that the Hill's descriptions of "their" aliens doesn't really match our idea of "Grays". She thinks the media coverage/ re-telling of the Hill's experience was more influential than the Hill's actual accounts:

A TV movie “The UFO Incident” was aired in 1975, starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons.
The aliens in the movie looked very much like the typical “little grays” we all know today from movies, TV and novelty store items.
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I don't know how much impact "The UFO Incident" had- I was vaguely aware it existed but I've never seen it.
Then again, maybe the minority of people really "into" the UFO mythos at that time would have made a point of seeing it, if they were aware it was on.

Here's a few pics relating to the TVM:
the-ufo-incident-520660l-600x0-w-e378733b.jpg819z8yrc-PL._SL1500_-321x500.jpg
UFO Incident Still.jpgevidenza-2.jpg

Kitty acknowledges there are differences between these creatures and archetypal Grays. She also mentions the "Outer Limits" hypothesis, a response to Barney Hill's sketch of an alien made under hypnosis in 1964:
Barny's collaborative sketch and the character from the TV show:



The beings actually described by Betty and Barney Hill in 1961 are worth a quick review.

Ten days after the Hill's journey, Betty had 5 consecutive nights of dreams which she seems to have believed were memories of actual events.
She described the "aliens" as being about 5 feet to 5 ft. 4 inches (152.4 cm to 162.56 cm) tall, in blue uniforms, with long noses, black hair, dark eyes (no indication their was anything unusual about the eyes IIRC); their skin was "a greyish colour".
They wore blue uniforms and "caps similar to those worn by military cadets".
(From Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barney_and_Betty_Hill_incident)

Whether she meant the headwear was like a side-cap or a peaked cap I'm not sure. But both are uniform items with origins (probably) in 19th century Europe, becoming very widespread in military and police use in the early 20th century through to today.

The recording, attached, is said to be of Barney Hill, under hypnosis conducted by Dr Benjamin Simon in 1964.
An important caveat: It sounds authentic to me, but I've no evidence that it is.




From Internet Archive, https://archive.org/details/Barney_Hill_Hypnosis_Session_1, "Uploaded by Kameron D Kiggins, obtained from Wendy Connors."
The timings below are approximate, the emphases are mine:

At 15:00 minutes, Barney sees a man looking over his shoulder through the "window" of the UFO;
"...I think of a red-haired Irishman..."

At 17:15, "..and the evil face- he looks like a German Nazi" and Barney goes on to describe a black uniform, and a black scarf around his neck draped over one shoulder. Later, Hill says the figure is wearing a black shiny jacket.
18:12, apparently about the "German Nazi", "...his eyes were slanted but not like a Chinee.." (Old, now offensive term for person of "Chinese" appearance).

20:20 Hill becomes distressed, again at 21:10, "his eyes..."

26:00 "...they're men - all with black jackets...", 26:44 "the eyes are there..."

Back to the blog article "Who Invented Little Grays? Hollywood or the Hills?" from the Yankee Skeptic blog, we read


...in a letter to Marjorie Fish, dated July 12, 1969. (Milne Special Collections, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH)

“Barney and I had a theory that the star that the humanoids were from probably was a colder planet than the Earth. We based this thought on similarities between the humanoids and a group of Indians who live in the Magellan Straights, south of South America. These Indians have adapted to the climate or severe cold by developing fat folds to protect themselves which give the impression of being much like the humanoids. IE, the Indians have very large slant eyes, surrounded by a fat fold which gives the impression of extremely large eyes; their noses are almost ehinct (sic);their lips are difficult to see because they are hidden by another fat fold: Their fingers and toes are very short, but their hands and feet are thick with layers of protective fat."
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Also,
This time from a October 20, 1964 letter to “Walter” about a talk given at Phillips Exeter Academy, a private preparatory school in the Concord NH area.

“Last night Barney and I went to Phillips Exeter Academy to hear Dr. Coon, anthropologist, of Harvard, lecture on the ‘Races of Man’. He showed several slides, but one of them looked like the people on the space ship. Barney and I both recognized this at the same time! It was the slide of a woman that lives in a very cold climate and showed her physical adaptation to this very cold. I believe she is of Mongolian background, with very distinct slant eyes. Her adaptation is the formation or a fatty substance around her eyes, which causes the appearance of a large eye extending around to the side. Her nose is very small and flat to her face. Her mouth seems distorted by this fatty substance... ... It was surprising to actually see a picture which resembled the men so closely – much better than we could ever begin to do.”
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(Emphasis added).

I think Kitty /Yankee Skeptic blog might be right to some extent, the aliens in "The UFO Incident" look more like Grays than the descriptions given by the Hills. We never hear UFO enthusiasts saying that Barney Hill witnessed a red-headed Irishman and a German Nazi with a scarf! (I'll pass over Betty's rather strange takes on the features of foreign people).

My general feeling is that the appearance of Grays probably has many sources. The UFO community seem to have arrived at some sort of consensus about what they look like (despite the absence of a single trustworthy photo, of course), and those images get repeated in popular culture- a sort of meme or trope.
A bit like many of us might have a similar mental image of a dragon- essentially a giant quadruped reptile with scaly or leathery wings and a powerful snout full of dagger-like teeth. But no-one's seen a real dragon, and there are many sources, some going back centuries, which perhaps helped shape our imagined beast.
 
A bit like many of us might have a similar mental image of a dragon- essentially a giant quadruped reptile with scaly or leathery wings and a powerful snout full of dagger-like teeth.

Very true. And notice the modern (evolved?) concept of a dragon is very different from what the ancients imagined a 'dràkon' was (it was just a big snake, wings and fire breath were added later). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon if anyone is interested.
 
Bit off-topic, but regarding the "mirrored image" in Leonardo's St. John the Baptist,
Are we sure about that.
It's a bit less impressive without the extra edits

If the "reflection" image is meant to represent anything at all, maybe it's meant to be a fleur-de-lis
OIP.jpgFleur-De-Lis-Symbol.png

In Italy, the fleur-de-lis ...is mainly known from the crest of the city of Florence.
...As an emblem of the city, it is therefore found in icons of Zenobius, its first bishop, and associated with Florence's patron Saint John the Baptist
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Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the Florentine Republic and spent the first 30 years of his life there (including in Florence itself), 1452-1482; he later returned to Florence between 1500 and 1508.

Known for his use of mirror writing amongst other things.

Frankly, I think this is unlikely- but more likely than a Grey.
Pareidolia is my best guess.
 
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