Tom Graeff leaving the
Los Angeles Court House
in 1960.

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In and Out of Hollywood

In November of 1959, Graeff bought a large advertisement in the Los Angeles Times, announcing that God had spoken to him and wanted him to spread peace and love throughout the world. This was followed by another advertisement announcing that Graeff was now named Jesus Christ II, and would be making an appearance on the steps of a Hollywood church to spread God's word. In 1960, Graeff appeared in the Los Angeles County Superior Court to petition for his name change. With vocal opposition by the Christian Defense League, the petition was denied. Later in 1960, Graeff interrupted a church service at the Hollywood Church of Christ, shouting "I'm Jesus Christ II and I've got a message. Everyone must listen." Graeff was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace. This was actually his second arrest for disturbing the peace that year. Earlier he had disrupted a college class and had to be forcibly removed.

Sentenced to 90 days in jail, Graeff jumped bail and fled first to the Midwest, then farther east until more entanglements with the law and state authorities led to jail time and finally an involuntary stay in a state mental hospital. After a series of electro-shock treatments, he was returned to his parents in California by late 1964.

Although Tom seemed to have given up filmmaking for involvement in various social and religious causes while a fugitive, he nonetheless was hired as editor on David L. Hewitt's ultra low-budget science fiction film Wizard of Mars in 1965. By 1968, he had completed a bizarre screenplay entitled alternately Please, Please Turn Me Off, The Immortalizer, and The Fate Worse Than Death. In early 1968, Graeff took out a small ad in Variety, announcing that his screenplay, now entitled Orf, was for sale for the unprecedented sum of $500,000. Gossip columnist Joyce Haber followed up and printed a sarcastic piece in the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Graeff claimed Robert Wise was attached and Carl Reiner was to star. Wise denied any involvement.

Graeff, hurt by Haber's misquotes and nasty attitude, published an apology to Robert Wise in The Hollywood Reporter, accusing Haber of purposefully omitting facts and trying to destroy negotiations to get the script produced. Haber responded in her column by telling everyone in Hollywood of the Jesus Christ II incident ten years earlier.

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