The night of November 22, 1987, started out the same as any other for the households of Chicago. It was a little past 9:14 p.m., and people across the state were tuned into the Nine O’Clock News on Channel 9. Everything was as it should have been, and sports correspondent Dan Roan was telling audiences about a game between the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions. But then: darkness. The signal seemed to cut out. And when it came back shortly afterwards, what appeared on the screen left everyone absolutely horrified.
A grotesque face
There, on everybody’s television sets, the face of a person was staring out. Except this was no normal face: as a matter of fact, it looked absolutely grotesque. It looked like some sort of ghoul, with shades covering its eyes and the creepiest of smiles you could imagine on its lips. Beneath the horrible head, the thing’s body was dressed rather dapperly in a fine suit. The background to this scene, meanwhile, appeared to be spinning around and around. What was happening here? Something was deeply wrong.
Move in for a closer look
If you managed not to recoil from the terrifying sight on the TV screen — and if you had it in you to move in and take a closer look — it was possible to discern something telling about this horrible face: it appeared to be made of rubber. That’s to say, it was a mask. Now, that might initially have felt like something of a relief. Realizing you weren’t looking at some sort of demon can only be a good thing. But still, it didn’t exactly help to clear things up.
Needing to act fast
Over at the WGN-TV studio, which was responsible for the broadcast, it was panic stations! The technicians working inside the control room were absolutely baffled. They couldn’t make head nor tail of what had happened, but they needed to do something, fast. Their studio was responsible for broadcasting a signal to people all over this state, so it was down to them to get rid of this grotesque footage. Someone managed to do just that: order was restored. The footage was suddenly back with Roan.
Wondering what happened
Roan, quite understandably, looked absolutely baffled when the feed cut back to him once again in the studio. Like everyone at home, he’d seen what had happened, and he was just as weirded out by it as anyone. With a shocked smile to camera, he addressed all the viewers at home who had been tuned in to experience this bizarre episode in television history. “Well, if you’re wondering what’s happened,” he began, allowing himself an uneasy giggle, “so am I.”