Documentary Reveals Secrets Behind Halloween Legend

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Award-winning filmmaker Zac Adams is ready to unveil his documentary on the famous goblin Tall Betsy.
Award-winning filmmaker Zac Adams is ready to unveil his documentary on the famous goblin Tall Betsy.

A documentary about the famous Tall Betsy goblin will premiere exclusively on WRCB, Channel 3, on Sunday at 1 p.m. 

Award-winning filmmaker Zac Adams made the announcement this week. Earlier this year, Mr. Adams revealed that the documentary had won a prestigious Telly Award. The national Telly awards honor the best local, regional and cable television programs. 

Mr. Adams, owner of Nashville-based Skydive Films, visited Cleveland in 2011 to interview entrepreneur and philanthropist Allan Jones, the creator of the Tall Betsy character.

Mr. Adams also interviewed Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and others who had firsthand knowledge of Tall Betsy. 

Mr. Jones, the pioneer of the payday loan industry who founded Cleveland-based Check Into Cash, created the modern Tall Betsy character more than 30 years ago. 

Mr. Jones’ mother, Gincy, as well as his grandmother, Marie Slaughter, told him stories of a Tall Betsy goblin during his Cleveland childhood. Mr. Jones’ version of the goblin resides in Fort Hill Cemetery and stands more than seven feet tall.

“Allan gave our team access to a wealth of never-seen-before photos and videos,” Mr. Adams said. “There are things in this film that will surprise people, including the real reason why Tall Betsy suddenly vanished with no explanation. The answer will surprise you.” 

Tall Betsy began appearing at Mr. Jones’ home — then located on Centenary Avenue — in 1980. Once word of the “gruesome girlie” spread, many of Mr. Jones’ neighbors began decorating their homes as a tribute to the goblin and a poem was created called “The Legend of Tall Betsy.” 

The goblin became so popular that in 1986, MainStreet Cleveland — the city’s downtown revitalization group — organized the Halloween Block Party that included games, costume contests and treats.

The state of Tennessee named Tall Betsy “The Official Halloween Goblin of Bradley County” on May 24, 1989.  

Mr. Jones said the Tall Betsy legend eventually spread outside of Cleveland and became such an event that in 1993 his family took an official count of how many people came to their house. 

“From 5-8 p.m., we handed out exactly 11,201 pieces of bubblegum,” Mr. Jones revealed. “We believe that was a record for a single home on Halloween night.” 

Tall Betsy retired in 1998 after drawing a Halloween Block Party crowd of 25,000. The Block Party was dedicated in honor of Tall Betsy’s 25th anniversary in 2005.  

Prior to his Tall Betsy documentary, Mr. Adams created “The Bell Witch Legend” film, a documentary that investigated the world-famous 19th century haunting of a Tennessee family. The Bell Witch documentary will air on Sunday directly following Tall Betsy. 

The Tall Betsy documentary is narrated by Lynn Hoffman, host of A&E’s “Private Sessions.” 

“It is time for the public to finally know the truth about who Tall Besty was and why she came to such a sudden end,” Mr. Adams said. “Tune in on Sunday – you won’t forget it.” 


In this rare photo, Tall Betsy wows young trick-or-treaters with tales of Halloweens past.
In this rare photo, Tall Betsy wows young trick-or-treaters with tales of Halloweens past.

PHOTOS: Kyle Avenue Strut On Lookout Mountain

Children and their methods of conveyance were the stars of the Kyle Avenue Strut at Lookout Mountain, Tn. (click for more)

North Market Street Closures Announced For Utility Work

The southbound and center lanes of North Market Street will be closed from  8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.  on  Monday through Wednesday, for a utility project at 109 N. Market St. Traffic will be detoured west on Kent Street, then south on Velma Street, east on Cherokee Boulevard, and back to Market Street.  In order to view a map of all closures, ... (click for more)

Boy In Critical Condition; Another Person Stabbed And Man Shot In Dispute At Apartments On Citico Avenue

A boy is in critical condition after being stabbed on Sunday afternoon in what police described as a dispute between neighbors. One other person was stabbed and a man was shot in the stomach in the melee in the 2700 block of Citico Avenue. The injuries to the second person stabbed in the neck and the shooting victim were said to be not life-threatening. The 12:45 p.m. incident ... (click for more)

Woman, 25, Shot On Dodson Avenue Early Sunday Afternoon

A 25-year-old woman was shot on Dodson Avenue just after noon on Sunday. Officers with the Chattanooga Police Department were notified at 12:13 p.m. by a local hospital that a victim arrived with a gunshot wound. The shooting reportedly occurred in the 1300 block of Dodson Avenue. Shaday Millener arrived at the hospital in a personal vehicle with a non-life threatening ... (click for more)

Patrol Cars Donation To Kevin Muhammad's Nation Of Islam Sets A Dangerous Precedent

Re: City Police donating two patrol cars to Kevin Muhammad's Nation of Islam: While I know it's unpopular to mention the wisdom of separation of church and state, this sets a dangerous precedent and should meet with concern from everyone who values religious and secular freedom. What's next? Southern Baptists getting old city parking scooters to patrol church parking lots ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Pitch Called ‘The Defector’

When Jose Fernandez was killed early Sunday morning in a boating accident, he was 24 years old yet had already lived a life much larger than almost all old men. He had spent part of a year in an unimaginably cruel Cuban prison, this when he only 14 years old and sandwiched in an inhumane cell among grown criminals. There were murders daily – in his very cell -- and nobody cared. ... (click for more)