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.

Weekly Road Construction Report

Here is the weekly road construction report for Hamilton County: U.S. 27 (SR-29) reconstruction project from Manufacturers Road (Olgiati Bridge over the Tennessee River) to U.S. 127 (SR-8, Signal Mountain Road/Boulevard):  Weather permitting, the contractor may have lane closures throughout the project area on weeknights to perform road work.  They will also be working ... (click for more)

MLK Blvd. And Market Street Closed Friday For Nightfall

ML King Boulevard between Broad Street and Georgia Avenue and Market Street between East 8th Street and East 10th Street will be closed from 5:30 p.m. to midnight on Friday, for the Nightfall Concert Series.  The 800 block of Cherry Street will be closed at ML King Boulevard and will only be accessible from East 8th Street. There will be limited handicapped parking ... (click for more)

County Commission Chairmanship Up For Grabs After Exit Of Henry, Skillern

The chairmanship of the County Commission is up for grabs after the exit of two commissioners who have held the post in recent years. Larry Henry is moving on to serve as Circuit Court clerk. Fred Skillern was upset by Randy Fairbanks in the Republican primary. Most of the returning commissioners have their eye on the possibility of taking over as chairman, or at least getting ... (click for more)

PAST Act On Horse Abuse Stalls Out In U.S. House Despite 70% Support

Rep. Ed Whitfield (KY-01), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, issued the following statement today regarding the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 1518:   “I regret to inform you that Speaker of the House, John Boehner, currently refuses  to bring the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act to the floor for a vote.  His decision ... (click for more)

Curtis Adams: Beck, Mackey Should Be Considered For County Commission Leadership

Just think about this;  a person highly qualified applying for a job.  As he is just about finished filling out his papers for his interview, he sees at the bottom there is a place for him to check Democrat or Republican.  He would think, “if I mark the wrong one I may not get the job.” Being a real leader requires honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, fairness. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Mark’s 50th Anniversary Toast

In the new book that celebrates the first 50 years of baseball’s Southern League, its splendid author Mark McCarter recalls that very early in his career as a sports writer, he was riding with his boss somewhere and mentioned that if the legendary Allan Morris ever needed help covering the Chattanooga Lookouts that he’d love to help. Today, as he looks back, he ruefully adds, “I ... (click for more)