Over the years I've learned that, with regard to many of my more obscure childhood interests (like comic books and Dungeons & Dragons, for example), there's almost always a "story behind the story" that's surprisingly compelling, or shockingly prurient or incomprehensibly bizarre. Well, I've now stumbled on another example.
A couple of days ago I wrote here about the novelty "X-Ray Specs" that used to be sold in the 1970s via ads in the back of comic books, and how their creator also invented "Sea Monkeys." Well, it turns out that man, Harold von Bruaunhut (who died in 2003 at the age of 77), was a white supremacist who had a long-term association with The Aryan Nations, to whom he funneled some of the profits from his toys, including Sea Monkeys. This is all the more surprising because he was apparently raised Jewish as "Harold Nathan Braunhut" in New York City in the 1920s and 1930s. The Los Angeles Times ran an expose about all this in October 2000, which includes some shockingly racist and anti-semitic quotes from him, that you can read in its entirety HERE. Here's an excerpt:
"There are newsletters from an organization called the National Anti-Zionist Institute, headed by 'Hendrik von Braun,' whose return address, P.O. Box 809, Bryans Road, Md., is the same place one sends away for Sea Monkey paraphernalia.... Floyd Cochran, spokesman for the Aryan Nations until 1992 and a reformed racist, recalls Von Braunhut as a slight, balding man with 'a rather large nose for a person of the Aryan Nations.' He says Von Braunhut was something of a misfit. 'He'd give long speeches about numerology and he'd make references to the pyramids,' Cochran says. 'It just didn't play very well.'"