The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)

The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)

Theodoros - April 3, 2018

A beautiful pinup girl of the World War II era who became an agent for the U.S. intelligence services during the Cold War, Candy Jones was born on December 31, 1925, in Atlantic City, New Jersey as Jessica Arline Wilcox. Despite little Candy being raised by a wealthy family her childhood was a nightmare. At age three her parents divorced and her mother took Candy to live with her grandmother in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Candy’s parents physically abused her. Her father, on a home visit, crushed her fingers in a nutmeg grater and her manic-depressive mother beat her on the legs so badly that Candy had to wear thick stockings to conceal the welts. Her mother often locked her in dark rooms and did not allow her to bring friends home from school.

Inside these rooms the vulnerable little girl developed a fantasy family to keep her company and help her through her lonely periods. She visualized her friends appearing in the twilight reflections of a large wall mirror. All the figures of this imagined world faded away after Candy’s childhood, except for one, “Arlene.” Her personality was the reverse of Candy’s and had some of her mother’s characteristics. She was tough and ruthless, sarcastic and cruel, had a domineering personality with a grating low voice, and was always trying to run things.

The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)
‘Splitting’ is a psychological defense mechanism in which one ‘part’ of the personality becomes separated. Childhood Trauma Recovery.

When her grandmother died, mother and daughter returned to Atlantic City, where the young girl’s life was uneventful: sheltered, protected, and closely supervised by her mother. After graduating from high school, she won the Miss Atlantic City contest and pursued a career as a fashion model. Her long blond hair, perfect features, and towering height (she was about six foot four), made it easy for her to become a successful model. She subsequently changed her name to Candy Jones and in the 1940s and 1950s she was a famous model and one of the leading pinup girls. Her face graced the covers of eleven major national magazines in a single month in 1943.

The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)
Candy Jones posing for Yank magazine. Hilobrow.

During the Pacific campaign of World War II, while touring military bases with the United Service Organizations (USO) in 1945, Candy became ill with undulant fever and malaria, and was put in a special hospital in the Philippines. There she met with a man who told her that his name was Dr. Gilbert Jensen. He claimed to be a young medical officer, but in reality he was Dr. William S. Kroger, a psychologist at UCLA. This acquaintance was crucial for her life, with almost disastrous consequences.

In 1946, Candy married fashion czar Harry Conover, creator of the “cover girl” concept. Although she gave birth to three sons, she continued modeling and opened her own modeling agency next to her husband’s office. She also published books about glamour and fashion and about her experiences touring for the USO during World War II. However, her marriage was not a happy one and was destined to fail due to Conover’s being gay. In 1959, the couple divorced, leaving her with custody of their three sons and responsible for quite a bit of debt, including her ex-husband’s, who had disappeared after he withdrew all the money from their bank accounts.

The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)
Candy Jones working for NBC Radio back 1961. Hilobrow.

Candy Becomes CIA’s Powerful “Weapon”

In the sixties, Candy started to work for NBC radio which helped her to earn enough income to enroll her sons in an expensive boarding school. Through her news interviews, she met people in the entertainment business, politics, and the military; many of whom she’d already known from touring with the USO. During this time, an old acquaintance, a retired army general she knew from the South Pacific, dropped into her modeling agency and, in the course of casual conversation, asked Candy if she would allow the FBI to use her office as a mail drop location. At the time, she thought of this arrangement as a simple patriotic undertaking, and so she agreed to deliver mail for the FBI when traveling on business.

Shortly thereafter, she was approached by another old acquaintance, Dr. Jensen, who was creating and managing a unit of undercover agents for the CIA through mind-control experiments. He considered Candy an excellent prospect for recruitment. She was a celebrity, a patriot, single, traveled for business, in need of money, and most of all, she was considered to be susceptible to hypnosis. She already had an imaginary childhood playmate that he could build into a separate personality, tough enough to endure physical pain and vicious enough to kill with her bare hands. Candy eventually joined Dr. Jensen’s “unit,” becoming one of thousands of CIA employees not listed in headquarters’ records.

The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)
Candy Jones in 1967. Hilobrow.

Dr. Jensen became her control agent, and while he submitted Candy to hypnosis, using hypnotic techniques and intravenous injections of highly experimental drugs, he found “Arlene” and developed her. He succeeded in bringing Arlene forward in Candy’s mind so that she could take Candy over almost completely and send her on various experimental missions at home and abroad. This way he created a “perfect messenger,” one who could not reveal, even under torture, anything about the mission. As Arlene, she visited training camps, military bases, and secret medical facilities across America.

According to Donald Bain’s book, The Control of Candy Jones, Arlene was trained to use explosives, to fight in close combat with improvised weaponry such as a hatpin, and taught about disguises and communications. She learned how to kill with her bare hands, how to resist pain, and how to deal with interrogation techniques. As Arlene, she claimed to have visited many training camps, military bases and secret medical facilities across America, while her visit to South Vietnam in 1970 with the USO would later make her suspect that it had some connection to a failed attempt to free American prisoners of war from North Vietnam.

Bain also describes in his book that another piece of evidence surfaced when “Candy inadvertently held onto a passport of Arlene Grant: Candy in a dark wig and dark makeup.” Jones, however, claimed no recollection of posing for the passport. Arlene always carried lipstick that contained poison, which could be used to commit suicide if she were captured. According to Bain’s book, in order to demonstrate his work on “Arlene” in front of a full auditorium at CIA headquarters, Dr. Jensen put a lit candle inside Candy’s vagina without her registering pain or fear.

The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)
Long John Nebel on the left during the early 1970’s. Radio GOLD Index.

Marriage to Long John Nebel and “Rediscovering” Arlene

In 1972, Candy married the popular radio show host Long John Nebel, after a one-month courtship. Nebel was the first person to notice her strange behavior. One moment his wife was the most loving, sociable, and charming woman, and the next moment she would become vicious and cruel. One night she even attempted to strangle him in a military-style manner. According to Nebel, she didn’t remember anything about her violent outbursts once she snapped out of the wild fits. What made Nebel even more suspicious about her unpredictable behavior was that his wife would often travel claiming that she works for the U.S. government.

Convinced that Jones was cheating on him, Nebel suggested to help Jones treat her chronic insomnia through hypnosis in hope to discover what’s going on during her “secret” trips. What he exposed, however, wasn’t another man but his wife’s alter ego — an extremely hostile woman named Arlene. From the audiotapes of Jones speaking under hypnosis, Nebel reported all the aforementioned details (in the second page), which Jones didn’t even recall. During her work with the CIA, Jones had the impression that she had occasionally delivered mail for her government, but she was not aware of her alter ego Arlene at all. After some time, her occasional employment with the government was no longer satisfactory and she decided to leave.

The Curious Case of the Sexy Secret Agent: Candy Jones (The Dark Secrets of the Project MKUltra)
Project MKUltra, also called the CIA mind control program painting. Sagacious News Network.

However, the only proof of her involvement in the CIA mind-control program was the audio-taped conversations of Candy speaking under hypnosis when questioned by Nebel. This led many experts to conclude that the whole thing was nothing more than just a hoax by Nebel, who was quite notorious for such stunts on radio, while several psychiatrists claimed that Candy Jones suffered from “alleged false memory syndrome.” A few years later though, Nebel and Jones’ claims gained more credibility when it was discovered that the CIA had indeed been running extensive mind-control tests and experiments under a program named Project MKUltra. The project was directed by the Office of Scientific Intelligence of the CIA and coordinated with the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories.

For over 20 years, the project aimed to “develop a capability in the covert use of biological and chemical materials.” The motivation was also defensive, as the American government was afraid during the Cold War that the Russians and Chinese had already developed weapons in this area. As the project’s proponents noted,

The development of a comprehensive capability in this field of covert chemical and biological warfare gives us a thorough knowledge of the enemy’s theoretical potential, thus enabling us to defend ourselves against a foe who might not be as restrained in the use of these techniques as we are.

Even though there are still many doubters who dismiss every claim Nebel and Jones ever made, there’s no doubt that the Cold War between the two great superpowers, the United States of American and the Soviet Union, might had not been the typical war but still had countless victims, with Candy Jones possibly being one of them.


Where Did We Get This Stuff? Here Are Our Sources

“Was This Blond Bombshell the CIA’s Secret Weapon?” Ozy. Theodore Karasavvas. 2016.

“Taking Control of Candy Jones.” Damn Interesting. Jason Bellows. 2006.

“The Control of Candy Jones.” Book. Donald Bain. 1976.

“Project Mkultra: One of the Most Shocking CIA Programs of All Time.” Today I Found Out. Melissa. 2013.

“Candy Jones – Hypnosis & Mind Control.” Mysterious People. Brian Haughton. 2003.