BEN HUR SHOCKER!
1925 movie extra traveled back in time -
and died in Pompeii
Archaeologists say the body of an actor who
disappeared from the set of the 1926 version of the
movie Ben Hur has been discovered in a newly excavated
section of Pompeii.
The ancient Roman city was buried under millions of
tons of molten rock when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79
And while nobody can say for sure how the
little-known extra wound up trapped under 20 feet of
rock, ash and volcanic debris, at least one scientist
has suggested that he might somehow have traveled
through a time warp that led him to one of the most
horrifying deaths imaginable -- 1,900 years before he
"We really have no idea what's happened here but a
time warp is the first thing that comes to mind," says
Dr. Frank Ramane, leader of the archaeological team that
found the actor's body late last month.
"As was the case with most victims of Pompeii, the
body was very nearly perfectly preserved under a layer
of hardened ash.
"And linking the corpse to the movie and modern times
was made when we found a steel I.D. bracelet on the left
wrist. On top it bore the name 'William Green.' On its
back were inscribed the words, 'Ben Hur. 1925.'
Dr. Ramane says movie researchers have confirmed that
an aspiring young actor and sometime stunt man named
Bill Green disappeared from the set of the original Ben
Hur movie while the famous chariot race was being filmed
in Culver City, Calif., in 1925. The movie was released
the next year.
They also learned from old police records that
Green's friends -- he had no known family -- reported
him missing, but he was never found.
"How the man, or the body, got from 20th-century
Culver City to first-century Pompeii is the mystery that
remains to be solved," says Dr. Ramane, who is based in
Los Angeles and was excavating the site under a
commission from the Italian Antiquities Authority in
"You always have to consider the potentials for a
hoax, although I believe that to be the least likely
"For one thing, the Pompeii site is strictly
controlled, and you'd have to identify and pay off
dozens of Italian officials just to get them to look the
other way while you brought in the body.
"And then you'd have to cover that body with liquid
rock -- or something that looks like it -- which to my
mind is impossible.
"Maybe there's an extraterrestrial connection. Or it
could be that highly advanced people from our own future
-- time travelers -- abducted him from 1925 and for some
reason unknown to us left Green stranded in the year
"Or instead of just stranding him, maybe they
orchestrated his murder by placing him in Pompeii on
"In my view, the more complicated the scenarios get,
the less likely they are to have occurred. The simplest
explanation remains the time warp."
In fact, as Dr. Ramane points out, there are dozens
of references to time warps in literature dating back to
the beginning of recorded history, including one eerie
account involving Pompeii.
It appears in a retrospective of the eruption of
Vesuvius that was written in 82 A.D., just three years
after the volcano blew.
According to Dr. Ramane, it describes how "a crazy
man, a veteran soldier" tried to warn citizens to get
out of Pompeii by telling them he had seen what he
called the fiery choking horror to come.
"When they laughed in his face, he left town,
cheating fate," the archaeologist says.
"Maybe that's why Green got pulled into the past.
Perhaps fate can't be cheated. It could be the actor was
chosen to take the crazy legionary's place to keep the
death toll at a certain level that was somehow decided
"The one thing I'm absolutely sure of," he concludes,
"is that our investigation will
Published on: 11/04/2003