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“The Search for Michael Rockefeller”

An Unsolved Mystery?

Amos Lassen

In 1961, Michael Rockefeller left on a voyage down the cannibal coast of New Guinea in a trading canoe. Several miles off shore, the sea became heavy and the canoe was swamped. After spending a night adrift, Rockefeller set out to swim to shore, leaving his companion after telling his companion, “I think I can make it…” He was never seen again.

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In 2007, filmmaker Fraser C. Heston (son of Charlton) discovered a cache of lost footage shot by the author Milt Machlin during his expedition to the cannibal coast of New Guinea in 1969 to search for Rockefeller. The film includes previously unreleased footage and eyewitness interviews, including some amazing revelations, which shed new light on the unsolved mystery of Michael’s disappearance. Fraser Heston, has created an entirely new film from Milt Machlin’s unedited epic documentary.

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Milt Machlin, he then editor of Argosy magazine, had heard from an eyewitness that Michael was alive, held against his will by natives on an island off New Guinea. He was determined to either find Michael, or find out what happened to him. Heston has hours of never-before-seen film footage shot all over New Guinea and his film pulls you in and keeps you riveted to the screen.

Michael Rockefeller was the fifth child of New York Governor Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller. He was a member of the fourth-generation of the Rockefeller family. His disappearance was during an expedition in the Asmat region of southwestern Netherlands New Guinea. There has been debate as to whether he drowned, or was later killed by villagers after swimming ashore. The film shows footage of this white man living among the villagers, as one of them, so there was remained the possibility that he was still alive.

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In the 1970’s Leonard Nimoy brought us “In Search Of…” of the 1970s, where Rockefeller was discussed previously. But Nimoy did not have the additional footage we have here, thus making the search even more interesting now.