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Astronaut Impersonator Behind Bars

June 20, 1963 - There was a packed audience in a Houston nightclub June 13 when entertainer Milton Berle introduced a crew-cut young man as one of the new U.S. astronauts. That was what the young man had called himself for a month. But sitting at a nearby table were NASA public affairs officer Lieutenant Colonel John (Shorty) Powers and four of the real astronauts, who knew better. Today, the crew-cut man was in jail. “I was petrified,” said Jerry G. Tees, 28, through the bars of Harris County Jail. “I ran from the room, but a guy dragged me out to meet Powers. Naturally, I had to tell him I was no astronaut.” Tees told a newsman in a jailhouse interview that this was not his first excursion into unreality. He said during the past 10 years he has also imitated doctors, businessmen, and military officers. “I don’t know why I do it,” he remarked. “I just live in a dream world, I guess.” The FBI arrested Tees last night after he posed for a month as “Lieutenant Commander Jerry Clayton, a new Navy astronaut.” There is no such astronaut. In his adopted role, Tees obtained credit at a café. He is charged with impersonating an officer for credit purposes. “Man, I don’t even know why I did that. I could have easily gotten credit under my own name,” he said.

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