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Urban Legends, Are You SURE 'Mr. Gorsky' Was a Hoax?

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Urban Legends, Are You SURE 'Mr. Gorsky' Was a Hoax?

Dear Urban Legends:

The following was posted as a hoax on your website:

When Apollo Mission Astronaut Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon, he not only gave his famous "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" statement but followed it by several remarks, usual com traffic between him, the other astronauts and Mission Control. Just before he re-entered the lander, however, he made the enigmatic remark "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky."

Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Over the years many people questioned Armstrong as to what the "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" statement meant, but Armstrong always just smiled.

On July 5, 1995 (in Tampa Bay, FL) while answering questions following a speech, a reporter brought up the 26-year-old question to Armstrong. This time he finally responded. Mr. Gorsky had finally died and so Neil Armstrong felt he could answer the question.

When he was a kid, he was playing baseball with a friend in the backyard. His friend hit a fly ball which landed in the front of his neighbor's bedroom windows. His neighbors were Mr. & Mrs. Gorsky.

As he leaned down to pick up the ball, young Armstrong heard Mrs. Gorsky shouting at Mr. Gorsky, "Oral sex! You want oral sex?! You'll get oral sex when the kid next door walks on the moon!"

True story.

I absolutely recall hearing these comments on the radio, in 1995, as told by Armstrong following the press conference. Either what I heard was an audio hoax, he was just kidding, or it is the truth.

Are you SURE it was a hoax? It may not be part of the official transcript, but it seems that he said it. Is there a source to find audio of that news conference?



Dear Reader:

Not to quibble over the fine points, but I labeled the Gorsky tale an urban legend, not a hoax (the latter defined as a deliberate attempt to deceive, which I don't think this was). Granted, I did say the story is false, and there's still no good reason to suppose otherwise.

It's quite possible that what you heard on the radio was Neil Armstrong trying to explain the origin of "Gorsky," which, as he has stated elsewhere, he first heard delivered as a joke in 1994 by stand-up comedian Buddy Hackett. And that makes sense. If you think about it, the story screams "Borscht Belt" right down to the ethnic ring of the protagonist's surname, "Mr. Gorsky" (or "Mr. Liebowitz," as a British newspaper columnist once dubbed the same character).

In any case, I think we ought to take this statement by Eric M. Jones, editor of NASA's Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal, as the official and final word on the Gorsky affair:

During November 1995, a clever (and slightly risqué) story was widely circulated on the Internet concerning a statement Neil is supposed to have made during the Apollo 11 EVA. At the suggestion of several readers, let me state that Neil never said "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky" at any time during the mission. Indeed, on November 28, 1995, Neil wrote, "I understand that the joke is a year old. I first heard it in California delivered by (comedian) Buddy Hackett."

If for some reason that still doesn't satisfy, audio recordings of the first moonwalk — which, by the way, match my own recollection of the event as broadcast on live television — verify that Armstrong's exact words were: "That's one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind."

In my opinion, that cinches it — unless, of course, you're one of those who believes the lunar landing itself was a hoax, in which case the point is moot.

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