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Douglas Capraro Douglas Capraro

Video: TV Host Takes Magic Mushrooms on Air in 1961

This episode of "One Step Beyond," where host John Newland tripped on national TV, was groundbreaking for its time.

12 Substance

John Newland brought “the world of the unknown” to American TV viewers from 1959 to 1961 in his show One Step Beyond. In an episode entitled “The Sacred Mushroom,” Newland ate hallucinogenic—or “magic”—mushrooms on air, in what was a groundbreaking move for its time. He then went on to undergo a series of strange tests, including one where he was asked to identify images while wearing a blindfold.

It’s strange to imagine Americans watching this from their homes at a time when psychedelic drugs were only first reaching the public consciousness, and just a few years before the backlash of the late ’60s when these drugs were banned.

“We decided to shoot and shoot and shoot and see what happened,” said Newland in a 1999 interview, shortly before his death. He said the after-effects included “flashbacks and hallucinatory moments for about a month.” But when asked if he experienced any “psychic or paranormal” experiences, he said no, much to his disappointment.

This trippy TV segment is part of what became the most-watched episode of the series: