4. Gypsy Moth Anti-Defamation League
In a 1982 article in The New York Time, Jo-Jo the Gypsy protested the political incorrectness of the term "gypsy moth" at a time when the little critters were devastating trees in the Northeast. Jo-Jo, another Skaggs incarnation, railed against the injustice of associating the pesky moths with Gypsies, a downtrodden minority that has long suffered from discrimination. Jo-Jo suggested the varmints should be called "Hitler Moths." The New York Post gleefully reported the esteemed newspaper's mistake in an article headlined "Times Falls for the Old Switcheroo."
5. Hair Replacement From the Dead
Hair Today Ltd. gleaned a substantial amount of air time and ink in 1990 as a firm specializing in a cure of baldness through hair transplants from the dead, much the way doctors would transplant a kidney. Skaggs said the ideal recipients would be salesmen or TV news anchors who needed to "look their best" and could afford the $3,500 price tag. The Boston Globe was among the news organizations fooled on this one.
6. The Fat Squad
Skaggs assumed the role of Joe Bones, a former Marine Corps drill sergeant determined to wipe out obesity. He told ABC's "Good Morning America" in 1986 that for "$300 a day plus expenses" his commandos would disarm any dieter who tried to sneak a cookie before bedtime. Host David Hartman later told the press: "We were had, in spades." The Philadelphia Inquirer was also duped.
7. The Final Curtain
Talk about the art of dying: What if cemeteries could be turned into theme parks for conceptual artists who want to go out in style, like Kim Markegard, who wanted her headstone to be a jukebox, so that not-so-well-wishers could dance on her grave. Markegard, of course, was a product of Skaggs' imagination. In 2000, he whipped up "The Final Curtain," an alternative cemetery. Among the customers who supposedly purchased plots were writer Julia Solis, who wanted her body fat rendered into fuel for an eternal flame.
Skaggs conned some 39 newspapers, six TV stations and 10 magazines into believing in The Final Curtain, including the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press. Two European TV crews inquired about shooting a documentary, and a student at the University of Chicago asked to use The Final Curtain as the basis of her graduate thesis.
Buck Wolf is entertainment producer at ABCNEWS.com. "The Wolf Files" is published Tuesdays.