Have you ever looked at a still from an early Hollywood movie, pointed out some random obscure extra and thought, "That’s me. That’s who I was." No? Well then you’re probably on the same boat as anyone else on the planet who isn’t a specific 10-year-old Oklahoma boy named Ryan. His peculiar predicament since the age of 4 has allegedly forced him to reconcile with a voice from his past…life, that is. He believes that he’s the reincarnation of an obscure old-time Hollywood figure named Marty Martyn, and he’s been citing eerily accurate facts to back up his claims.
In a recent reexamination of Ryan’s much-publicized reincarnation claims by NBC News, Dr. Jim Tucker, a professor of psychiatry and neurobehavioral sciences who has written extensively about Ryan’s case and that of other children with similar reincarnation experiences, claims that he was able to confirm 55 of the factual details that Ryan divulged about his past life as Marty Martyn, who died in 1964 at the age of 61. In fact, an issue regarding Martyn’s age would actually be proven by Ryan, whose claim exposed a mistake in the acknowledged records.
What started as inexplicable nightmares at age 4 about memories of Hollywood would manifest into something supremely bizarre when Ryan was leafing through a book about Hollywood history; specifically regarding a photo from the 1932 movie, Night After Night. While that particular film was notable as the film debut of legendary starlet Mae West, it also seemed to be the source of an important epiphany for young Ryan. Pointing to an extra seen on the edge of the movie scene still, Ryan believed that he had found the identity of the person who he used to be in a past life from half a century before he was even born; the life of Marty Martyn.
From there, the floodgates had opened and a series of oddly specific recollections about the life of some obscure actor-turned Hollywood agent started to flow from Ryan’s young mind; facts that even Google would have had a hard time pinning down. (In fact, the potato quality pic above is just about the only image of Martyn on the Internet.) Ryan somehow knew details of Martyn’s life, like his time dancing on Broadway, world travel, his dealings with the agency, and his five marriages. Plus, similar to the oddly normal way memories become twisted and fragmented, Ryan recalls living at an address with the word "rock." As it turns out, Marty Martyn lived in Beverly Hills in the phonetically similar sounding North Roxbury. His memories would even evolve to specifics about his old house and its swimming pool, as well as random moments hanging around the beach with girlfriends and sitting back to watch surfers.
It’s certainly easy to be incredulous about these claims, and explanations pointing to the boy being coached by his parents are the immediate knee-jerk retort. However, in the interview, Ryan’s mother claims that growing up in a Baptist church, a concept of reincarnation such this would go against her religious beliefs. (Take that for what you will.) Even if Ryan was coached at an early age to the point where he truly believes these memories are his own (which is still a possibility), the amount of research involved in the fabrication of these memories would be extremely extensive, which begs the question: to what end? To be featured on TV interviews? To be researched by psychiatrists? To be connected to the venerable film legacy of Marty Martyn? (Yeah, that last one was sarcasm.)
Regardless, as Sherlock Holmes famously said, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." Whether or not there are more "improbable" variables to this story unknown to the public remains up for debate.