Who knew that Shirley MacLaine has insured herself, to the tune of $25 million, against being abducted by aliens? With almost any other Hollywood actor, you might have dismissed the report, in a US magazine, as fanciful. With Warren Beatty's older sister, it makes perfect sense, which is of course something all too seldom to be said for Shirley herself.
She is a devout believer in UFOs, which she has spotted from her home in New Mexico. A visit to her website uncovers a poem to confirm this. "UFOs are real you know, they have an eerie glow", runs the first of seven verses to whet the appetite of any Hallmark greetings card talent scout. "They have been seen in every state (by those who tell us so)".
More famously, Shirley is also a champion of reincarnation. Among an impressive, varied quartet of previous lives, as she confides in a book rashly entitled, I'm Over All That, was a stint as a Moorish lover of Charlemagne, and an earlier manifestation as a member of the pre-Atlantis 'Lemurian' civilisation – a curious race which, despite being hermaphrodites, chose to procreate through the power of meditation.
The extent of alien involvement in Lemutian culture is unknown, though some distant memory may well explain why she pays an annual fee to an insurance firm (quite possibly the Texas-based UFO Abduction Insurance Company) to ensure compensation in the event of being forcibly removed to a galaxy far, far away.
She is not the only earthling with such a policy (more than 20,000 Americans have taken out insurance of the kind). Ronald Reagan once returned from a trip in his Cessna plane to tell Nancy that he had seen a flying saucer up there – such a relaxing thought for us while his fingers hovered over the nuclear codes.
Shirley has not seen an actual alien herself, unlike the friend she says was "hoovered up" by a passing craft while sitting in a hot tub, but it is only a matter of time. One among so many mysteries is exactly how the $25m will be claimed, possibly the likeliest answer being that one of her captors will beam down to Texas and introduce itself with the time-honoured C-movie line, "Take me to your leading loss adjustor". Another is whether any alien life form has insured itself against mistakenly abducting MacLaine. If not, it can only be because it cannot afford the sky-high premiums.