Hurkos, Peter

Hurkos, Peter (1911–1988)

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Peter Hurkos was born Pieter Cornelis van der Hurk. He was born in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, on May 21, 1911. He was a sickly child and a poor student at school. He ran away from home at fourteen and—since he was nearly six feet tall and looked eighteen—managed to sign on as a cook’s assistant on a ship. On one of his home leaves he met a Ducth girl named Bea van der Berg, fell in love and they married. They had a son, Benny, and a daughter, named Bea after her mother.

On July 10, 1941, when he was thirty, Hurkos was working with his father as a house painter, painting a four-story building on The Hague, when he fell nearly forty feet from a ladder. He landed on his head and shoulders, breaking his shoulder and fracturing his skull. He was unconscious for four days in the Zuidwal Hospital. When he recovered he found that he had psychic abilities. He knew things about people simply by touching something they had handled (psychometry).

During World War II, Hurkos worked for the Dutch Resistance movement. That was when he changed his name to Peter Hurkos, which was a Hungarian name. He was caught with forged papers by the Germans, and sent to Vught concentration camp, which was comparable to the notorious Buchenwald camp. When the war ended he was decorated by Queen Juliana of The Netherlands. Hurkos began demonstrating his psychic abilities, giving performances in theaters in order to get money to live. He and his family drifted apart and eventually he and Bea divorced. Hurkos left Holland for Belgium and then Paris, France. He also spent time in Spain, where he did readings for Generalissimo Franco. By this time Hurkos had remarried, though the marriage did not last long. He was later married, for a third time, to Stephany Courtney.

In 1956, psychical researcher Andrija Puharich took him to the United States, where he was tested for two and a half years by the Round Table Foundation, in Glen Cove, Maine. It was Henry Belk, a chain store magnate, who put up the money to bring him to America. Hurkos did amazingly well and Puharich continued his research over a period of seven years. Using his psychometric powers, Hurkos was able to help police in many states to reconstruct crimes. Cases in which his expertise was called for included the Boston Strangler case, Sharon Tate murders, Ann Arbor Coed murders, the missing Thai Silk King Jim Thompson, and the stolen Stone of Scone in England. He is said to have worked with the FBI, CIA, INTERPOL, and INTERTEL. He was decorated by Pope Pius XII.

In later years, he worked in Hollywood with many movie actors and actresses. He made numerous radio and television appearances and had more than fifteen hours in prime time television specials. He also appeared in a number of motion pictures as himself. He died on June 1, 1988, in Los Angeles.


Browning, Norma Lee: The Psychic World of Peter Hurkos. New York: Doubleday, 1970
Wilson, Colin: The Supernatural: Mysterious Powers. London: Aldus Books, 1975
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