Bones K. McMillington

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McMillington poses for a publicity photo with two gentlemen.

“As a skeleton, he achieved more than any could. As a man, he achieved more than any willed. Man has benefited more from Mr. McMillington than perhaps he will ever know, but that matters not, for I know that he would not care for such vindication. He was a simple man and he took pleasure in the world around him. I never recalled seeing him without a smile on his face.”

~ Henry Newbolt on McMillington's eulogy

Bones K. "Skeleton" McMillington (October 31, 1880 – December 3, 1936 ?) was a writer, journalist, silent film actor, and entrepreneur who was most widely known for his collective essays "The Calls from Across the Field." McMillington was notorious for his social life, as well as being born without skin or muscle tissue.

Birth and Early Life[edit]

Kenneth McMillington was a successful businessman who had amassed a majority of his wealth in snatching up unclaimed farmland during the turmoil of the American Civil War and its aftermath. Taking his fortune, he retired at the early age of twenty-three in 1876 to upstate New York. Despite some controversy over the way that he obtained his wealth, Kenneth became a welcomed member of his community and was quite well-respected. Shortly after moving to New York, McMillington began courting Debra Cabbert, the daughter of former senator Nicolai Cabbert. On May 23, 1878, the two were wed in a private ceremony. A little over one year later, the couple announced that Mrs. Cabbert-McMillington was expecting a child.

On October 31, 1880, after a delivery which reportedly lasted for over twenty-four hours, Debra Cabbert-McMillington gave birth to her first child. Immediately, it was apparent that the child had a condition. The boy was born without skin, muscle-fibers, or any apparent organs. It was expected that he would not survive the night. Despite the baby's condition, the child seemed to be doing rather well, and the nurses later described him as "playful" and "filled with wonder." Kenneth, perhaps under the belief that the child would not survive for much longer, gave him the name "Bones." In interviews later in life, Kenneth would express regret over not giving his son a more respectable name.

Aside from some teasing by his friends and playmates, Bones McMillington led a fairly normal childhood. He was able to attend school with the other children, in spite of his condition. Though his teachers felt that he had an above-average intelligence, they quickly noted that Bones had difficulty concentrating on many subjects, and would often ignore them altogether. Perhaps this is what influenced Bones to drop out of school before receiving his diploma. At the age of sixteen, Bones set out to travel the world.

Travels and Writing[edit]

After the young McMillington's exodus from his home state of New York, he traveled to Europe, where he spent two years attempting to find his calling. It was at this time McMillington was introduced to many prominent writers and philosophers of the era. His charm and gentle temperament won him many friendships in his short time in Europe. Particularly, he developed a close relationship with Lewis Carroll, who was the one who convinced Bones to try his hand at writing.

McMillington took the suggestion to heart as he traveled back to the United States. This is when he began work on his essays, which would ultimately accumulate into "The Calls from Across the Field." In these writings he detailed thoughts and opinions on a wide variety of subjects from the socio-political standings of prominent states to his favorite types of food, including an entire chapter of short essays dedicated to the cooking that he encountered during his stay in Paris.

After traveling to California, Bones started working at a short-lived newspaper out of San Francisco called The Bay Trumpet. Though the paper only lasted a few short years, with McMillington's writings only appearing in 1906, the final year of publication, these articles are still widely lauded by literary critics as being the finest in McMillington's bibliography. With the death of The Bay Trumpet, McMillington decided it was time to return to his home state of New York, settling in a newly built tenement building just outside of modern day Times Square on Broadway.

"The Lost Years"[edit]

Described by analysts of McMillington's life as "the Lost Years," the era of the writer's life between 1910 and 1925 is still widely debated among many historians. During this time, McMillington's writing became infrequent, only publishing the occasional short essay and a few novellas. This time is also categorized by McMillington's widely discussed social life. He was known as being a man who enjoyed drinking and festivities, and if ever a large party was held in Manhattan, he would most likely attend, nevermind who was holding the event, or if he was invited. McMillington quickly became known for his wild, unruly behavior at such parties, such as throwing rotted vegetables at passersby and often provoking strangers to fight him.

Little else is known about these years, due to McMillington's evasion of public interviews and the secretive ways he conducted himself, even with his closest friends. It was widely reported that McMillington engaged in activities with an Irish gang, led by Peter "Brash" McEnroy. Though the connection is often taken as fact today, there has never been any evidence of Bones being involved with the gang. The earliest records of such all seem to stem from the folk song "Bones a'Here," which makes many unsubstantiated claims about McMillington's life.

It was in these years that McMillington began his courtship of Denise Billingsley, a notorious party-goer and socialite herself. Much of the relationship would not come to light until Billingsley published her autobiography. Though many reported that the two seemed very much in love, it was clear that McMillington's drunken antics was forcing a wide tear in the relationship, often publicly debasing and humiliating Billingsley. The two appeared to separate sometime in 1921. McMillington would later express much regret over the break-up. Near the end of his life, in a candid interview with the New York Post, he would state that he always intended to marry Billingsley and that he considered his failure to do so the biggest mistake of his life.

Political Dreams[edit]

In the later years of his life, McMillington completely abandoned his writings, and focused on politics. He had become somewhat enamored by politics ever since befriending a small-town mayor in California, who he claimed opened his eye-sockets to the fascinating world of the political scene. Though having very little experience or expertise on the subject, McMillington entered the gubernatorial race for New York in 1923. Despite gaining a respectable amount of support with Manhattan business-owners, McMillington's wild and unruly past came back to haunt him, with his opponents often calling back to his rambunctious behavior. He lost the election by a landslide.

McMillington would try once again in 1929, but ultimately lose once more. These losses, coupled with the loss of his one true love seemed to fuel McMillington's depression, and seemed to play a major impact in his decline.

Decline and Disappearance[edit]

His political ambitions a failure, McMillington fell into a deep depression in his final years. Despite support from his family and friends, including future New York governor Nelson Rockefeller, it was quite clear that McMillington was not the man he once was. In 1930, the skeleton retreated to a private home in the New York countryside, where he binged on many mind-altering drugs. Though many tried to intervene in his self-destruction, it appeared that things were beyond repair. His facial bones would often appear dull and yellowish, and his joints would creak in a way that seemed to display the addled pain of a man beyond his years.

The last report of anyone ever seeing McMillington occurred December 3, 1936. At a local service station, a clerk recalled seeing McMillington park his car near the door. He got out and walked over to an ice chest, where he paid for and took a bottle of Coca-Cola. He then by his car, staring out onto the fading sunset, sipping quietly on the drink, as if pondering what he was going to do next. Although the employee was concerned about the man, he decided it was best to leave him be. Once the final beams of sunlight became blocked by the trees ahead, McMillington left his empty bottle on the ground near the wall and proceeded to enter his car and drive back in the direction he came from.

McMillington's disappearance became a nationwide sensation. There were many conflicting reports from people claiming to have seen him near their residence, but none were ever proven. The state of New York would declare McMillington dead one year later, but the mysteries surrounding his disappearance did not subside. Even today, McMillington or his remains are widely reported to be found, often striking similarities to the legends of Elvis or Big Foot. The events surrounding McMillington's life after 1936 will perhaps forever remain unknown.


  • One of the most common theories surrounding McMillington's vanishing conclude that he became lost in the vast forest surrounding his home, perhaps suicidal or just under the influence of mind-altering substances.
  • Some argue that McMillington could still be alive, as being a skeleton would prevent him from suffering many of the effects of aging/mortality that most people have.
  • The gang-related rumors often lead to suggestions that perhaps Brash McEnroy could have been involved with the disappearance.
  • Another argument is made that perhaps McMillington was murdered for what some have interpreted as communist sympathies in one of the essays from his book.
  • Perhaps a more romantic theory is that McMillington fled his old life, and created a new identity for himself. Several individuals matching McMillington's unusual description have been seen from time to time.


Today, images of McMillington are often associated with Halloween, which happens to fall upon his birthday. Despite his life being cut tragically short, McMillington's influence has managed to spread all over the United States, and his legacy will remain forever.