Thursday, 27 November 2014


"“She told us about her strong feelings for civil rights, for black equality, as well as her admiration for what was being done in China, her anger at red-baiting and McCarthyism and her hatred of J Edgar Hoover.”"

Was Marilyn Monroe secret communist?  

SCREEN goddess Marilyn Monroe was scrutinised by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation for suspected communist sympathies in the months before her death.

Files newly released by the FBI reveal her circle of close friends were concerned about her friendship with a wealthy socialite known for his socialist views. The actress spoke of her admiration for activities in China and her anger at the McCarthy era witch hunt against suspected communist sympathisers in Hollywood. FBI agents also noted that Monroe had spoken about her hatred of FBI chief J Edgar Hoover. The FBI files, which were released under a Freedom of Information Act inquiry in the US, do not contain any new information that might shed further light on her suspicious death in August 1962. It has long been accepted that Monroe took an overdose of pills, but conspiracy theorists have speculated for 50 years about the involvement of the Kennedy family. Monroe was a former lover of President John F Kennedy and his brother Bobby.
Suspicion has lingered that Monroe, who died at 36, was somehow deliberately drugged.

However, the files reveal for the first time that the FBI, which monitored the lives of many Hollywood celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, was worried about her increasing leanings towards the left.

They first began monitoring her after the success of her 1955 film Seven Year Itch, which made the actress into the world’s greatest sex symbol.

Their concern was prompted by a friendship with Frederick Vanderbilt Field, great-great-grandson of the US railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, who was disinherited by his wealthy family for his leftist views.

Field had fled to Mexico rather than face arrest for suspected communist sympathies. Monroe met him during a shopping trip to the country to buy furniture and the FBI was tipped off about a “mutual infatuation” that had developed between the couple.

The FBI files say: “This situation caused considerable dismay among Miss Monroe’s entourage and also among the American Communist Group in Mexico.”

The file also revealed that Monroe had tried to get a visa to visit Russia, along with other stars.

It also contains several news stories and references to Norman Mailer’s biography of the actress, Marilyn, which focused on questions about whether she had been murdered by the US government.

Shortly before her death, however, FBI chiefs wrote that there was no clear evidence that she was a communist sympathiser or a member of the Communist Party.

“Subject’s views are very positively and concisely leftist; however, if she is being actively used by the Communist Party, it is not general knowledge among those working with the movement in Los Angeles,” an entry in Monroe’s FBI file in July 1962 states.

When the files were obtained by The Associated Press earlier this year, it asked for the removal of redactions as part of a series of stories for the 50th anniversary of her death.

The unredacted files reveal just how assiduously the FBI was monitoring the actress for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962.

Monroe’s file was opened in 1955, focusing on her travels and associations and looking for any signs of left wing views.
The entry concerning intelligence that Monroe and other entertainers requested visas to visit the USSR that year had originally been almost completely blocked out.

Her friends became concerned for her after she met Field, who was living in Mexico with his wife.

His autobiography says he and his wife accompanied Monroe on shopping trips and meals, but he only mentions politics once during a passage about dinnertime conversations.

“She talked mostly about herself and some of the people who had been or still were important to her,” he wrote in the book, which is called From Right to Left.

“She told us about her strong feelings for civil rights, for black equality, as well as her admiration for what was being done in China, her anger at red-baiting and McCarthyism and her hatred of J Edgar Hoover.”

Other celebrities on the FBI’s watch lists included Charlie Chaplin and Monroe’s former husband Arthur Miller.

It was also involved in investigations about crimes against celebrities, including threats made against Elizabeth Taylor and an extortion case involving Clark Gable.

For many years, the FBI files on Monroe have intrigued investigators, biographers and others who are not convinced that her death at her Los Angeles home was a genuine suicide.

A 1982 investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office found no evidence of foul play after reviewing all available investigative records, but it noted that the FBI files had been “heavily censored”.

Those words intrigued the man who performed Monroe’s autopsy, Dr Thomas Noguchi.

While the investigation found that he conducted a thorough autopsy, Noguchi has conceded that no one will ever really know all the details of Monroe’s death.

The FBI files and confidential interviews conducted with the actress’s friends that have never been made public might help, he wrote in his 1983 memoir, Coroner.

“On the basis of my own involvement in the case, beginning with the autopsy, I would call Monroe’s suicide ‘very probable’,” Noguchi wrote.

“But I also believe that until the complete FBI files are made public and the notes and interviews of the suicide panel released, controversy will continue to swirl around her death.”

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