We know Marilyn Monroe the actress and Marilyn Monroe the sex symbol, but previously redacted FBI files obtained by the Associated Press now reveal a different side: Marilyn Monroe, suspected communist.
Yes, the beauty — like many in Hollywood during the late 50s and early 60s — was under the watchful eye of J. Edgar Hoover's organization for her leftist tendencies. And so was Arthur Miller. New details are available after the FBI removed redactions and the AP got a hold of a version of her file through the Freedom of Information Act. Anthony McCartney of the AP writes Friday that informants reported on the actress' late-in-life "mutual infatuation" with the self-exiled leftist Frederick Vanderbilt Field, whom she associated with while in Mexico in 1962 for a furniture shopping trip. No one seemed to like this relationship. The file said: "This situation caused considerable dismay among Miss Monroe's entourage and also among the (American Communist Group in Mexico)."
The AP released a photo of one page from the FBI that comes from the file of (one of) Monroe's husband(s), the playwright Arthur Miller, including information on an anonymous tip to the New York Daily News in 1956 that claimed that Miller was a "CP" member and the group's "cultural front man." The fact that Miller and Monore were married in a religious ceremony was described as "cover up" and Monroe had "drifted into the Communist orbit." Money from Marilyn Monroe Productions was "finding its way into the CP" and the production company was "filled with Communists."
Take a look:
Now mind you it's unsurprising that Miller—who wrote The Crucible, an allegory for the McCarthy era—would be wrapped up in all of this. The Guardian's obituary for the playwright noted that Monroe "risked her own — always precarious — Hollywood career by going with Miller to Washington to speak in his favour at the contempt hearings; her intervention helped to keep him out of prison." In 1956 Allen Drury of the New York Times reported that at a House Committee on Un-American Activities hearing Miller "disclosed...a past filled with Communist-front associations and a future filled with Marilyn Monroe."
It should be noted that, per the AP, a 1962 entry in the file shows that no one ever proved Monroe was a Communist: "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."
You can skim Monroe and other celebrity files at the FBI's "Vault."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.