The FBI has an image. The clean-cut, dark-suit, sunglass, earpiece. The ones who are called in to help local police or when there is a serious crime.
It’s an image the agency has created from its inception by J. Edgar Hoover. But, whether for Hoover’s political gain or investigative purposes, the agency has gone beyond its initial scope on occasion. Hoover used the FBI to harass and bully any potential threats. The agency has used the newest technology to track, investigate and watch seemingly anyone it chooses.
Those in Hollywood are no exception.
The FBI targeted magazines that printed gossip about Hoover’s personal life. Then moved on to potential communists during the “Red Scare.” Now, the FBI seems to investigate any statement that comes its way or anybody in the national spotlight.
Even the so-called squeaky-clean seem to have found themselves under the FBI’s microscope. Celebrities such as Bob Hope, Helen Keller and John Travolta found themselves within FBI’s files.
The following 8-part series looks at the celebrities who found themselves in the FBI crosshairs, why and some jaw-dropping allegations about their personal lives.
Many of the files are available for public consumption through the FBI Vault.
Some investigations turned out to be warranted with criminal charges and convictions. Others seem nothing more than to harass and intimidate. Here are the FBI files of Hollywood from A-Z.
The legendary boxer known as Muhammad Ali, and Cassius Clay before he changed his name, found himself at the center of a lengthy FBI file. Hundreds of pages detail the agency’s investigation into the boxer — mostly because of his ties to the Nation of Islam.
One of the earliest investigations focuses on Clay’s draft status and whether there could be a trial to force him to fight in the Vietnam War!
Another case details how Cay told those in attendance at a mosque how the “White man” was trying to take his title away. He added that Muslims did not want to fight anyone, white or black. The information was given to the FBI by an informant who was present at the discussion.
Even as the FBI looked at him for years, agents noted he could bring harassment charges against them and he was only be investigated from an intelligence standpoint not as a threat to national security.
BURNS & ALLEN
The beloved comedy couple came under FBI fire when an agency informant doing time in Alcatraz accused them of being junkies. A 1933 report to Hoover says that, after Customs officials raided the stars’ home. “Certain narcotics were found.
“Both Burns and Allen use narcotics and this is the reason Gracie wears long sleeves all the time…” Burns and fellow funnyman Jack Benny were also charged and convicted of smuggling some “hot” jewelry into the country.
And when Gracie insisted her husband and Benny had simply bought the baubles from a friend at New York’s 21 Club, the FBI wrote her up as being “just as guilty in the smuggling case as George Burns.”
- The FBI's Hollywood Files from A-Z: John Lennon, Liberace and JFK find themselves the targets of agents
- The FBI's Hollywood Files from A-Z: Why are Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Mickey Mantle in investigations?
- The FBI's Hollywood Files from A-Z: Why Judy Garland, Patty Hearst and Michael Jackson appear in cases
A declassified FBI exposes a life-threatening 1994 letter allegedly sent by John F. Kennedy Jr. to Joe Biden! The scandalous handwritten note was postmarked from Worcester, Massachusetts. — not far from the Kennedys’ famed Hyannis Port stomping grounds — and landed on the then-Delaware Senator’s desk at the U.S. Capitol.
“Dear Sen. Biden,” the Aug. 26 letter stated, “You are traitor… You must die.” Understandably alarmed, the future president contacted the United States Capitol Police. According to secret FBI files, special agents retrieved both the letter and envelope and had the “specimens” analyzed.
The letter appeared to be a response to a controversial bill that Biden authored that greatly expanded police departments and prisons and also banned a variety of guns. The mysterious sender of the “JFK Jr.” letter did not agree with the Senator.
According to the declassified documents, the FBI examined the letter and envelope — evidence labeled “Q1” and “Q2” ---- and found four fingerprints.
“There are no suspects at this time wherein talent comparisons can be made,” the file stated. But JFK Jr., at least could be ruled out. Biden received no additional threats, and JFK Jr. was never questioned in connection with the crime.
Not even the lovable “I Love Lucy" star was immune from the long arm of the FBI. Evidence gathered by the agency through letters and investigations claimed Lucy was a member of the Central Committee for the Communist party. In fact, she DID vote as a Communist from 1936 to 1938—to please her grandfather.
Six CIA plots to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro failed. According to a declassified FBI report, killing JFK was Castro’s payback. “The plot to knock off Castro began as part of the Bay of Pigs,” the report states. By the time exiled Cuban forces invaded the island on April 17, 1961, the Cuban dictator was supposed to be dead — killed by a CIA agent armed with a “special poison capsule” he’d use to lace Castro’s food.
But that’s not what happened. “Just about the right time for the plot to have been carried out, a report out of Havana said Castro was ill,” the informant stated. As a result, he was never poisoned. And the invasion force was decimated.
The CIA tried again, tripling the dosage, but their contact in Cuba went missing — and so did the pill. The files also disclose other assassination attempts involving mercenary snipers who were ultimately captured and tortured.
According to the informant, Castro stated: “If that was the way President Kennedy wanted it… I too can engage in the same tactics.” The informant also revealed that Castro dispatched hit squads to the U.S. to kill Kennedy.
JFK was killed nine months later, on Nov. 22, 1963. Asked if he believed Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, the informant laughed and shook his head. Castro died at age 90 on Nov. 25, 2016 — three days after the 53rd anniversary of JFK’s death.
Late in 1978, the FBI uncovered a bizarre threat to assassinate the entertainment giants — including John Wayne, Johnny Carson and Bob Hope — by a person known as Unsub (unidentified subject). The mystery man said if the three stars didn’t speak out publicly against corrupt government, poverty, crime and drug abuse, they “would be taken care of.”
But, in an even stranger twist, an accomplice got cold feet and informed the Hollywood trio — then spilled his guts to FBI investigators!
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