FOI request reveals FBI celebrity files

A freedom of information request by the Associated Press (AP) has uncovered thousands of files on celebrities held by the FBI. The AP asked the bureau for its "High Visibility Memorandum" files which include details of celebrities, criminals, rock stars, athletes and artists. The bulk of the material concentrates on the supposed Communist threat in the 1950s.

The files include:
  • John Lennon: An FBI informant commented that although Lennon "appears to be radically orientated," he "does not give the impression he is a true revolutionist, since he is constantly under the influence of narcotics."
  • Albert Einstein: Tabs were kept on Einstein for decades because of concerns over the physicist's alleged links with Communists. FBI files indicate that Einstein was a member, sponsor or affiliated with 34 so-called Communist fronts between 1937 and 1954, and honorary chairman of three Communist organisations.
  • Bud Abbott: Investigated by the FBI after the LAPD reported that the comedy partner of Lou Costello had "1,500 reels of obscene motion pictures, which he shows in his home where he has a projector of his own." Abbott was ultimately cleared of anything illegal.
  • Liberace: FBI agents sought permission to interview Liberace about an extortion attempt, according to a memo whose subject was labeled "Compromise and Extortion of Homosexuals". His betting habits were also monitored through phone-tapping operations which recorded Liberace making "long-distance bets with ... Buffalo bookies for several years. Liberace is alleged to bet from $40 to $60 dollars to win on each horse he bets."
  • Marilyn Monroe: In 1962, Monroe travelled to Mexico for a holiday arranged by Frank Sinatra. Once there, she "associated closely with certain members of the American Communist Group in Mexico," according to an FBI report.
FBI's dirt on celeb world [Requires free registration] (New York Post, 21 September 2005).