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FBI files on Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe have been found and re-issued, revealing the names of some of the movie star’s communist-leaning acquaintances who drew concern from government officials, including a notable trip to Mexico.
The FBI files, which were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, show the extent the agency was monitoring Monroe for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962.
The record reveal some in Monroe’s inner circle were concerned about her association with Frederick Vanderbilt Field, who was disinherited from his wealthy family over his leftist views.
A trip to Mexico earlier that year to shop for furniture brought Monroe in contact with Field, who was living in the country with his wife in self-imposed exile. Informants reported to the FBI that a “mutual infatuation” had developed between Field and Monroe, which caused concern among some in her inner circle, including her therapist, the files state.
“The situation caused considerable dismay among Miss Monroe’s entourage and also among the (American Communist Group in Mexico),” the file states. It includes references to an interior decorator who worked with Monroe’s analyst reporting her connection to Field to the doctor.
Field’s autobiography devotes an entire chapter to Monroe’s Mexico trip, titled “An Indian Summer Interlude.” He mentions that he and his wife accompanied Monroe on shopping trips and meals. He only mentions politics once in a passage regarding their dinnertime conversations.
“She talked mostly about herself and some of the people who had been or still were important to her,” Field wrote in “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 (FBI director) J. Edgar Hoover.”
Under Hoover’s watch, the FBI kept tabs on the political and social lives of many celebrities, including Monroe’s ex-husband Arthur Miller. The FBI had reported that it had transferred the files to a National Archives facility in Maryland, but archivists said the documents had not been received. A few months after requesting details on the transfer, the FBI released an updated version of the files that eliminate dozens of redactions.
Monroe's file begins in 1955 and mostly focuses on her travels and associations, searching for signs of leftist views and possible ties to communism. For all the focus on Monroe's closeness to suspected communists, the bureau never found any proof she was a member of the 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," said a July 1962 entry in Monroe's file states.
The files, which previously had been heavily redacted, do not contain any new information about Monroe's death 50 years ago. Letters and news clippings included in the file show the bureau was aware of theories the actress had been killed, but they do not show that any effort was undertaken to investigate the claims. Los Angeles authorities concluded Monroe's death was a probable 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 noted that the FBI files were "heavily censored."
Monroe's ties to Mexico go beyond the re-issued files. The Miami Herald previously reported the star's last lover may have been Jose Bolanos, a Mexican movie actor and director. Describing their relationship in 1992, then 60-ish Bolanos said, "The golden one...I never found another one like her." He died in Mexico City in 1994.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.