The new film The Catcher Was A Spy is based on the life of Moe Berg, a former professional baseball player who became a spy for the U.S. government. His story is not unique. Berg is just one of several celebrities who joined the espionage game to help his country, particularly during World War II.
Many famous spies took risks to collect enemy intelligence. Some of these men and women were spies before they became stars, while others smuggled intel, tracked Nazi sympathizers, and monitored anarchists in the prime of their careers. People like Berg were ideally suited to uncover secret information. Some of them even had effective methods for gathering intelligence.
Disclaimer: The celebrities mentioned in this article were chosen based on research from multiple sources, but it is very well possible that we will never know the real truth about what happened.
Frank Sinatra Secretly Smuggled People on His Private Jet
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Legendary crooner Frank Sinatra was known for songs such as “My Way,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Strangers in the Night.” He also had ties to the mafia. However, did you know he purportedly worked with the CIA? There is no definitive proof that he was a spy, but according to his daughter Tina, the singer did favors for the agency by acting as a secret courier. He not only smuggled documents, but he also smuggled people, which made him a human trafficker. It wasn’t a challenge because Sinatra often flew around the world on private chartered jets. During these cross-Atlantic flights, he would covertly transport those who needed to get someplace in secret without leaving a trail.
Julia Child Worked on an Underwater Explosives Program Before Becoming a Chef
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Before Julia Child started churning out delicious French cuisine, she had a government job. She was too tall at six-feet, two inches to enlist in the Women’s Army Corp, so she applied for a job at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a precursor to the CIA. She was asked to help in developing a repellent to prevent sharks and other creatures from setting off underwater explosives targeting German U-Boats. She also had assignments in China and Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka). Julia fell in love with colleague Paul Cushing Child, and they wed in 1946. She left the agency, and Paul started working at the U.S. Information Agency in France. Julia began to cook to pass the time.
Illusionist Harry Houdini was Much More Than an Escape Artist
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Harry Houdini, history’s most famous escape artist, used his incredible talent to aid Allied forces, the U.S. Secret Service, and Scotland Yard. He would often visit police stations around the world and insist on being locked up so he could impress authorities with his fantastic escape abilities. What they didn’t realize was he was simultaneously gathering valuable information about them. British spy William Melville was employed at Scotland Yard when the performer reportedly started working for the agency and referred to Houdini several times in his journal. Houdini also used his work as a cover—when he traveled on tour to perform his incredible stunts and escape acts he also monitored Russian anarchists.
Chuck Barris: An Assassin Who Killed 34 Russian Agents
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Chuck Barris was born to a Jewish family in Philadelphia in 1929. He is best known as an American game show host who also created gaming shows like The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. His autobiography ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’ reveals that his life was nothing short of legendary. George Clooney later made a movie based on this work.
In his biography, he disclosed that he worked as an assassin for the CIA in the 1960s and 70s. He claimed to have killed more than 34 Russian Agents over his tenure in the agency. However, the Central Intelligence Agency has denied his involvement in their work. In fact, even Barris went on to call this part of his autobiography ‘a piece of imagination.’
Author Ian Fleming’s Spy Work Inspired James Bond
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You probably guest that the writer who came up with the character of James Bond was a spy in real life. Ian Fleming worked for British Naval Intelligence during World War II. He served as a liaison between the British Admiralty and intelligence officers who were assigned to sabotaging the enemy. Fleming was also instrumental in helping to create the U.S. intelligence agency known as the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). His first 007 book, Casino Royale, featured an incident he witnessed involving the Japanese Consul General’s office at Rockefeller Center in which British operatives broke in and made copies of Japanese code books.
The FBI Believed Actress Marlene Dietrich was a Nazi Spy
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FBI files revealed in 2002 that German actress Marlene Dietrich was long believed to be a spy who left Nazi Germany to expand her film career in the United States. She became an American citizen in 1939 and renounced her German citizenship. FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover was suspicious of the star, and his agents followed her every move. The agency was unable to substantiate suspicions that she was a Nazi spy. In 1944, Dietrich agreed to gather intelligence for America. While entertaining U.S. troops she also participated in “collecting observations about subversive activities in Europe.” Unfortunately, some of her FBI files were destroyed in 1980, so it’s unclear what specific information she contributed to the American cause.
Audrey Hepburn Joined the Dutch Revolution
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Audrey Hepburn was one of the most respected names in the Hollywood film industry. She was an actress, a dancer and a humanitarian. In fact, the American Film Institute even went on to call her the third-greatest female screen legend in Golden Age Hollywood. People remember her most for her successful movies like Roman Holidays (1953) and Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961). The former got her an Academy Award, a BAFTA and even a Golden Globe.
However, not many know, but she joined the Dutch resistance when she was merely 14 years old. She used to put on dance performances to raise funds for the fight against the Nazis in World War II. Rumor has it that she even transported secret messages.
George H. W. Bush was Director of the CIA
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George H.W. Bush was the 41st president of the United States (not to be confused with the 43rd President George W Bush).
Not many know, but he also served as a Director of Central Intelligence for a short tenure of 357 days. He headed the CIA from January 30, 1976, to January 20, 1977. At the time, the Church Committee was investigating CIA’s involvement in illegal and unauthorized activities. President Gerald Ford appointed him as the Director of Central Intelligence as he believed that would restore the agency’s morale. During his tenure as the DCI, he would give national security briefings to President Jimmy Carter.
Actor Cary Grant Sought to Expose Nazi Sympathizers in Hollywood
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Cary Grant (North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief) was a heartthrob in 1940s Hollywood, but he was also spying on fellow actors. During World War II he kept his eyes on stars such as Errol Flynn and Gary Cooper, who was suspected of being Nazi sympathizers. Grant worked as a British intelligence operative and donated his paychecks from two of his films to British Forces. The FBI also reportedly hired him to spy on his second wife, Woolworth’s heiress Barbara Hutton, who was suspected of financially supporting the Nazis. Grant’s work didn’t go unnoticed. In 1947 he received the Kings Medal for Services in the Cause of Freedom.
Moe Berg’s Baseball Card Is on Display at the CIA Headquarters for a Reason
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Primary league baseball back-up catcher Morris “Moe” Berg also had a law degree and spoke seven languages, including German and Japanese, which made him an asset in the spy business. After retiring from baseball in 1942, he joined the OSS’s Secret Intelligence Branch. Berg collected information about Nazi atomic-power experiments in German-occupied Norway. Berg was reportedly involved in a plot to assassinate Nazi atom-bomb research program director and physicist Werner Heisenberg, but the former baseballer concluded the probability of a Nazi atomic bomb being developed shortly was minor, so the execution was called off. Berg is the only major league player to have a baseball card on display in Langley, Va., at the CIA headquarters.
Ernest Hemingway was Part of the OSS
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Ernest Hemingway is one of the greatest American novelists who has profoundly influenced the 20th Century Fiction. The 1954 Nobel Literature Prize winner also worked as an ambulance driver in World War I.
If we believe the words of Nicholas Reynolds (ex-CIA spy), then Hemmingway might have been recruited by NKVD in 1940. The Soviets tasked Hemmingway with passing on political information to them. However, no substantial information ever made its way through him. Additionally, he also spied for the OSS (1940 version of the CIA). His biographer believes that the dual allegiance might have been a reason for his suicide in 1961. He shot himself with his favorite shotgun that he got access to by unlocking the basement’s storeroom.
Anderson Cooper Worked With the CIA
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Anderson Cooper is probably the most prominent journalists in the country. He hosts his news show Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN.
In his early days in the Yale University, Anderson spent his summer interning for the CIA in Virginia. He never pursued a career with the agency after finding a new passion for journalism. However, some experts believe that he is still associated with the CIA. CIA has been accused of feeding content to the mainstream media that is relevant to their narrative. The agency’s project mockingbird, for instance, infiltrated mainstream media to feed those stories for ‘national security’ purposes.
John Le Carré was an MI6
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Many know John Le Carré for his 1963 novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Spies have been the protagonists in many of his other works as well.
However, it was during a TV interview when the award-winning novelist left the world surprised. He admitted that he started working for the secret service when he was just 16 years old. He then went on to become a senior undercover operative in West Germany when the Cold War was at its peak. He joined MI5 full time after his teaching days at Eton and was then transferred to the MI6. He spent several years in Western Germany in deep undercover.
Author Roald Dahl Indulged in Romanic Liaisons to Gather Intelligence
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Roald Dahl is famous for writing books such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. However, before he wrote these beloved children’s tales, he spied on the United States on behalf of British Intelligence. In 1942, Dahl worked at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. His assignment was getting cozy with powerful, wealthy women. His goal was to persuade them to advocate for Britain’s interests during World War II. Interestingly, his romantic liaisons with congressman Clare Boothe Luce, whose husband published Time magazine, became so heated, Dahl asked British Intelligence to relieve him of duty. His persistence worked, and he garnered support for the British cause while also collecting valuable information for his government.
Tennis Ace Alice Marble Overcame Personal Tragedy to Help America
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Alice Marble won 18 Grand Slam titles and was once America’s number-one tennis player. No one knew until after her death that she risked her life as a spy. Marble’s husband was killed in action in Germany during World War II. Days earlier, she had a miscarriage, and upon hearing of her husband’s death, she attempted suicide. While recuperating, she was asked to spy for U.S. intelligence. She was tasked with reconnecting with an ex-lover, a Swiss banker, to gather Nazi financial data. During the mission, she was nearly killed after she was shot in the back by a Nazi official. She told her story in Courting Danger: My Adventures in World-Class Tennis, Golden-Age Hollywood, and High-Stakes Spying.
Entertainer Josephine Baker Smuggled Intel in her Sheet Music & Underwear
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Josephine Baker was not only a famous dancer and singer— but she also worked for the French resistance during World War II. Baker attended many parties as an entertainer and gathered information about German troop locations. She rubbed elbows with all sorts of people, including high-ranking Japanese and Italian officials. She was so beloved; no one suspected the sheet music she carried while traveling for her work contained notes in invisible ink from gathering intelligence. Baker also smuggled notes by pinning them inside her underwear and later relaying them to France’s military intelligence. After the war ended, she was awarded the Croix de Guerre and was named a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.
Actor Sterling Hayden Helped the Resistance but was Later Tied to Communism
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Sterling Hayden appeared in films such as The Godfather, Dr. Strangelove, and The Asphalt Jungle. Before his big-screen success, he worked as a marine for the OSS during World War II. Hayden provided guns and other supplies to a resistance movement in Yugoslavia. He also parachuted into Croatia to spy on Fascist activities. His spy work in the Balkans and the Mediterranean earned him a Silver Star, America’s third-highest combat medal. Hayden was also awarded a Bronze Arrowhead for parachuting behind enemy lines. After the war, he joined the Communist Party for a short time, which he later regretted. He confessed his communist ties to the House Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare.
Walt Disney was an FBI Informant
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In November 1940, animator and producer Walt Disney, known for creating Mickey Mouse and films such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio, started working as an informant for the FBI. He did so until his death in 1966, but his secret work was kept hidden for more than 50 years. Disney worked for the FBI’s Los Angeles office and was tasked with collecting information about communists in Hollywood. Names from classified documents disclosed in the 1990s were redacted, so it’s unclear whom he reported to the bureau, although some may have been his studio animators. Disney was also pals with FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Actor Christopher Lee is Forbidden from Detailing His Spy Activities
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English character actor Christopher Lee is known for blockbuster films such as the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises as well as the Star Wars prequels. He also appeared in 007 film The Man with The Golden Gun. Years earlier he worked for a top-secret group that partook in espionage activities during World War II. His role in the agency is classified, and he explained in a 2011 interview: “I was attached to the Special Air Service from time to time, but we are forbidden—former, present, or future—to discuss any specific operations. Let’s say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read into it what they like.”
Author John Steinbeck Volunteered to Work With the CIA
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American novelist John Steinbeck wrote classics such as East of Eden (1952), Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Grapes of Wrath (1939). Compared to 007 creator Ian Fleming, Steinbeck seems like an unlikely spy, but during the Cold War, he was tasked by Collier’s magazine to tour the Mediterranean and write articles on things that inspired him. Steinbeck thought the opportunity would enable him to spy on communists, so he wrote a letter to Walter Bedell “Beetle” Smith, the head of the CIA, who took him up on the plan. The pair met in Washington, but the details of Steinbeck’s activities are unclear. All that’s known is that every single Thursday he got “lost in and around Paris,” possibly meeting other intelligence agents.
Supreme Court Justice Arthur J. Goldberg Encouraged Resistance During WWII
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In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy appointed Arthur J. Goldberg to U.S. Secretary of Labor and Supreme Court Justice. Goldberg handled issues about civil rights and labor law. Before these appointments, Goldberg worked for the predecessor to the CIA—the Office of Strategic Services—during World War II. During the war, he stepped away from practicing law and organized an intelligence network. He worked in London with the goal of encouraging resistance. He reached out to groups and organizations to speak out and work against the Nazi party in enemy-occupied and enemy countries. Among others, he reached out to a leftist labor group in France, dissidents in Hungary, and anti-Vichyites in French North Africa.
Filmmaker John Ford was a Secret Agent
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Director and multiple Academy Award winner John Ford was one of the world’s most iconic filmmakers and is known for films including Stagecoach, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Grapes of Wrath. He also worked for the Office for Strategic Services during World War II. As a secret agent, Ford warned the agency that enemy Japanese were likely present in Baja, northwestern Mexico. He also produced propaganda and training films for the OSS and U.S. Navy. Among the footage, he shot was a video from “Area B” in Maryland where future CIA directors William Colby and William Casey trained. Two of Ford’s Oscars were even put on display in the CIA Exhibit Center.
Mata Hari was Executed Via Firing Squad for Being a Double Agent
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Mata Hari, born Margaretta Geertruida “Margaret” MacLeod, was a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who moved to Paris in her 20s where she became famous for her entertaining acts. Since she was a citizen of a neutral country, she was able to travel freely across borders. During World War I, French agents accused her of being a double agent for Germany. In 1917, she was arrested after French intelligence officers uncovered a coded message that suggested she was a German spy. She was accused of causing the deaths of an estimated 50,000 soldiers. French and British intelligence did not have concrete evidence against her, yet Hari was found guilty and executed by a French firing squad.
Mob Boss Lucky Luciano Used his Connections to Help America
Italian-American mobster and crime boss Charles “Lucky” Luciano was the father of organized crime. One of his territories was the shipping docks in New York City. During World War II, Naval intelligence believed the Nazis had info about Atlantic Ocean ship movements and recruited Luciano, as well as mob boss Meyer Lansky, to enlist informants from the docks. The pair delivered in a big way. Thousands of informants participated in what became known as “Operation Underworld.” Luciano also helped the Office of Strategic Services by tracking Nazi troops in Italy using his connections in Sicily. The Sicilian mafia helped Patton invade the country by eliminating snipers in his path.
Greta Garbo Aided a Man Who Developed the Atomic Bomb
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Swedish-born American film actress Greta Garbo was an international star in the mid-1920s. By the time she retired at the relatively young age of 35, she had been nominated for four Academy Awards. Her retirement coincidentally coincided with America’s entry into World War II in 1941. It’s believed she was recruited as a British spy and participated in several highly classified missions. She allegedly helped smuggled Niels Bohr, who helped develop the atomic bomb, from Copenhagen to Britain. Garbo was able to do so with the aid of Winston Churchill’s special envoy and the help of a Canadian spy named Sir William Stephenson.
Playwright Noël Coward Used His Entertaining Personality as a Cover
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English playwright Noël Coward made a name for himself with productions including Hay Fever, Private Lives, and Blithe Spirit. During World War II, he was involved in the propaganda department of the British Intelligence Service. He traveled to the United States and garnered support for the Allied cause. He also used his fame and charismatic personality to smuggle classified information to people such as President Franklin Roosevelt. Hitler so loathed him; he was placed on the Nazi Black List. Coward recalled in his diary, “I was to go on as an entertainer with an accompanist and sing my songs and on the side doing something rather hush-hush … My disguise would be my reputation as a bit of an idiot.”
Serial Killer Marcel Petiot Helped the Allies & Secretly Murdered Dozens
Marcel Petiot (full name Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot) was a Parisian doctor, spy, and a serial killer responsible for as many as 60 deaths. He was recruited by a U.S. spy agency known as the Pond. Petiot, a former mental patient, gathered intel about German military operations but also used his office for nefarious purposes. He tricked patients by telling them he’d help them travel to Argentina and gave them a “vaccine” for the trip that was cyanide. In 1943, the Gestapo suspected Petiot created a real escape route and arrested him. Less than a year later, Paris police found the remains of dozens of victims in his apartment basement. Following the war, he was tried and sentenced to death by guillotine.
Designer Coco Chanel was Never Punished For her Nazi Ties
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French fashion designer Coco Chanel collaborated with the Nazis by sharing her bed with one of them. During World War II, the Third Reich occupied France, and she had a romantic relationship with a German intelligence officer named Hans Gunther von Dincklage. The pair had something in common—their dislike of Jews. Chanel used her position to support Nazi laws that prevented Jews from owning businesses. She and her boyfriend also traveled together in Europe to recruit people to their cause. She tried to arrange a peace deal with Winston Churchill on behalf of Heinrich Himmler, but the prime minister declined. Instead, he merely sent Chanel and von Dincklage packing to Switzerland.
Boy Scouts Founder Robert Baden-Powell Became a National Hero
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Lord Robert Baden-Powell (full name Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell) was not only the founder of the Boy Scouts, but he was also a British intelligence officer. In 1899, he was an officer during the Second Boer War in South Africa. His army of 500 was hugely outnumbered by an 8,000-strong Boer army, so he incorporated espionage-like tactics to survive, including setting up fake mines and enlisting young boys to act as guards. He outlasted the Boers until British reinforcements arrived and became a national hero. He wrote My Adventures as A Spy and revealed he caught three spies by himself and once pretended to be American to get intel from the Germans. He wrote: “A good spy—no matter which country he serves—is of necessity a brave and valuable fellow.”
Hollywood Producer Arnon Milchan Worked for Israel’s Intelligence Agency
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Filmmaker Arnon Milchan is known for films such as Pretty Woman, L.A. Confidential, and 12 Years A Slave. He’s worth a whopping $6 billion US. He also once worked as an Israeli intelligence operative who brokered arms deals for the intelligence agency Lekem (or Lakam), also known as the Bureau of Scientific Relations. No longer in operation, the agency collected intelligence for its nuclear program from the late 1950s to mid-1980s. Milchan was recruited by Shimon Peres, who later became prime minister. Milchan owned 30 companies in 17 countries and helped aid in secret defense-related programs. The press dubbed him the “Chuck Norris Of The Lakam.”
Feminist Pioneer Gloria Steinem Worked for the CIA
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Gloria Steinem was a journalist and political activist who became the face of the American feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s. She protested the Vietnam War and was a champion for LGBTQ rights. She was also a CIA agent during the Cold War. Steinem was head of the Independent Research Service. She was recruited to travel to Soviet-controlled youth festivals in Austria and Finland to interject left-leaning capitalist views during the gatherings. She later defended her work for the CIA by saying that during the 1950s and 1960s the agency was comprised of “enlightened, liberal, non-partisan activists of the sort who characterized the Kennedy administration.”
Ronald Reagan’s Work as An FBI Informer was Hidden for Years
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In the late 1940s, actor and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan hit a bit of a dry spell in his career. He appeared in films including The Voice of the Turtle and That Hagen Girl but was also head of the Screen Actors Guild, offering him the ability to shake out Hollywood Communists during the “Red Scare.” FBI papers revealed in 1985 that Reagan was an informant for the agency and used the code name T-10. He and his then-wife, actress Jane Wyman, gave agents information on actors whom they thought were Communist sympathizers. Despite his role in the Red Scare, Reagan didn’t always agree with tactics used by the House Un-American Activities Committee to flush out suspected Communists.
Allen Dulles was the Director of the CIA
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Allen Welsh Dulles (1893-1969) was the first civilian Director of the Central Intelligence. He is the CIA’s longest-serving director to this day. He learned spycraft during his days as the chief of OSS in Switzerland.
He along with his team of spies played an essential role in the surrender of German Forces in Italy. He even helped Reinhard Gehlen to become the head of West German Intelligence. Gehlen was a part of Hitler’s Foreign Armies East and possessed a vast archive of information on the Soviet Union. He wasn’t a Nazi-sympathetic but saw German’s as important bulwark against the nation’s biggest threat – The Soviet Union.
Leslie Howard Worked Closely With the Government of Britain
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Two-time Academy Award winner Leslie Howard was one of the most prominent Hollywood personalities from the 1930s. You might remember him for the critically acclaimed romance flick “Gone with the Wind.”
Howard attempted to return to Britain sometime later, but the government had a strict rule that prevented citizens from holding foreign interests to reenter the country. However, he did strike a deal with the government. His job was to broadcast their ideas to neutral America. His recurring themes included reminding the British of their decency, their tolerance, and their freedom that Hitler was fighting. Ironically, “Gone with the Wind” was Hitler’s favorite films of all times.
W. Somerset Maugham was a British Secret Agent
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William Somerset Maugham was one of the most popular as well as the highest paid authors of the 1930s. Known for his literary works like Liza of Lambeth, Maugham also wrote short stories and served as a playwright.
He worked in Switzerland in the network of British spies that worked against the Berlin Committee. Surprisingly, he ‘disguised’ himself as a writer at that time.
Later, a British Secret Intelligence Service officer William Wiseman sent him to Russia to undertake a special mission. He has a keen eye for observing things which he believed he inherited from his lawyer father. His experience as a spy gave birth to the famous collection of short stories – Ashenden: Or the British Agent. Surprisingly, some believe that this work might have been the primary influence behind the inception of James Bond.
Graham Greene was a Reluctant Spy for the MI6
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Henry Graham Greene was an English novelist who was famous for his Catholic and thriller novels. People often regarded him as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His take on the political as well as moral issues through the perspective of a Catholic garnered him immense love from the people.
MI6 (UK’s Secret Intelligence Service) admitted that Graham Greene used to spy for Britain. The first authorized history of MI6 also carried the names of Arthur Ransome, Compton Mackenzie, Somerset Maugham and Malcolm Muggeridge. However, Greene and other named by the MI6 later revealed that they were reluctant spies. The MI6 only used them due to their access and knowledge of exotic parts of the world.
Bob Barr Joined the CIA
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Bob Barr is one of the many prominent political figures who worked for the CIA. The Congressman was one of the leaders who was involved in the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton.
Barr had lived in some countries in his younger days including Baghdad, Pakistan, Malaysia, Peru, and Panama. He joined the CIA as an analyst focusing primarily on the Latin American issues. However, he worked there for seven years (1971-1978) and left to practice law.
James R. Schlesinger was Briefly the DCI
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People remember James R. Schlesinger as the American Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975. Later he also went on to become the first Secretary of Energy under the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
He briefly became the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency before leaving it to become the American Secretary of Defense. Since he had worked for three different Government Agencies, he possessed quite a resume for a job of this stature.
Errol Flynn Accused of Sharing Information with the Nazis
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Errol Leslie Flynn was an Australian born Hollywood actor who became famous after 1935. The romantic heartthrob was popular for his numerous partnerships with Olivia de Havilland.
However, Charles Higham who wrote the much controversial biography about Flynn claims that he was a Nazi sympathizer who spied for them around the Second World War. He went on to say that Flynn was responsible for arranging the filming of Dive Bomber at the San Diego Naval Base. This, he believes was his attempt to pass information of American Warships to the Japanese military. Although he claims to have no evidence to support his claims, some influential people have lent into his theory.
John Hemingway was Part of the OSS
It isn’t surprising to see the grandson of Ernest Hemingway (another entry) making it to the list of celebrity spies. Born on August 19, 1960, the American author is famous for his literary works like Strange Tribe: A Family Memoir.
He was assigned to France in 1944 where he started his career as a military officer. His primary job was to command a particular unit of Black Soldiers. Later he got transferred to the Office of Strategic Services which was relatively new at the time. The OSS then transformed into CIA after the war. Reports suggest that once he was almost captured by the Germans when he parachuted into occupied areas of France.
In the picture: US Nobel Prize Ernest Hemingway grandsons Patrick (C) and John (L) Hemingway talk to a child upon arriving on board a yacht at the Cojimar neighborhood in Havana, on September 8, 2014, to participate in a homage for the 60th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. (Photo credit ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)
Alice Marble Got Almost Killed by the Nazis
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People remember the America Tennis Player, Alice Marble for her 18 Gram Slam Titles but there was indeed more to her than most people could imagine.
The CIA contacted her to get in touch with her former lover and Swiss banker to obtain the financial data of the Nazis. This was after her war pilot husband died fighting in Germany. Meanwhile, days before the death of her husband, she had also miscarried her baby in a car accident. The word is she almost got shot by a Nazi official in the back. Her story came to light after her death when her second autobiography was published. The title read “Courting Danger: My Adventures in World Class Tennis, Golden Age Hollywood, and High Stakes Spying.”
Arthur Schlesinger Jr Served in the World War II
Famous historian and author Arthur Schlesinger Jr. is known for his literary works like ‘The Imperial Presidency’ and ‘The Age of Jackson.’ He served President Kennedy as a special assistant and a court historian from 1961 to 1963.
However, most people did not know that he wanted to serve his country in World War II but failed the medical admission test. He was later inducted to the Office of Strategic Services (later CIA) as an intelligence analyst. He lent his expertise to various committees of the agency which also included a psychological warfare program. The program was designed to disorient the men of the enemy into surrendering to the United States.
In the picture: (Original Caption) Kennedy Looks in on a Friend. Cambridge, Massachusetts: President-elect John F. Kennedy is greeted by Harvard professor Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., (right) at the professor’s residence here, January 9. Kennedy came here after attending the annual meeting of the Harvard Board of Overseers. Photo Credit Getty Images
Kermit Roosevelt Played a Key Role In souring the US-Iran Relations
Kermit Roosevelt was the second son of 36th US president Theodore Roosevelt. A Harvard graduate, he served in both the First and Second World War.
When Mohammad Mosaddegh centralized Iran’s oil companies, Britain along with US assistance wanted to regain control. Kermit was responsible for overthrowing Mohammad Mosaddegh and restoring the monarchy under the Western-friendly Shah. His lifelong battle with depression ended with his suicide on June 4, 1943. At the time he was serving in the US Army in Alaska during the Second World War.
In the picture: American explorer and writer, Kermit Roosevelt (1889 -1943, second from left) the son of former President Theodore Roosevelt. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
Dalai Lama Gathered was on the CIA Payroll
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One of the most shocking entries to the list is the holy Dalai Lama. We all know that he was forced to leave Tibet and seek exile in India thereupon. Known for preaching non-violence and love, the 14th Dalai Lama was on the payroll by the CIA from the 1950s to 1974.
The secret agency used him for his classified information since the Red Scare was on a high swing at the time. Since the Dalai Lama wasn’t exactly happy after being driven out of his home, he happily obliged to the US offer. Reportedly, he received a whopping $15,000 every month for his information at the time. There are even reports of him using the money to fund Guerilla Warfare that aimed to disseminate the Chinese Propaganda in the country.
Christopher Marlowe Spied for the ‘Queen’
Christopher Marlowe is considered as one of the most influential playwrights in the history. Although born on the same day, he turned out to be the biggest inspirations for William Shakespeare. His literary works like The Jew of Malta and Doctor Faustus remain to be the highlight of his career.
Marlowe was suspected of spying for Queen Elizabeth. Experts believe he spied for the Queen through her spymaster, a man named Francis Walsingham. Since Marlowe took plenty of unexplained leaves from college and spent more than what a boy of that stature could, these allegations had found concrete ground.
In the picture: Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Kent, 2005. Canterbury’s Marlowe theatre is named after the playwright Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), who was born in the city. (Photo by Peter Thompson/Heritage Images/Getty Images)
The CIA Tested Uri Geller’s Psychic Powers
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The ‘spoon bender,’ Uri Geller is an illusionist and a self-proclaimed psychic. He was born to a Jewish couple in 1946 in Tel Aviv. Uri served in the Israeli army but garnered fame only for his tricks and illusions.
The word is that Uri spies for both America’s CIA and Israel’s intelligence service Mossad. He claims that he was a part of an Israeli bombing in Iraq which freed up to 100 hostages. He even claims that he managed to ‘erase’ the floppy disks that the Russians were smuggling out of Mexico. A source from the Telegraph believes that the CIA tested Uri’s psychic powers for eight days in 1973 and concluded that everything he claims to possess is real.
Jan van Eyck was a Secret Agent for “Philip the Good”
Portrait of Jan van Eyck (1390-1441). Photo Credit Getty Images
One of the most iconic painters in the Early Netherlandish painters, Jan Van Eyck, is believed to have been born in Maaseik. Some even regard him as the founder of Early Netherlandish painting and the inventor of oil painting.
However, Stealing the Mystic Lamb – a book by Art Historian Noah Charney mentions that Jan Van Eyck worked as a spy for one of his patrons ‘Philip the Good’. Jan Van Eyck received huge sums of money that usually came along a note saying something like ‘secret’ or ‘special.’ These instances coincided with his visits to rival courts which lead Noah to reach this conclusion.
Thubten Jigme Norbu Sought Help From the CIA
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The entry of the Dalai Lama on the list might have been shocking for some. Adding to their shock is Thubten Jigme Norbu, who happens to be Dalai Lama’s eldest brother also spied for the CIA.
After realizing the threat to Tibet from the Chinese Government, Norbu approached the CIA for help. He along with Gyalo Thandup became CIA secret agents who were supposed to trade intel. The United States even had plans to propose a ten-year plan which would primarily center on overthrowing the Chinese rule from Tibet. He carried a letter of authorization from the Dalai Lama that permitted him to represent his views. Eventually, the United States started using the air base in Bangkok to drop weapons and ammunition Tibetan regions of Kham.
Harold Wilson Accused of Working For the KGB
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Harold Wilson is a two time British Prime Minister who was in office from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976. He became the leader of the labor party after the mysterious death of Hugh Gaitskell.
Soviet defector Anatoliy Golitsyn claimed that Wilson had ties with the KGB. The claims had convinced the MI5 that a Soviet spy had managed to attain the highest office in the country. Since Harold’s ideas were always inclined to the left, the agencies became all the more convinced that he was in fact controlled by the Russians. However, there is no concrete evidence to support these claims to this day.
Marika Rökk Transported Secret Information to the Soviet Union
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Most of you might remember Marika Rökk as the silver screen German beauty from the Nazi era. The iconic film star resumed her career in 1947 after a break and remained to be Europe’s most famous operetta singers until 1986.
Although she was groomed to be a star by Nazi propaganda ministers to rival her Hollywood counterparts, reports suggest that she was a Soviet spy. She was one of Hitler’s favorite actors and even received flowers from him. In 1951, Germany’s Gehlen Organisation seemed concerned with her connections to Soviet Authorities which lead them to believe she could be a spy. However, she continued to be a part of a KGB spy network that passed sensitive information to the Soviets for more than 50 years.
John A. McCone: The Director of CIA
John A. McCone, the renowned American Businessman, was once the Director of Central Intelligence Agency. He lent his services from 1961 to 1965 during a period when the Cold War was at its peak.
He was appointed at the DCI on the recommendation of Robert Francis Kennedy who served as the 64th Attorney General of the United States. During his tenure as the DCI, he was part of many significant operations. The most notable of those programs is the CIA operation in Ecuador where it helped in overthrowing the president José Velasco Ibarra. He also played a significant role in the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état.
In the picture: (Original Caption) John H. McCone (R) replacing Allen W. Dulles (C) as Director of C.I.A., leaving the Naval War College with President John F. Kennedy following the announcement. Photo Credit Getty Images