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You Know You Want To Snoop Around Marilyn Monroe’s Secret FBI File

Freshly un-redacted FBI files paint Monroe as a bit of a communist

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A mural of Marilyn Monroe in Washington, D.C. Photo: Library of Congress

The dazzling actress Marilyn Monroe, who wowed a generation with her acting, singing and standing-on-a-subway-grate antics was, according to freshly-released documents compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, also a bit of a communist. Or, at least, during the mid-20th century communist-hunting era, the bureau thought she was a bit of a communist. But, says the Atlantic Wire, the feds could never quite pin her down.

According to the Associated Press, who got access to the documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, the files “show the extent the agency was monitoring Monroe for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962.”

The records had been available previously, but they were heavily redacted. The new re-issue saw some of those black marks taken away.

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. One entry, which previously had been almost completely redacted, concerned intelligence that Monroe and other entertainers sought visas to visit Russia that year.

The file continues up until the months before her death, and also includes several news stories and references to Norman Mailer’s biography of the actress, which focused on questions about whether Monroe was killed by the government.

All 104 pages of Monroe’s two-part file are available online on the FBI’s The Vault, a site that houses all the documents released by the agency because of Freedom of Information Act requests.

If you feel like diving deep into the secret lives of some of history’s notable figures, the Vault actually holds files on a varied and interesting mix of characters including, ironically, Senator Joseph McCarthy. Some other names that jumped out include:

Historical Figures:

Amelia Mary Earhart
Jack the Ripper
John Wilkes Booth
Nikola Tesla
Helen Keller
Adolf Hitler

Celebrities:

Elvis Presley
Kiss (the band)
Tupac Shakur
The Beatles
Michael Jackson

More from Smithsonian.com:

Remembering Marilyn Monroe
This 105-Year-Old Made Marilyn Monroe’s Earrings

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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