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FBI removes many redactions in Marilyn Monroe file

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FBI removes many redactions in Marilyn Monroe file

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY, AP Entertainment Writer | December 28, 2012 | Updated: December 28, 2012 10:02am


LOS ANGELES (AP) — FBI files on Marilyn Monroe that could not be located earlier this year 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 and her own entourage.

But 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.

Recently obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, the updated FBI files do show the extent the agency was monitoring Monroe for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962.

The records reveal that 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.

"This 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, "An Indian Summer Interlude." He mentions that he and his wife accompanied Monroe on shopping trips and meals and he only mentions politics once in a passage on 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 Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin and Monroe's ex-husband Arthur Miller. The bureau has also been involved in numerous investigations about crimes against celebrities, including threats against Elizabeth Taylor, an extortion case involving Clark Gable and more recently, trying to solve who killed rapper Notorious B.I.G.

The AP had sought the removal of redactions from Monroe's FBI files earlier this year as part of a series of stories on the 50th anniversary of Monroe's death. 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.

For years, the files have intrigued investigators, biographers and those who don't believe Monroe's death at her Los Angeles area home was a 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."

That characterization intrigued the man who performed Monroe's autopsy, Dr. Thomas Noguchi. While the DA investigation concluded he conducted a thorough autopsy, Noguchi has conceded that no one will likely ever know all the details of Monroe's death. The FBI files and confidential interviews conducted with the actress' friends that have never been made public might help, he wrote in his 1983 memoir "Coroner."

"On the basis of my own involvement in the case, beginning with the autopsy, I would call Monroe's suicide 'very probable,'" Noguchi wrote. "But I also believe that until the complete FBI files are made public and the notes and interviews of the suicide panel released, controversy will continue to swirl around her death."

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.

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," a July 1962 entry in Monroe's file states.


Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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Friday night pre-holiday dump belies the "nothing new here" stamp. They don't dump at these times unless they want something ignored. Often, it's specific tiny details that change a larger view but only for those who understand the complete context. I'd love to see the analysis of this by guys like John Newman and Peter Dale Scott...maybe Anthony Summers.

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It is interesting that the FBI's main concern was with her left-wing friend, Frederick Vanderbilt Field. It has to be remembered that this was a period when the blacklist was still operating in Hollywood. Field had given financial help to blacklisted writers such as Ring Lardner Jr., Dalton Trumbo, Hugo Butler, Jean Rouverol and Albert Maltz. He even went to live with them in Mexico (as did Martha Dodd).

Some liberals in Hollywood wanted to bring an end to the blacklist (it of course was rerally a strategy to keep liberal ideas out of Hollywood and had very little to do with communism). In 1959 Frank Sinatra announced that he proposed to break the blacklist by employing Albert Maltz as the screenwriter of his proposed film, The Execution of Private Slovik, based on the book by William Bradford Huie. Sinatra soon came under attack for his decision. He nearly came to blows with John Wayne, who called him a "Commie" when they met in the street. However, what really hurt Sinatra was the criticism he received in the press. This included claims that his friend, John F. Kennedy, also wanted an end to the blacklist. Sinatra issued a statement to the press: "I would like to comment on the attacks from certain quarters on Senator John Kennedy by connecting him with my decision on employing a screenwriter. This type of partisan politics is hitting below the belt... I make movies. I do not ask the advice of Senator Kennedy on whom I should hire. Senator Kennedy does not ask me how he should vote in the Senate."

Michael Freedland, the author of Witch-Hunt in Hollywood (2009) argues that "Kennedy didn't like the association with the name of one of the Hollywood Ten. He would soon run from President and he was worried that he could harm him." A few days later Sinatra took out another paid-for advertisement in the newspapers: "In view of the reaction of my family, friends and the American public I've instructed my lawyers to make a settlement with Albert Maltz. My conversations with Maltz indicate that he has an affirmative, pro-American approach to the story, but the American public has indicated it feels that the morality of hiring Maltz is the most crucial matter and I will accept this majority opinion."

In 1960 Trumbo became the first blacklisted writer to use his own name when he wrote the screenplay for the film Spartacus. Based on the novel by another left-wing blacklisted writer, Howard Fast, is a film that examines the spirit of revolt. Trumbo refers back to his experiences of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. At the end, when the Romans finally defeat the rebellion, the captured slaves refuse to identify Spartacus. As a result, all are crucified. Ironically, much of Spartacus was filmed on land owned by William Randolph Hearst. It was Hearst's newspapers that played such an important role in making McCarthyism possible.

As Ring Lardner Jr., another member of the Hollywood Ten, pointed out in his autobiography, I'd Hate Myself in the Morning (2000): “Sinatra caved in, paying off Maltz in cash and eventually scrubbing the project, perhaps partly out of fear of harming his friend John F. Kennedy, a candidate for President at the time. (Following the election that fall, however, the President-elect and his brother, Attorney-General-to-be Robert Kennedy, crossed a picket line to see Spartacus at a theater in Washington D.C., and pronounced it good.)”



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  • 1 month later...

Statistical information relevant as to how Marilyn Monroe died:

From the article: “Guns are particularly lethal. Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent of cases, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.”

“Overdoses, which account for about 80 percent of suicide attempts, are responsible for just 14 percent of fatalities.”


To Reduce Suicide Rates, New Focus Turns to Guns


The New York Times

February 13, 2013


DAYTON, Wyo. — Craig Reichert found his son’s body on a winter morning, lying on the floor as if he were napping with his great-uncle’s pistol under his knee. The 911 dispatcher told him to administer CPR, but Mr. Reichert, who has had emergency training, told her it was too late. His son, Kameron, 17, was already cold to the touch.

Guns are like a grandmother’s diamonds in the Reichert family, heirlooms that carry memory and tradition. They are used on the occasional hunting trip, but most days they are stored, forgotten, under a bed. So when Kameron used one on himself, his parents were as shocked as they were heartbroken.

“I beat myself up quite a bit over not having a gun safe or something to put them in,” Mr. Reichert said. But he said even if he had had one, “There would have been two people in the house with the combination, him and me.”

The gun debate has focused on mass shootings and assault weapons since the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., but far more Americans die by turning guns on themselves. Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national suicide rate has climbed by 12 percent since 2003, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers.

Guns are particularly lethal. Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent of cases, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

The national map of suicide lights up in states with the highest gun ownership rates. Wyoming, Montana and Alaska, the states with the three highest suicide rates, are also the top gun-owning states, according to the Harvard center. The state-level data are too broad to tell whether the deaths were in homes with guns, but a series of individual-level studies since the early 1990s found a direct link. Most researchers say the weight of evidence from multiple studies is that guns in the home increase the risk of suicide.

“The literature suggests that having a gun in your home to protect your family is like bringing a time bomb into your house,” said Dr. Mark Rosenberg, an epidemiologist who helped establish the C.D.C.’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. “Instead of protecting you, it’s more likely to blow up.”

Still, some dispute the link, saying that it does not prove cause and effect, and that other factors, like alcoholism and drug abuse, may be driving the association. Gary Kleck, a professor of criminology at Florida State University in Tallahassee, contends that gun owners may have qualities that make them more susceptible to suicide. They may be more likely to see the world as a hostile place, or to blame themselves when things go wrong, a dark side of self-reliance.

Health officials in a number of states are trying to persuade families to keep guns away from troubled relatives or to lock the weapons up so teenagers cannot get them. Some of those same officials say the inflamed national gun control debate is actually making progress harder because the politics put gun owners on the defensive.

“You just bump up against that glass wall, and barriers go up and the conversations break down,” said B. J. Ayers, a suicide prevention specialist in southeast Wyoming.

Seeking to lower death rates, health departments in Missouri, Wyoming and North Carolina are giving out gunlocks. In New Hampshire, about half the gun shops put up posters and give out fliers alerting gun owners to the warning signs for suicide and suggesting ways to keep guns from loved ones at risk of harming themselves. A coalition of firearm dealers in Maryland is now planning a similar program.

“This is an issue whose time has come,” said Keith Hotle, state suicide prevention team leader for Wyoming, the state with the highest suicide rate. A state advisory council recently bumped firearms safety to the top priority in a new report to the governor on suicide prevention. But Mr. Hotle cautioned that in Wyoming, where guns are like cars — just about everybody has one — direct arguments against them simply will not work.

“The framing is important,” he said. “It’s not about taking away people’s guns. It’s about how to deal with folks in a temporary crisis.”

Kameron’s crisis was, by all accounts, temporary. He was a popular football player with adoring parents and no history of depression. He worked after school at the only corner grocery store in Dayton, a tiny town in northeastern Wyoming with tidy, tree-lined streets and a park at the base of Bighorn National Forest. He liked to drive students around in his Pontiac Grand Prix, and he always bought multipacks of gum at Costco so he could give out sticks in pretty blue wrappers to girls at school.

“If someone had a hankering for a hamburger, he’d be off,” said his mother, Cara Reichert, an administrator in the local school system.

The event that preceded his death in 2008 seems like the mischievous scrape of a teenage boy. Out one night in the town park, he was caught with a package of cigars by local police officers.

His parents are still tormented over the bad luck that followed. The officers searched him because they were training a new colleague. Then a clerk at the local court told him — incorrectly — that his parents had to be present to pay the fine. His parents punished him by taking away his cellphone, though they left him his car.

“If just one little piece of this story would not have fallen into place,” Mr. Reichert said, his voice breaking.

Suicidal acts are often prompted by a temporary surge of rage or despair, and most people who attempt them do not die. In a 2001 study of 13- to 34-year-olds in Houston who had attempted suicide but were saved by medical intervention, researchers from the C.D.C. found that, for more than two-thirds of them, the time that elapsed between deciding to act and taking action was an hour or less. The key to reducing fatalities, experts say, is to block access to lethal means when the suicidal feeling spikes.

The chances of dying rise drastically when a gun is present, because guns are so much more likely to be lethal, said Dr. Matthew Miller, associate director of the Harvard center. Guns are used in more than half of all suicide fatalities, but account for just 1 percent of all self-harm injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms, a rough proxy for suicide attempts, Dr. Miller said. Overdoses, which account for about 80 percent of suicide attempts, are responsible for just 14 percent of fatalities.

“If you use a gun,” Dr. Miller said, “you usually don’t get a second chance.”

One common argument is that the suicidal person would have found some other way to kill himself, even if no gun was available. That is the belief of Sharon Wells, the adoptive grandmother of Kyle Wells, a 16-year-old in Cody, Wyo., who shot himself with her pistol in October.

“It’s not the guns, it’s the person,” Ms. Wells said.

Kyle was born into a world of problems that began with fetal alcohol syndrome, and continued throughout school, where he was bullied relentlessly for his small stature, she said.

If he had not used a gun, she said, he would have used something else.

“Yes, many may find another method,” said Catherine Barber, director of the Harvard center’s Means Matter public health education campaign, “but will it kill them?”

Citing statistics from emergency rooms and death certificates, she said, “Nearly everything they substitute will have lower odds of killing them, sometimes dramatically so.”

Reducing access to lethal means has worked in other countries. An intervention in Israel preventing soldiers from taking their guns home on weekend leave, a time when many soldiers’ suicides occurred, helped reduce the suicide rate among them by 40 percent.

Michael Richins, a coroner in Lincoln County in southwest Wyoming who lectures on suicide prevention, contends that it is gun owners, not the government, who will bring down suicide rates. Gun control, which is about restrictions imposed by government, will only turn them off, he said. “You have to use an approach that’s palatable to people,” he said. “You’re not victimizing, you’re empowering.”

After Kameron’s death, his father could no longer stand to have the gun his son used in the house, so he gave it to his brother. Still, he cherishes his gun collection, and strongly opposes talk of gun control in Washington.

“I will always believe in guns,” he said.

He has sought solace in comforting others, reaching out to other families in the area who were going through a similar trauma. His life is still a fog of unanswerable questions: What if he had not punished Kameron by taking away his cellphone? What if he had locked up the family guns?

His daughter, Kassidy, a high school senior, tries not to ask such questions. Sometimes she feels angry at her brother, but mostly she misses him.

“It hurts even more to think what could have happened,” she said, “because it’s not going to change anything.”

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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