Why The FBI Was Once Fixated On Burt Lancaster

In a 1963 memo from FBI agent Milton A. Jones to his boss, Deputy Associate Director Cartha “Deke” DeLoach, unclassified in 1996 and available via the Internet Archive, Jones notes that Burt Lancaster had signed a 1947 statement from the so-called “communist front” the National Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professionals asking Congress to abolish the HUAC. Lancaster also reportedly asked for a tour of FBI headquarters and to meet the Bureau’s director, J. Edgar Hoover, in 1957; his request was denied by Hoover “in view of his subversive association.” Jones’ inspiration for the memo and the beginning of the Bureau’s file on Lancaster was Lancaster’s participation in a meeting in Beverly Hills, California led by Dr. Christopher L. Taylor of the NAACP and focused on “peaceful steps to speed up integration in their community.” 

Further information imparted in the memo includes a 1960 raid on the home of “a millionaire and notorious homosexual” whose name is removed from the memo. Said millionaire made his guests sign a register and Burt Lancaster’s name appeared, among those of other celebrities. In 1962, someone from the Central Intelligence Agency forwarded a letter to the FBI in which an unnamed person “noted with alarm” that Burt Lancaster “was among those in Hollywood who desired to make pictures with strong social commentary.” The Marquette University Raynor Memorial Libraries Scope and Content Note for their holdings on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s files states that Lancaster was investigated “for affiliation with the Communist Party of America in the 1940s, for alleged homosexual behavior in the 1950s, and participating in the activities of the Civil Rights Congress in the 1960s.”

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