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Charlie Chaplin, the red menace?

MI5 investigated the film comedian at request of FBI
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Charlie Chaplin: funny man? or dangerous communist? MI5 thought it was the former. (AFP/Getty Images)

The FBI in the 1940's and 50's was always on the look-out for Commies and Charlie Chaplin was in their sights but today, for the first time, it has been revealed that the Feds asked Britain's domestic security agency MI5 to look into his activities.  MI5 was not worried by Chaplin's politics following the investigation but was rather dismissive of the FBI's motives.

The Daily Telegraph quotes the file, "His name has, of course, been exploited in the interests of communism as one of the victims of 'McCarthyism' ...It may be that Chaplin is a communist sympathizer, but on the information before us he would appear to be no more than a 'progressive' or radical."

The most interesting aspect of the file has to do with the fact that no birth certificate for Chaplin was ever found. Apparently the FBI wanted confirmation that his name at birth was Israel Thornstein and that he was a Russian Jew.  Back in the McCarthy era to be a Russian Jew was to be considered automatically suspect.  Communist equaled Jew for the bigots who ran riot over American civil liberties looking for reds under the bed.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/europe/charlie-chaplin-the-red-menace

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