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The movie star Charlie Chaplin became the subject of an MI5 investigation after the US pressed for evidence linking him to communism, according to files released in the National Archives.
The files available online show MI5 was skeptical about American requests.
MI5 was baffled to discover there were no records of Charlie Chaplin's birth when it investigated his alleged communist sympathies, newly released files reveal.
British intelligence officers could find no documents confirming the silent film star was born in London in April 1889, and they dismissed claims that he was in fact originally from France.
The mystery of Chaplin's birth emerged when the US authorities asked MI5 to look into the comic actor's background after he left America in 1952 under a cloud of suspicion over his communist links.
The star is believed to have been born on April 16 1889 in East Street, Walworth, south London - just four days before the birth of Adolf Hitler, whom he lampooned in his classic 1940 film The Great Dictator.
The FBI, which described the star of Modern Times and The Great Dictator as one of "Hollywood's parlour Bolsheviks", asked MI5 for information to help get him banned from the US. The results, including information gathered through eavesdropping, are contained in an extensive personal MI5 file released on Friday at the National Archives.
"Chaplin has given funds to communist front organisations … He has been involved in paternity and abortion cases," an MI5 liaison officer in Washington warned in October 1952.
MI5 noted that a decade earlier Chaplin had told the Los Angeles branch of the National Council of American Soviet Friendship: "There is a great deal of good in communism. We can use the good and segregate the bad."
The FBI, which amassed more than 2,000 pages on Chaplin, asked MI5 if he was going to meet any "highly placed persons" in London, and to establish any links he had with the Communist party there.
In particular, it wanted MI5 to find out where Chaplin was born and pursue suggestions that his real name was Israel Thornstein.
MI5 searched but to no avail. There was "'no evidence that Chaplin's name is or ever has been Israel Thornstein", it told the FBI. A suggestion that he "may have been born in France" came to nothing.
Files previously released at the National Archives reveal that shortly before his death in 1950, George Orwell handed a female friend working for an anti-communist propaganda unit in the Foreign Office a list of 35 names of people, including Chaplin, whom he considered "crypto-communists and fellow-travellers".
Chaplin's MI5 file, number PF710549, concludes: "It may be that Chaplin is a communist sympathiser but on the information before us he would appear to be no more than a 'progressive', or radical."
In 1953 the US prevented Chaplin from returning to America. He denied ever being a communist but decided not to contest the US ban and instead live in Switzerland. "I am a victim of lies and vicious propaganda," he said.
Chaplin died in his sleep in Vevey, Switzerland, on Christmas Day in 1977.
Originally posted by Snoopy1978
reply to post by mainidh
Thank you, search nazi, for your cataloguing efforts. If it wasnt for this post, Id never wouldve thought to search on this interesting subject so give the archiving a rest will ya?
Originally posted by isyeye
reply to post by mainidh
Dang.....I even did a search and it came back with nothing.
Maybe this thread can stay since it's in another forum?edit on 17-2-2012 by isyeye because: (no reason given)