Labour History

Larry Adler and the Cold War

Labour History (2011), 101, (1), 195–204.


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1.SIS toD.L.H. Porter(MI5), 7July1951, Lawrence Cecil Adler Personal File 145246, KV2/3496 (henceforth MI5 Personal File). The reply (W.M. Drower to MI6, 23 July 1951) was in the negative: there was no trace of Adler but enquiries would be initiated. Google Scholar

3.Despite the extensive coverage the Adler-Draper case attracted at the time, it has been almost entirely overlooked in the literature on McCarthyism and blacklisting; it receives no mention, for example, in eitherEllen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America,,Little, Brown, 1998,Robert Vaughan, Only Victims: A Study of Show Business Blacklisting,,Putnam, 1972, or Paul Buhle’s numerous studies of blacklisting in the entertainment industry. The two fleeting exceptions areStefan Kanfer,A Journal of the Plague Years,,Atheneum, 1973, p.102; andDavid Caute, The Great Fear: The Anti-Communist Purge Under Truman and Eisenhower,,Simon & Schuster, 1978, p.532. Neither refers to the role of MI5 once Adler shifted to Great Britain. Google Scholar

There is no mention ofHester McCullough inMary C. Brennan, Wives, Mothers, and the Red menace: conservative women and the crusade against communism,,University Press of Colorado, 2008 Google Scholar

5.Washington Post, 5May1950, p.2. Google Scholar

6.Kanfer, A Journal of the Plague Years, p.102. Google Scholar

7.Christian Science Monitor, 15November1949, p.2. Google Scholar

8.Washington Post, 5May1950, p.2. Google Scholar

9.Larry Adler, It Ain’t Necessarily So,,William Collins, 1984, p.155. Google Scholar

10.New York Times, 19May1950, p.8. Google Scholar

11.Christian Science Monitor, 31January1949, p.5. Google Scholar

12.Los Angeles Times, 20March1949, p.D5. Google Scholar

13.Christian Science Monitor, 2May1950, p.2. Google Scholar

14.Adler, Ain’t Necessarily So, p.168. Adler’s initial choice of legal representation wasO. John Rogge, but ‘he was more left-wing than we were’. Ibid., p.167. Given Rogge’s subsequent role in the Rosenberg case, this comment assumes an unintended irony (seePhillip Deery, ‘“A Divided Soul”? The Cold War Odyssey of O. John Rogge’, Cold War History, vol.6, no.2, 2006, pp.177-204). Google Scholar

15.Christian Science Monitor, 15November1949, p.2;Chicago Daily Tribune, 15November1949, p.4. For the deposition of McCullough and legal correspondence concerning the lawsuit from 25 November 1949 and 26 March 1950, seeLarry Adler papers, Accession No. 8198, Box 8, Folders 1-2, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming. Google Scholar

16.Chicago Daily Tribune, 20February1950, p.A2 Google Scholar

17.New York Times, 25February1950, p.30 Google Scholar

18.Christian Science Monitor, 8December1949, p.2,Washington Post, 9December1949, p.14. Google Scholar

19.Members of the committee, including Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Danny Kaye as well as Adler, famously travelled from California to Washington DC in October 1947 to give moral support to the Ten. Bogart soon after renounced his role in the trip.Patrick McGilligan andPaul Buhle,Tender Comrades,,St Martin’s Press, 1997, pp.316-7. Google Scholar

20.Adler, Ain’t Necessarily So, p.150. Google Scholar

21.Smith, a Yale-educated, 46-year old Roman Catholic, had been a District Court judge since 1941; for the previous six years he had been a Democratic congressman for Connecticut. In 1949, he was one of three judges who approved the sentencing ofJohn Gates(editor, Daily Worker) to 30 days imprisonment for contempt of court.Chicago Sunday Tribune, 28May1950, p.1. Google Scholar

22.New York Times, 28May1950, p.30. Google Scholar

23.This was not exaggerated: in 1946, Adler’s gross earnings were an astonishing $96,400.New York Times, 28April1950, p.16. As a result of Mrs McCullough’s charges, Adler stated, he could not obtain any work ‘as of this moment’.Chicago Daily Tribune, 27April1950, p.21. This was confirmed by thenational executive secretary of Theatre Authority Inc.,Alan Corelli, who was told directly by the organizers of the ‘Night of Stars’ show at Madison Square Garden, NYC, that Adler was ‘too hot right now, we can’t take a chance because of this publicity’.New York Times, 4May1950, p.2. Google Scholar

24.Washington Post, 26April1950, p.2;New York Times, 26April1950, p.4. Google Scholar

25.Adler described the conviction of the Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee (JAFRC) Board for refusing to surrender its records to HUAC as ‘unfair’. He supported the Committee to Save the JAFRC, which was included on the Attorney General’s List of Subversive Organizations. The benefit concert, organised by the JAFRC, at which he performed, in August 1947, was to raise funds for hospitals in France and Mexico;Washington Post, 27April1950, p.2. Google Scholar

26.New York Times, 27April1950, p.26. Google Scholar

27.New York Times, 28April1950, p.16. Google Scholar

28.Christian Science Monitor, 19May1950, p.2. Google Scholar

29.Chicago Daily Tribune, 2May1950, p.9. Google Scholar

30.Christian Science Monitor, 6May1950, p.6. Google Scholar

31.Adler asked him not to testify since his customers were mostly right-wing Republicans. Kreindler allegedly replied, ‘Stuff them and stuff their business. You’re my friend’.Adler, It Ain’t Necessarily So, p.171. Google Scholar

32.New York Times, 16May1950, p.13. Budenz was an ex-editor of the Daily Worker; seeLouis Francis Budenz, Men Without Faces: The Communist Conspiracy in the USA,New York,Harper & Bros, 1948. Google Scholar

33.Chicago Daily Tribune, 12May1950, p.19;Washington Post, 12May1950, p.8. Similarly, Col. James Green, chairman of the American Legion’s Americanism Commission, knew neither nor had any personal knowledge of their activities on behalf of any organisation, but told the court they had a ‘reputation’ for disloyalty.Christian Science Monitor, 18May1950, p.9. Equally dubious defence witnesses were two bartenders who served drinks at a Wallace-for-President rally in 1947 and heard Adler and Draper making pro-communist statements.Chicago Daily Tribune, 19May1950, p.15. An under-cover informant for the FBI, John J. Huber, also testified.New York Times, 24May1950, p.21. Google Scholar

34.New York Times, 12May1950, p.12. Google Scholar

35.On Cvetic, seeDaniel J. Leab, I Was a Communist for the FBI: The Unhappy Life and Times of Matt Cvetic,,Penn State University Press, 2000. Google Scholar

36. Chicago Daily Tribune, 18May1950, p.13. Google Scholar

37.New York Times, 12May1950, p.12. Google Scholar

38.David Caute, Fellow-Travellers: Intellectual Friends of Communism,,Yale University Press, 1988, pp.141, 319. Google Scholar

39.Caute, Fellow-Travellers, p.325;Robert M. Lichtman, ‘J.B. Matthews and the ‘Counter-subversives’: Names as a Political and Financial Resource in the McCarthy Era’, American Communist History, vol.5, no.1, June2006, pp.1-36. Google Scholar

40.Ellen Schrecker, No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism and the Universities,,Oxford University Press, 1986, pp.72, 151. Google Scholar

41.J.B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986,Special Collections Library, Duke University. Google Scholar

42.Chicago Daily Tribune, 19May1950, p.15;Los Angeles Times, 19May1950, p.9;New York Times, 19May1950, p.8;Washington Post, 19May1950, p.3. Google Scholar

43.She and her husband had read this bulky report ‘from cover to cover’.Christian Science Monitor, 22May1950, p.2. Google Scholar

44.Chicago Daily Tribune, 23May1950, p.4;24May1950, p.A1;New York Times, 23May1950, p.7;24May1950, p.21. Google Scholar

45.Washington Post, 26May1950, p.10. Google Scholar

46.Chicago Sunday Tribune, 28May1950, p.1;New York Times, 28May1850, pp.1, 30; Google Scholar

47.Christian Science Monitor, 29May1950, p.4. Google Scholar

48.Washington Post, 10September1950, p.M12. Google Scholar

49.Washington Post, 22August1950, p.11. She had already received $26,000 contributions from ‘well wishers’ for a defence fund during the trial.Chicago Daily Tribune, 2October1951, p.2. Google Scholar

50.Christian Science Monitor, 2October1951, p.11. For her subsequent ambivalent involvement in the obscure Joint Committee Against Communism whose protests against the television appearance of actress Jean Muir in ‘The Aldrich Family’ led directly to her blacklisting, seeNew York Times, 3September1950, p.49(‘Case of Jean Muir’), 7September1950, pp.1, 34;Christian Science Monitor, 12September1950, p.16(‘The Right of Fair Trial’). Google Scholar

51.Adler, his wife (Eileen) and three young children left their Beverly Hills home in California and moved to London via France in November 1950. As he commented, ‘If I had stayed in America I literally would not have been able to work … The fees are only about a quarter of what I used to get at home, but at least I can keep my head above water.’New York Times, 23April1951, p.27. Google Scholar

56.Like Adler, Chaplin relinquished his US residence permanently, although in Chaplin’s case it was prompted by the FBI advising theImmigration and Naturalization Service(INS) to revoke his re-entry permit in 1952. And like Adler, he was never a ‘security’ problem in the United Kingdom. Google Scholar

57.Bagot toCimperman, 16July1953, MI5 Personal File. Google Scholar

58.Letter and attached Memorandum,Cimperman toBagot, 22July1953, MI5 Personal File. Google Scholar

59.J. Philip O’Brien(assistant legal attaché) toM.J.E. Bagot, 28October1953, MI5 Personal File. Google Scholar

61.New York Times, 27November1951, p.48. He was flown to Japan under the auspices of the British Major General Jim Cassels, who arranged the tour. As a result of being in South Korea, Adler’s subsequent concert tour of Israel was boycotted by the Israeli Communist Party. Google Scholar

62.Ibid., 23April1951, p.27. Google Scholar

63.Ibid., 20June1952, p.18. Google Scholar

64.Adler, Ain’t Necessarily So, p.208. Google Scholar

65.Ibid., p.182. Google Scholar

66.Ibid., pp.219-20. Google Scholar

67.J.A. Cimperman, toEvelyn McBarnet(MI5), 14June1956, MI5 Personal File. Google Scholar

68.Ibid., 16July1956, MI5 Personal File. Google Scholar

69.New York Times, 29July1955, p.36. Google Scholar

70.Adler, Ain’t Necessarily So, p.185. Google Scholar

71.M.H. Phillmore(MI5) toM.K. Brenchley(HO), 22July1957, MI5 Personal File. Google Scholar

72.P. R. Clapham toJ.A. Cimperman, 26September1957, MI5 Personal File. Google Scholar

73.‘Note’,J. Chenhalls, 25November1958, MI5 Personal File. Adler had also appeared on Cimperman’s end of April list of pending cases. MI5’s Phillmore told Cimperman that Adler would be visiting Australia and India; Cimperman replied that ‘he was not interested in his travels but only in whether he had come to notice’. ‘Note’,M.H. Phillmore, 2May1958. For a broader-ranging analaysis of British scepticism – and sometimes hostility – towards American McCarthyism, seeGiora Goodman, ‘The British Government and the Challenge of McCarthyism in the Early Cold War’,Journal of Cold War Studies, vol.12, no.1, Winter2010, pp.62-97. Google Scholar

74.Variety, 9August2001;Los Angeles Times, 24September1996. Google Scholar

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Author details

Deery, Phillip