More Monroe FBI files show extent of monitoring

Arthur Miller with Marilyn Monroe in 1956. The FBI was also watching the playwright and other celebrities.
Associated Press
Arthur Miller with Marilyn Monroe in 1956. The FBI was also watching the playwright and other celebrities.

LOS ANGELES — FBI files on Marilyn Monroe that could not be located earlier this year have been found and reissued, revealing 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 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 probably a suicide.

Recently obtained 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 her inner circle were concerned about her association with Frederick Vanderbilt Field, who was disinherited from his family over his leftist views.

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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.

‘‘This situation caused considerable dismay among Miss Monroe’s entourage and also among the [American Communist Group in Mexico],’’ the file states.

Field’s autobiography devotes a chapter to Monroe’s Mexico trip, ‘‘An Indian Summer Interlude.’’ He mentions that he and his wife accompanied Monroe shopping and for 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 Mc-Carthyism 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 former husband Arthur Miller. The bureau has also been involved in investigations about crimes against celebrities, including threats against Elizabeth Taylor, an extortion case involving Clark Gable, and more recently, trying to solve Notorious B.I.G.’s killing.

The Associated Press had sought removal of redactions from Monroe’s FBI files this year as part of a series of stories on the 50th anniversary of her death. The FBI had reported 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 with dozens of redactions eliminated.

For all the focus on her closeness to suspected communists, the bureau never found proof Monroe was in 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 states.