Secret Agent Men (And Women)

February 18, 2020

You know, you think you know somebody—like famous movie stars, musicians, politicians, and historical figures—and then you come to find out that they all worked as spies for the government. (They must have been pretty good spies then!)

Frank Sinatra

It’s an open secret that Old Blue Eyes had some ties to organized crime. If it’s so well-known that the legendary singer palled around with the toughest of criminals, then how come he was never punished or prosecuted? According to daughter Nancy Sinatra, the C.I.A. knew all about her father’s mafia connections…and looked the other way if he went to work for them as a courier. Sinatra apparently passed along top-secret documents as he traveled around from nightclub to concert hall across the country.

Julia Child

Before the establishment of the C.I.A., the country’s top spy agency was the Office of Strategic Services. And before she became the most famous chef in America because of the book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and TV show The French Chef, Julia child worked for the agency. At first, she was a clerk, then got promoted to research assistant, then was stationed in Sri Lanka and China, where she transcribed top-secret information.

Cary Grant

During World War II, the government housed Japanese-Americans in internment camps, but chose to watch American citizens from Germany and Italy by spying on them. The C.I.A. recruited producers and actors in Hollywood to eavesdrop on and report back on any “un-American” activity they encountered. Matinee idol Cary Grant was one of these Hollywood spies, and he informed the C.I.A. that fellow movie star Errol Flynn was decidedly pro-Hitler.

John Steinbeck

He’s best known as a giant of American literature, the author of Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck also did a little light espionage on the side, and well after he became famous. In 1952, Collier’s Magazine sent him to travel around  Mediterranean Sea countries and write about whatever he liked. Steinbeck decided to moonlight, and wrote to the C.I.A., offering the agency his services during his travels.

If you think you’re like these folks and got what it takes to be a spy, you’ve got to ask yourself: Are You Smart Enough to be a Secret Agent? That’s a new puzzle book, and it’s available now from Portable Press.