Smiley’s Chosen People
Charlie Chaplin’s real name a mystery says UK spies
The real name and birthplace of legendary silent-film star Charlie Chaplin is shrouded in mystery, Britain’s domestic spy agency concluded after a probe into U.S. claims he was a communist sympathizer, documents released on Friday revealed.
British MI5 agents were asked in 1952 to investigate Chaplin’s background by the FBI, which believed he was using an alias and that his real name was Israel Thornstein, over long-running U.S. suspicions about the actor’s left-wing leanings.
Chaplin, one of Hollywood’s first and greatest stars famed for his “Little Tramp” character, believed he was born on April 16, 1889, in south London.
And here was the response from MI5…
Dear Mr. Hoover,
While we share your bewilderment with heterosexuality, we do not always find it subversive. And it does apparently predate Communism. But as for your other suspicion, Mr. Chaplin is small, dark and talented. Indeed, his somewhat recent wife Paulette Goddard is actually Marion Levy. But she was his third. If I correctly remember “Oliver Twist”, only the first wife is expected to be Jewish. So that would preclude Mr. Chaplin from being Mr. Caplan.
But while we are delving into international conspiracies, we would like you to verify our suspicions of the following radicals: Sam and Jake Abrams, Benjamin Frankel, Gershon Vashinstein, Al “Chaim” Milton and Tevye Cheffershein.
Yours (at discreet bars),
Guy Burgess–not Bergess