Famous People Who Are on the FBI’s List

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has played a significant role in American history since its establishment in the early 20th century. While primarily tasked with domestic investigations, the FBI has, over time, found itself embroiled in controversies and faced accusations of abuses of power. Among its many activities, the FBI has conducted surveillance on celebrities and public figures, making for an intriguing chapter in its history. From iconic musicians to legendary athletes and renowned actors, here are some of the most famous celebrities who found themselves on the FBI’s list.

John Lennon: The Rock Star Under Surveillance

The legendary John Lennon, co-founder of The Beatles, was the subject of extensive FBI surveillance due to his liberal political activism and outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War. The FBI closely monitored his involvement with the New Left, a political movement advocating for radical change and civil rights activism. Concerned about Lennon’s financial support for political activists associated with the New Left, the FBI scrutinized his donations to organizations like the Election Year Strategy Information Center (EYSIC). The FBI’s efforts to influence Lennon’s immigration status culminated in the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (INS) initial refusal to renew his green card, ultimately resolved in Lennon’s favor after legal appeals.

Muhammad Ali: The Boxing Icon and Civil Rights Activist

Muhammad Ali, widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers in history, was not only a sports legend but also an outspoken civil rights activist. The FBI’s interest in Ali stemmed from his association with the Nation of Islam. FBI files revealed concerns about Ali’s creation of “Main Bout Inc.,” which aimed to handle his future public appearances and boxing promotions. The FBI believed that some of the income from this venture might flow to the Nation of Islam’s leader, Elijah Muhammad. While Ali faced investigations and accusations of communist affiliations, he remained committed to his activism and legacy as a trailblazer for African-American athletes.

Jimi Hendrix: The Guitar Virtuoso and FBI Subject

Jimi Hendrix, one of the most influential guitarists in history, caught the FBI’s attention due to his arrest for marijuana possession in Toronto, Canada, in 1969. Hendrix’s trial prompted the FBI to investigate his prior arrests, including those from his hometown of Seattle in 1961. The FBI’s interest in Hendrix primarily revolved around gathering information for the Canadian government’s potential deportation case against him. Ultimately, Hendrix was found not guilty in the drug possession trial, but his life was tragically cut short in 1970, leaving behind an enduring musical legacy.

Biggie Smalls: The Hip-Hop Icon and Unsolved Mystery

Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls, was a rap legend whose murder remains unsolved to this day. The FBI’s files on Biggie relate to their investigation into his death and the attempts to find the perpetrator. While the files contain information about the events surrounding his murder, many details remain redacted, adding to the mystery surrounding his death. The case continues to captivate fans and investigators, making it one of the most intriguing and unresolved mysteries in the music industry.

Ernest Hemingway: The Celebrated Author and Confidential Informant

Even literary giant Ernest Hemingway found himself involved with the FBI during World War II. Living in Cuba at the time, Hemingway’s file reveals that the U.S. government considered using him for intelligence-gathering purposes due to his deep affection for Spain and his relationships with Spanish Republicans who fled to Cuba. Hemingway willingly provided intelligence from 1942 to 1944, contributing to the war effort. Alongside his writing career, Hemingway became a valuable asset in the realm of intelligence.

Charlie Chaplin: The Comedic Icon and Communist Suspect

Charlie Chaplin, the beloved comedian, faced scrutiny from both the American FBI and British MI5 over allegations of communist affiliations. The FBI’s files on Chaplin date back to 1922 when concerns were raised about his potential connections to the Communist Party. However, the majority of the files focus on the Mann Act violation accusations regarding his relationship with Joan Barry. Chaplin was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, but the FBI’s interest, coupled with MI5’s suspicions, added complexity to his illustrious career.


Elizabeth Taylor: The Hollywood Legend and Target of Harassment

Dame Elizabeth Taylor, the iconic actress known for her unforgettable performances, was not immune to harassment and extortion attempts. Taylor’s FBI file covers multiple incidents involving anonymous threats, obsessive fans, and extortionists over several decades. The files reveal the actress’s exposure to an alarming number of threats, reflecting the dark side of fame.

Jackie Robinson: The Baseball Pioneer and FBI Subject

Jackie Robinson, the pioneering African-American baseball player who broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, faced both death threats and FBI investigations throughout his career. The FBI files detail threats made against Robinson during his time as a Dodger and also suggest potential connections to communist organizations. Despite these challenges, Robinson remained committed to civil rights activism throughout his life.

Steve Jobs: The Visionary Entrepreneur and Intelligence Source

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had an FBI file that included information related to his potential appointment to the U.S. President’s Export Council. The files documented Jobs’ background, inquiries into his associates, and investigations into alleged drug use and dishonesty. Despite these concerns, Jobs became a valuable source of intelligence, aiding the FBI with information during his career.

Abbott and Costello: The Iconic Comedy Duo and Their FBI Files

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, the iconic comedy duo behind “Abbott and Costello,” shared FBI files that delved into their personal lives. The files covered everything from Costello’s vast library of obscene films to Abbott’s letters to the FBI inviting J. Edgar Hoover to lunch. While the duo brought laughter to audiences, their FBI files hint at a more complex narrative behind the scenes.

Lucille Ball: The Unfounded Allegations

Lucille Ball, the beloved actress known for “I Love Lucy,” was surprisingly on the FBI’s radar. Her file included false accusations of communist affiliations, which surfaced in 1953. Despite being cleared, the scandal briefly threatened her career. Ball’s legacy as a Hollywood icon remains untarnished.

George Steinbrenner: The Controversial Owner

George Steinbrenner, the long-time owner of the New York Yankees, had an extensive FBI file. He faced legal trouble, including violating election law during Richard Nixon’s campaign. Despite controversies, Steinbrenner’s dedication to the Yankees and contributions to baseball left a lasting legacy.