Emile de Antonio, filmmaker.
His first introduction to the political left came in November 1946 when he was invited to a neighbourhood party for members of the American Youth for Democracy (AYD), which a year later would be listed as a Communist front. He enjoyed the camaraderie and the folk, union and protest songs he heard sung. He joined AYD and became the club’s education and social director. [Lichtman]
‘It didn't take long before I joined the A.Y.D., went to meetings, got petitions signed…The fear and hysteria of McCarthyism hadn't begun, nor had the Cold War moved into top-gear. Communists, communism didn't frighten me or generate any feelings of hate in me. Just fought a war allied with them. Met quite a few of them in
1949-51: ‘Was part of the folk music revival of the 40s. Was a Broadway agent, worked for the agency that handled Dean Martin before he joined Jerry Lewis. As a hopeful comic, lived the night club life…Won subscription drive for Daily Worker and got free trip to Puerto Rico…met and married Kay, a working journalist for the Black newspaper The
‘By 1950, he either sensed an opportunity for money and fame, or (according to him) needed to protect his own ass, so he contacted the FBI and began his four year long career as a paid informer for anyone in need of an anti-Communist accuser with bona fide red street cred… [he] ultimately destroyed the lives of hundreds of innocent Americans, communists and non-communists alike.’ WNFU's Beware of the Blog
1950-52: Contacted the FBI and became an informer. The Korean War began. Kay and I separated and I left New York heading for San Francisco…[but] truck broke down in Taos, New Mexico, Went to art school, ran local pool hall, became gofer for Mable Dodge and Freida Lawrence. Got called to active duty in Air Force.
1951-53: The McCarthy years. Worked my way out of US Air Force into a job as an investigator for The
In 1952, went to work for Senator McCarthy…After election, went to work for [him] with specific purpose to help undermine public trust in the New York Times.
[He] once reported that 126 Communists worked in the Sunday Department of the New York Times even though the total number of employees was 100. [Wikipedia]
In 1952 he went to work for Senator Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn who put him on their payroll and encouraged his tendency to create lists of communists out of thin air. Among Matusow's targets during this period of time were The New York Times and The Girl Scouts.
WNFU's Beware of the Blog
1953-54: Married and divorced twice to McCarthy financial supporter, Arvilla Peterson Bentley. Moved into her large mansion [in
1954: Returned to New York where I buried myself in writing poetry, doing some off Broadway Theatre, and some up-tight, sometimes feeble, attempts at stand-up comedy…Did some radio and realized that I was now blacklisted, and found it almost impossible to find theatre work…Was baptised in Mormon Church (Oct. 1, 1954). Attempts to get book, ‘Blacklisting Was My Business’, published.
1954-1955: I received a message from and called Albert Kahn of the book publishing firm of Cameron & Kahn. They had heard about the book I was writing, and seemed interested in publishing it. Returned to
1954-1956: I was in such disrepute, I stopped going to Mormon Church. Was afraid to test them on forgiveness…Started to hang around my old
In 1954, either because he felt remorse over the destruction he caused, or because he sensed another quick buck, he came clean on his years of lying and perjury with his book False Witness. In it, he truthfully accused Cohn and McCarthy of keeping him on the payroll as a paid witness and a professional liar. For once, Matusow was telling the truth, but Roy Cohn didn't see it that way. Cohn accused him of lying in the book, and in the ensuing trial, Matusow was convicted of perjury and sentenced to five years in prison... As a professional liar, Matusow had been the toast of the town, but for finally telling the truth, he was imprisoned. It was then that he was dubbed "The Most Hated Man in
[April 1st 1957]: Met fourth wife, Beatrice Swope Lysander. She was the best writer I have ever known. She was hanging out at Louis' Tavern, under The Circle In The Square Theatre, and was with our mutual friend, Steve McQueen. Steve and Lee Marvin and I used to deliver TV sets for Jerry Francis from his shop on west 10th street…Bea was also a "den mother" to many of the Village poets of the Beat Generation (Howard Hart, Sy Krim, Jack Micheline and a few others).
It was 1957, and the Warren Supreme Court, using me as a prime reason, upset almost every rule and law that the government was using to persecute the left. They refused to grant me a hearing on appeal, and I went back to prison.
On the eve of my return to prison, Bea and I went to see the Henry Fonda movie, Twelve Angry Men, and after the movie went to have a farewell party at the journalist Bill Dufty's house. Bill and his wife Maley, and the singer Billie Holiday threw a farewell party. Billie and I shared notes about Federal prisons. [Bea, Bill & I] went to the Federal Court House where I surrendered to the
1956-1960: General reflection on prison life. My work in the athletic department. Captain of the tennis team and the volley ball team. I treated prison like the university I never attended. I devoured books, attended lectures given by
1956-1960: The day Wilhelm Reich died he was in the next cell…In the general population he was known as "The Sex Box Man", and the folk tales regarding his orgone box were more then surreal.
Sources: Italic quotes and bold chronological entries: from the ‘Stringless Yo-Yo’. Chronological entries edited to correct mistypings and misspellings, to shorten it and, in some cases, to make it read more fluently. Other sources indicated.