Tag Archives: Cold War

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

September 19, 1959

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet
Khrushchev watching Shirley McClain during a Can Can rehearsal
Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Khrushchev had come to power in the Soviet Union following the death of Josef Stalin. He among others, but eventually he was the leader. It was a time of animosity between the West, represented and led by the United States and the Soviet bloc, represented by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

In 1959, the U.S. and Soviet governments surprised the world by announcing that Khrushchev would visit America in September and meet with Eisenhower face to face.

He arrived on September 15 for two weeks and in addition to many planned diplomatic exchanges, Premier Khrushchev wanted to visit Disneyland.

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

September 19, 1959

Khrushchev arrived in Los Angeles around noon that day. He had flown from New York and expressed his disappointment at not having the “opportunity of coming into contact with the ordinary people, the workers, who are the backbone of the life of the city, the producers of its wealth.”

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

Anti Communists lunch with Communist Head

20th Century Fox President Spyros Skouras hosted a luncheon for Khrushchev at the Cafe de Paris, the studio’s commissary. There was a blitz of requests to attend and many Hollywood stars attended such as Frank Sinatra, Gary Cooper, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe among others. Such enthusiasm to attend an event for a Communist leader was ironic given the blacklisting of so many of Hollywood’s writers, directors, and actors earlier in the decade because of supposed or actual ties to the Communist Party. A few, such as Bing Crosby, Ward Bond, and Ronald Reagan, did turn down their invitations. [Perhaps Reagan said, “Mr Khrushchev, I am tearing up this ticket!”]

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

Tomato incident

During the luncheon, the Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker informed Henry Cabot Lodge, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, the he, Parker, could not guarantee the safety of Khrushchev though Parker had thought so earlier. During Khrushchev’s entourage from the airport to 20th Century Fox, someone had thrown a tomato at Khrushchev’s car. It missed, but still worried Parker.

Lodge agreed with Parker’s concerns and said that another event would replace it. Word got to Khrushchev and sent a note to Lodge: “I understand you have canceled the trip to Disneyland. I am most displeased.”

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

Spyros P. Skouras

     Skouras spoke. He represented the immigrant’s American dream. Arriving in the US at 17, selling newpapers, being a bus boy, with his brother investing in a movie theater and then others, by 1932 he managed a chain of 500 theaters.

      He said at the luncheon, “In all modesty, I beg you to look at me, I am an example of one of those immigrants who, with my two brothers, came to this country. Because of the American system of equal opportunities, I am now fortunate enough to be president of 20th Century Fox.”

     Khrushchev’s following remarks included how he, too, had worked his way up from manual labor to be the powerful person he was.

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

Khrushchev Can Can

After the luncheon, Skouras brought Khrushchev to the soundstage where Can-Can was being filmed. They stopped and greeted various celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe.

He said to her, “You’re a very lovely young lady.”

Perhaps presenting a dance scene was not the best choice for the prudish leader. After the dance, he denounced that it was a pornographic exploitation, despite his smiles while watching it.

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet

No M-I-C-K-E-Y

That ended his Hollywood visit and there was no Disneyland for Khrushchev.  Lodge decided that taking the premier on a tour of tract housing developments instead was the alternative.

Politico article

Premier Nikita Khrushchev Disneyland Nyet
Please follow and like us:
error0

Francis Gary Powers

Francis Gary Powers

May 1, 1960
Francis Gary Powers
U-2 spy plane pilot Francis Gary Powers sits in the witness chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 1962. This was his first public appearance since his release by the Russians on February. 10, 1962. He is holding a U-2 model plane. (AP Photo)
Francis Gary Powers

Government dodging

I think I remember something about Francis Gary Powers at the time, but I don’t know when I first heard of him. Not on May 1, 1960 when I was probably outside playing after Sunday dinner and trying not to think about Monday and sitting in Miss Liston’s 4th grade class. Did I have homework that weekend? Had I done it?

Francis Gary Powers had taken off from Afghanistan that day in his U2 jet intending to fly over the Soviet Union, take pictures of likely nuclear missile installations, and land in Norway. Flying at 70,000 feet, military experts said he was beyond the reach of Soviet missiles.

In 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower had proposed an “open skies” plan, in which each country would be permitted to make overflights of the other to conduct mutual aerial inspections of nuclear facilities and launchpads. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev refused the proposal.

The US’s U2 spy plane program was a secret program aimed at bypassing that refusal. Flying over a country without permission could be considered an act of war. The program began in 1956.

The Soviets did track some flights, but could not prove that the US was conducting them. The Soviets remained silent because announcing their knowledge of the flights would also reveal their inability to shoot them down.

Until May 1, 1960.

Francis Gary Powers

U2 shot down

The flight had been normal until explosions suddenly broke off a U2 wing and shut down its controls. To use the automatic bailout system with the plane in freefall would have severed his legs. He tried to bail out manually and was nearly sucked out of the plane when he removed its canopy. He also realized that he couldn’t reach the plane’s self-destruct button.

When the US government found out about the situation, it assumed that the plane was destroyed and Powers killed. The government released a story that it was not a spy but a weather plane that had gone off course. A “NASA” painted model was used for exhibit. Eisenhower confirmed the story.

Until the Soviets released pictures of the plane, mostly intact, and Powers, alive. A planned summit between Eisenhower and Khrushchev went south. The Soviets tried Powers on August 17 and found him guilty of espionage two days later. The court sentenced Power to 10 years in prison.

Francis Gary Powers

James B Donovan

Three months later, the US elected John F Kennedy president and Powers became his problem. On February 10, 1962 James B Donovan completed his successful negotiation for the exchange of Powers, along with American student Frederic Pryor, for Rudolf Abel.

Ironically, Donovan had defended Abel five years earlier in American courts and though losing the case, was able to defeat the government’s request for the death penalty.


The exchange took place on the famous Glienicke bridge in Berlin – the “bridge” referred to in the title of the 2015 film Bridge of Spies.

Francis Gary Powers
The Glienicke bridge just after the Powers swap on 10 February 1962
Francis Gary Powers

Back Home

Back from the USSR, Powers underwent the questioning scrutiny of the American media. Why had he co-operated with the Soviets? Why hadn’t he committed suicide?

A Senate committee hearing in 1962 gave Powers a chance explain.The committee fully exonerated him and awarded $50,000 in back pay to cover the period of his incarceration in Russia.

He took a job as a pilot for a television news station and died in a helicopter crash on August 1, 1977.

He is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery where his tombstone includes two honors, both awarded posthumously: the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Prisoner of War medal.

Francis Gary Powers
photo by Edward (Ted) Tyler
Francis Gary Powers
Please follow and like us:
error0

Executive Order 10450

Executive Order 10450

April 27, 1953

President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450.

Executive Order 10450When the Cold War began, irrational fear of anything associated with Communism ruled the day. Clever politicians looking to gain patriotic points simply associated fringe members of society with Communism to disgrace them and sometimes imprison them.

The LGBTQ community was included in this wide-ranging persecution. Historically this period before the Stonewall riots and their marking a new era of activism is known as the Lavender Scare.

Executive Order 10450

          The text of the executive order began with:

 Sec. 8. (a) The investigations conducted pursuant to this order shall be designed to develop information as to whether the employment or retention in employment in the Federal service of the person being investigated is clearly consistent with the interests of the national security. Such information shall relate, but shall not be limited, to the following:

(1) Depending on the relation of the Government employment to the national security:

 (i) Any behavior, activities, or associations which tend to show that the individual is not reliable or trustworthy.

(ii) Any deliberate misrepresentations, falsifications, or omissions of material facts.

(iii) Any criminal, infamous, dishonest, immoral, or notoriously disgraceful conduct, habitual use of intoxicants to excess, drug addiction, sexual perversion(my emphasis)

(iv) Any illness, including any mental condition, of a nature which in the opinion of competent medical authority may cause significant defect in the judgment or reliability of the employee, with due regard to the transient or continuing effect of the illness and the medical findings in such case.

(v) Any facts which furnish reason to believe that the individual may be subjected to coercion, influence, or pressure which may cause him to act contrary to the best interests of the national security.

(2) Commission of any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, or sedition, or attempts thereat or preparation therefore, or conspiring with, or aiding or abetting, another to commit or attempt to commit any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, or sedition.

Executive Order 10450
New Yorker, June 17, 1950

 

At that time, nearly all of society, including medical professionals, considered homosexuality a sexual perversion. In fact, it wasn’t until December 15, 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association removed the designation of homosexuality as a mental illness.  (NIH article)

The American Psychological Association, a different professional group, removed its designation of homosexuality as unhealthy in 1975. (2003 APA article)

Please follow and like us:
error0

What's so funny about peace, love, art, and activism?

Follow by Email
Facebook0
Facebook