Conspiracies

Lucille Ball: Mistress of Comedy and Counter-Espionage

Lucille Ball (1911-1989)
Lucille Ball (1911-1989)

Lucille Ball (1911-1989) was not only one of the undisputed geniuses of comedy, starring in I Love Lucy, Life With Lucy, and more than 80 motion pictures, but she also played an unplanned and unscripted role in counter-espionage.

In 1942 Lucy was driving home from MGM, where she was filming Du Barry Was a Lady with Red Skelton. It was about 2 a.m., when she suddenly heard music. She said, “I reached down to turn the radio off, and it wasn’t on. The music kept getting louder and louder, and then I realized it was coming from my mouth. I even recognized the tune. My mouth was humming and thumping with the drumbeat, and I thought I was losing my mind. I thought, What the hell is this? Then it started to subside. I got home and went to bed, not sure if I should tell anybody what had happened because they would think I was crazy.”

The next day she shared the experience with Buster Keaton, who asked her if she had been to the dentist recently. As a matter of fact, she had just received several temporary lead fillings a short time earlier. Keaton told her that she was picking up radio broadcasts on those fillings; one of his friends had a similar experience and traced it to the dental implants.

Lucy couldn’t wait to put this theory to the test. At the next opportunity she returned to the location, and again heard sounds, but this time it wasn’t music. She described it as starting softly, “…and then de-de-de-de-de-de. As soon as it started fading, I stopped the car and then started backing up until it was coming in full strength. DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE DE-DE-DE-DE!” She recognized it as Morse code.

This happened in the early days of the U.S. involvement in World War II. A Japanese submarine had been spotted off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, and everyone was watching for anything out of the ordinary that might suggest an attack on the U.S. mainland was imminent. Lucy immediately made a report to the MGM Security Office, who, in turn, reported the incident to federal authorities. The ensuing investigation revealed a covert Japanese radio station run by spies.

See Lucy tell the story to Dick Cavett here.


Spies, Invisible Ink, Toenails, and Other Declassified CIA Secrets

Secret messages written with invisible ink. It sounds like something straight out of a James Bond movie where the fate of the world rests upon the contents of the clandestine communication. It could also be something you attempted as a child, using lemon juice to write a confidential note to your best friend. Either way,…

Keep reading

Acoustic Kitty: the CIA’s Failed Attempt to Train Cats as Spies

Cats are remarkable creatures. Partnering with some of the greatest minds in the scientific community, cats have authored scientific papers, been converted into a telephone, and transformed into glow-in-the-dark creatures of the night. It would seem that even cats have their limitations. They don’t make the best of spies. That, at least, was the conclusion…

Keep reading
#Hartlepool #monkeys

Did a Monkey Get Hanged For Being a French Spy?

Just when we thought we had thoroughly combed the historical record and reported all interesting tidbits on a subject, we are reminded that there is no limit to strange stories from the past. In recent days, Commonplace Fun Facts has brought you the accounts of a town that placed a bunch of insects on trial…

Keep reading

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.