The espionage game is a thankless one. The sign of being good at your job is that nobody can ever know. They are chameleons that can blend into any situation, going unnoticed to collect valuable information. With this in mind, a celebrity would be the last person to come to mind to fulfill this job. That is what makes the people on this list so surprising. So, lets blow the cover of 6 celebrities that you didn’t know were spies.
1. Julia Child
Larger than life, Julia Child, was an unusual choice to be a spy.
With her 6’2 frame and booming voice, she wasn’t exactly stealthy, or someone you’d think would be a good spy. But I guess that is kind of the point right? Child was hired on to the Office of Strategic Services (OOS, which is just a fancy name for the CIA) during WWII. Though we do not know exactly what she did, it is known that she was very successful and rose through the ranks. Apparently she was assigned to listening posts in China and Ceylon.
2. Frank Sinatra
It is well know that Frank Sinatra was no altar boy. He was heavily, and actively involved in the mafia, and stayed active in these illegal activities for most of his life. However, that did not seem to be an issue when the CIA came calling.
According to his daughter, the CIA closed their eyes to Sinatra’s mafia ties because he was a courier for the CIA. Since Sinatra flew on private jets he often carried valuable information and often people, around the world.
3. Cary Grant
Although Cary Grant turned down the role of James Bond, he was a real-life spy employed by the British government. No, he was not trying to steal U.S. secrets or anything, he was assigned to keep tabs on Nazi sympathizers in Hollywood during World War II, like fellow actor Errol Flynn.
Grant was a long supporter of the British cause and donated two films salaries to the British forces. In 1947, Grant received the King’s Medal for services in the cause for freedom.
4. Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee is known in his career for playing some pretty bitchin’ villains. I have no doubt, that some of the inspiration for these roles came from his experiences in WWII.
As a young man Lee signed up for the army and was placed in the intelligence division. Lee was apparently very gifted in whatever the hell they did because he was recruited for the ultra-secret Special Operations Executive. He was then later part of the secret agent unit called “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” — how very British to essentially say they stabbed people when they weren’t looking.
After the war Lee was assigned to track down Nazi criminals and bring them to justice. How badass is this man?!
Side Note: Christopher Lee played Saruman in the Lord of the Rings. At the beginning of the third movie, he gets stabbed in the back by his minion. The director of this trilogy, Peter Jackson, is caught on tape telling Christopher Lee to imagine what it would be like to get stabbed in the back. To this, Lee responded that he did not have to imagine it.
5. Roald Dahl
The famous author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was not just churning out classical books around the time of WWII, he was spying for British intelligence. And who was he spying on? The United States of America. Hey, even friends get nosy and will try and read your texts from time to time right?
The really fantastic part of his story, is how he had to go about doing his intelligence work for the British. His job was to literally get under the covers with influential women, or the wives of powerful men, to find out American secrets and sympathies.
He essentially sexed his way into the information. The best part of this story is that Dahl got involved with a congresswoman Clare Booth Luce, whose husband was also the publisher of Time Magazine. Apparently her sexual appetite was so great that he actually pleaded with British intelligence to allow him to abandon his mission. There response was essentially to suck it up.
6. Harry Houdini
Harry Houdini was an operative for the allied forces during World War I, Scotland Yard, and the U.S. Secret Service.
Houdini would reportedly travel around the world monitoring Russian anarchists and collecting other valuable information for the U.S and British Governments using his world tours as a legitimate excuse to travel the world. Allegedly, some of what Houdini did for the authorities involved going to police stations around the world, and insisting they lock him up, using his escape artistry to wow the local law enforcement — while at the same time collecting bits and pieces of inside data.