Pop Culture

1951 – Looks Can be Deceiving

Bet ya can't guess the job of this mid-century woman.

The woman pictured here was the author of an August 1951 article in McCalls magazine. The 9 page article was written by Elizabeth Bentley who told the story of her job.

If you’re like me, you might have already made an assessment of the woman based on her picture and the period in history. Perhaps she was a secretary for a famous man, or maybe she was a popular radio personality.

The fact is–she was a notorious spy who worked as an agent for Russia and an informant for the FBI. The story that this well-educated US citizen tells is about her once love affair with communism which ended in 1947 after her views changed. Her work as “The Red Spy Queen” gave her a high position in the Russian organization. After deciding to work with the FBI, she was responsible for naming a number of Americans with top ranking US government jobs as fellow spies. The picture shown is from her testifying to congress in 1948. If you’re interested in history, you might want to take a peek at the article. I have scanned it and included it as a download below.

My Life as a Spy - By Elizabeth Bentley - August 1951 McCalls Magazine
My Life as a Spy – By Elizabeth Bentley – August 1951 McCalls Magazine

Elizabeth Bentley published an auto-biography titled “Out of Bondage – My Life as a Spy” in 1951. Upon further research, I learned that a biography titled “Red Spy Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth Bentley” by Kathryn S. Olmsted was published in 2002.

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