Elizaveta Mukasei was posted to Los Angeles as a spy for the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1943, according to an interesting Wall Street Journal remembrance today. Mukasei, who died Sept. 19 at age 97, spied among L.A.'s film and emigre communities with her husband, who died last year. They left Los Angeles during World War II, but wrote a memoir a few years ago that told some tales. From the WSJ:
From 1939 to 1943, the couple were posted to Los Angeles, where Mikhail was vice consul at the Soviet Consulate. From their diplomatic perch, the couple gained access to elite Hollywood circles, aided in part by sympathy for America's wartime ally.
The Mukaseis befriended celebrities in the movie industry, Ms. Mukasei wrote in the memoir, though it isn't clear how the couple used these relationships in their intelligence-gathering.
Charlie Chaplin became close to the Mukaseis, she wrote, and they plied him with vodka and presented him with a Russian bear cub on behalf of the Soviet state. Ms. Mukasei also claimed the couple befriended such luminaries as the conductor Leopold Stokowski, the writer Theodore Dreiser and others who they believed were politically connected in Washington.
Their code names were Zephyr and Elza.
Photo: Russian Foreign Intelligence Service in WSJ