MCA may be the biggest company many people have never heard of. In 1962 they bought Decca Records and it’s subsidiary, Universal Pictures. They eventual became Universal Studios and when they merged with a TV station, they became NBC/Universal. Today they are part of the vast Comcast empire. And it all almost never happened. It wouldn’t have if Attorney General Robert Kennedy had had his way. For the first half of ’62 Bobby had planned to throw the top men at MCA in prison. Kennedy felt they not only monopolized major sectors of the entertainment industry, but they were guilty of having mob ties as well.
RFK had been chasing mobsters for half a decade. Now as head of the Justice Department he developed a new strategy of using antitrust laws to go after companies with mob connections. MCA had been connected to the mob from their very beginnings.
Excerpt from chapter 13, the murder scenario of The Death of Marilyn Monroe, Book 1:
The MCA Case. The MCA case plays a huge role in this scenario [Murder]. This importance is readily apparent when a timeline of the developments in the case are overlaid onto a calendar of Marilyn’s last weeks. Also important is the brief paragraph in Shirley MacLaine’s memoir about Marilyn, Bobby and the MCA case. I believe MacLaine’s statement clarifies the rumors that were circulating at the time of Marilyn’s death. It was not only rumors of an affair, it was rumors that Monroe was using her “boyfriend” to wage some kind of vendetta she had because of her break with MCA. Rumors of this kind could have been disastrous for her career.
When Monroe was fired, she fought back not only in the press, but by sending telegrams to all her coworkers who were disadvantaged by the cancellation of the film. She wanted them to know it was not her fault and she was ready to get back to work. Less than two weeks before her death, half of Hollywood suddenly found themselves without an agent. July 24, 1962, became known as “Black Tuesday.” The headline of the Daily Variety that day was “MCA DISSOLVES ENTIRE AGENCY.” The government, under RFK’s orders, had decreed that the company known around Hollywood as the “black-suited mafia,” could not sell off it’s talent agency as it had planned. (And it’s plans to take over Universal were put on hold.) The MCA talent agency was just simply gone, as were the agents of some the biggest talent in the industry.
Given the rumors circulating at the time, isn’t it reasonable to assume Marilyn would want to tell everyone that the results of the MCA case were not her fault? We know from Ralph Roberts and Rupert Allan that Marilyn was reaching out to her old publicist for something important. Allan was ill and postponed the meeting. George Barris also confirms Marilyn wanted to talk with him about something important. He was out of town and promised to see her the following week. I believe that what she wanted to talk about with them had a lot to do with clearing the air about MCA. The government had decided to go after MCA long before she knew anything about it, I’m sure she wanted that known.
In Shirley MacLaine’s My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir, she says: “Marilyn Monroe was unhappy with her agency, MCA, during the time of her relationship with Bobby Kennedy. She went to Kennedy and complained. He commenced proceedings that culminated in the breakup of the most powerful talent agency in town.”
About two weeks before Monroe’s death, on July 20, 1962, Time magazine ran a story about MCA called, “After the Octopus”. Here are excerpts from that article:
“For months Hollywood and Vine has buzzed with gossip of a really big show cranking up in the movie capital. Producer: the U.S. Justice Department… Reluctant villain: the mammoth MCA Inc., which acts as agent for half or more of the U.S.’s top actors, is the nation’s largest producer of filmed television shows, leases a library of old movies for late-night…It would be an antitrust epic…”
One week before Marilyn’s death, on July 28, 1962, this appeared in Hedda Hopper’s column: Hollywood…Studio Workers Hail Return of Zanuck. Workers… Government Attorney Leonard Posner, who insisted MCA give up all its clients, is not popular here. (Source: Chicago Tribune)
Also in this same time period a Hollywood Close-Up editorial by Jaik Rosenstein read: “The attack on MCA is a blow that will set Hollywood back five years… This has all the marks of a deliberate vendetta against MCA, and the Justice Department is moving into an area of which it hasn’t the remotest concept… in effect what it has done is to imperil the one organization that has the chance of preserving and maintaining film production in Hollywood…” (Source: The Last Mogul: Lew Wasserman, MCA, and the Hidden History of Hollywood. Dennis McDougal)
In her book, Mr and Mrs Hollywood: Edie and Lew Wasserman and Their Entertainment Empire, Kathleen Sharp says this about MCA and the government’s case: “In New York, the grand jury made little progress because “witnesses were frightened to death,” said one prosecutor. Joseph Cotton had been threatened, Betty Grable had been bribed, and now even investigators were being warned about Werblin and Wasserman, supposed masters of skulduggery. “If you go after [MCA] too hard, watch out for the concrete shoes,” one federal attorney was told.