Who Gets on First?


The Smoking Gun has just posted a 1958 FBI memo attending to the crucial law enforcement issue of Bud Abbot's Lou Costello-like appetite for porn (the long-suffering straight man apparently had some 1,500 girlie flicks).

Elsewhere, TSG has posted FBI material on Costello's similar interest in skin flicks and that most pressing of Cold War questions, Did film tough-guy George Raft have a firm or "a very limp" handshake?

Apart from the cheap thrill of learning about the sad-sack personal fetishes of crappy actors (itself a form of porn), these sorts of documents leave me wondering: What the hell was the FBI doing if it had time to investigage this sort of crap? Weren't there actual crimes or foreign agents these guys could have been busting?

NEXT: In Old Madrid

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  1. Being pretty well established that The FBI investigated everyone who was anyone influential,
    perhaps the revealing of these documents to the public is more of a violation TODAY than the gathering of the information.

  2. Perhaps possessing porn was, at that time, illegal? I don’t know the answer, nor am I trying to argue the larger point about why the FBI would spend it’s resources on such pursuits, just thinking out loud abit.

  3. Denying the existence of organized crime gave Hoover plenty of time to indulge his other interests, such as compiling dossiers on famous people for blackmail purposes.

  4. Just wait until John Ashkroft tries climbing up your ass with a microscope. Had it not been for Sept 11th his main focus would have been attempting to police morality.

    People who select out to be cops are by definition interested in controling people’s behavior and projecting their unacceptable impulses on ‘bad’ people. Funny how Lou’s interest in the nekkid female form was worth scrutiny, but Hoover’s cross dressing didn’t rate.

  5. What happened to his collection?

    P.S. I don’t know if Abbot was a Red, but I suspect that both Curly and Shep were knuckle-heads.

  6. The US Supreme Court first held that private possession of pornography could not be constitutionally prohibited in *Stanley v. Georgia* in 1969. http://laws.findlaw.com/us/394/557.html As of 1958 I think private possession was still (in theory) a crime in California though I don’t think the FBI would have jurisdiction unless there was some evidence of interstate distribution.

  7. Being an Irish guy from Jersey, Lou was probably a Democrat. Thus, the FBI of the day distrusted him and surveilled him … just like they did with Martin Luther King …. or today with anti-war protesters or groups that believe that global trade should include some provisions for human and environmental concerns.
    Cointelpro is back … in a BIG way.

  8. Wow, that’s got to be a record. I mean, here we have an entry about something the government did back in 1958, and we made it through three whole comments before someone brought up John Ashcroft.

  9. Same song, different singer.

  10. Aaron: “People who select out to be cops are by definition interested in controling people’s behavior and projecting their unacceptable impulses on ‘bad’ people.”

    This is an interesting day for definitions. Which dictionary includes projecting impulses in its definition of “cop”?

    Yes, I know, “by definition” is often used today as a rhetorical device. But it’s still bad argumentation.

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