James Bond screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz was a suspected Soviet spy
Wolf Mankowitz who introduced producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli to each other, helped write their first film Dr No, as well as a spoof version of Casino Royale.
But at Cambridge University, once a breeding ground for communist spies, he had joined the university communist society, provoking the suspicion of MI5 - reports the Telegraph
The security service ran a file on him for 14 years, which has been released to the National Archives, and photographed him as he visited the Soviet Consulate on four separate occasions.
Born in Bethnal Green in 1924, Mankowitz was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, who had improved on his East-end schooling by reading the second-hand books in which his father dealt, winning an exhibition in English literature to Downing College, Cambridge.
After leaving he began selling antiques and built up a renowned collection of Wedgwood pottery.
MI5âs first report from June 1944 related to his wife, Ann Seligman, who was on a list discovered by agents and thought to be the proposed branch committee of Cambridge University communist society.
In September 1948, the Central Office of Information asked for information on Mankowitz after he applied for a temping job and was told he was âthe husband of a communist party member and himself a convinced Marxist.â He was turned down for the job.
Sir Percy Sillitoe, the director general of MI5, circulated a letter asking for information from chief constables in April 1949 but nothing new emerged.
A memo from the BBC to MI5 in November said he was a contributor to programmes from time to time and described himself as a freelance writer and lecturer, who had written for magazines including the Spectator.
MI5 replied that he would be a security risk if he was given access to classified information â which seemed unlikely since he was working on a translation of a Chekhov play.
A press cutting from October 1956 said he wanted to set up a British-Soviet co-film production which might explain observation logs from MI5 officers watching the Soviet Consulate which recorded him arriving by taxi four times between October 1955 and December 1956.
On one occasion the report noted: âFawn duffle coat, dark hairâ on another âblue zip jacket, grey trousers.â
A report from December 1956 from âan established and usually reliable sourceâ was stamped in red âuse with cautionâ and said Mankowitz was an active member of the British Soviet Friendship Society.
MI5 at least discovered he had a shared interest with James Bond in sex. During an interview with the societyâs magazine from February 1957, soon after a trip to the USSR, he commented on the treatment of sex in Soviet novels, saying: âThe Russians underestimate the importance of sex as grossly as the Americans exaggerate it. They treat it as if it didnât exist. No-one will admit to having problems in their sex life. I found it almost impossible to get anybody to discuss seriously the Soviet attitude towards sex, though somebody did eventually admit to me that there was quite a lot of adultery.â
Mankowitz hosted a Friday night chat show on ITV and in March 1958 his guest Ludovic Kennedy finally confronted him with allegations he was a communist.
âIâm not a communist. Iâm an anarchist,â he replied.
He was in any case, ill-suited for spying - his commanding officer during his National Service observed: âA highly strung individual of nervous temperament. Even if he harnesses communist views, I do not think he has the personality of strength of character to force them on to his fellow soldiers.â
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