August 18, 2003 by AK

Whether or not Stalin ordered John Wayne killed, it is well known that the Great Leader was a big fan of Hollywood movies. As an anecdote goes, he once asked a certain Jewish Soviet composer of popular music whether his brother or cousin lived in the US. The poor musician admitted the truth and answered “yes”, trembling with fear (it was quite dangerous to have a relative abroad those days), but even more afraid of lying to Stalin. “It’s a pity,” said the Leader in his accented Russian, “that you are here and he is there. It would be better if we could swap you for your cousin.” The American relative wrote music for Holliwood movies, which Stalin apparently liked. On the contrary, he despised his own pop artists. He liked to despise people; he tended to do away with those unworthy of contempt.

Note an anachronism in the Reason article linked above: allegedly, “he [Stalin] actually ordered his KGB goons to go kill the star.” KGB was established in 1954, after Stalin’s death. The author should have referred to OGPU, NKVD, NKGB, or MGB.


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