McCarthy names “a notorious homosexual”

McCarthy speaking before the Tydings Committee, March 14, 1950.

Two months had passed since Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) began saying that he had a long list of names of Communists, Commie-sympathizers, and homosexuals in the U.S. State Departments. The numbers kept changing every time he spoke: from 205 to 57, to 220, then 81. He kept promising to hand the names over to investigators. But when the time came, McCarthy dribbled them out, a few at a time, always in public, and in ways that ensured maximum publicity — for him.

His venue now was a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee, tasked with investigating McCarthy’s charges. McCarthy had been its star witness for the better part of a week when, on March 14, he publicly announced four more names. He accused Gustavo Durán, a former State Department employee now at the U.N., of being a “rabid Communist.” He accused Dr. Harlow Shapely, a Harvard astronomer, of having “a long and interesting record” of membership in Communist-front organizations. He said that Frederick Schuman, an international relations professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, sponsored several “Communist front organizations in America.” And he called Far East expert John Stewart Service a “bad security risk” whose “Communist affiliations are well known.” Durán, Shapely, and Schuman were relatively unaffected by McCarthy’s charges. None of them were State Department employees. But the State Department fired Service. He spent the next eight years trying, and ultimately succeeding, in getting his job back.

McCarthy also gave a few details about a fifth person. “Because of the sordid details of this case,” he began, “I will not make public the name of this man.” (He did provide it privately.) McCarthy prefaced this set of remarks by reminding the subcommittee of State Department Undersecretary John Peurifoy’s remarks of February 28. That’s when Peurifoy told a Senate Appropriations Committee that the State Department had already dismissed 91 homosexuals since 1947. They were dismissed as “security risks” because, the thinking went, they were vulnerable to blackmail. One of them was fired, and the rest were allowed to resign. This bothered several Senators, including McCarthy, who thought they all should have been fired.

McCarthy began this latest revelation by agreeing “with the official position of the State Department; namely, that homosexuals are poor security risks.” He then went on to describe this particular “risk”:

This individual was employed in the Foreign Service and the State Department until 1948 when he resigned for reasons unknown to me. I had received information from several sources that this man was a notorious homosexual. A check of the records of the Metropolitan Police Department indicated that these reports were true. I now hand the Chair, for your executive consideration, a copy of a police report, together with a police photograph and the official biography of this individual as it appeared in the State Department Register of April, 1948.

…You will note from the police records that this man was arrested on September 8, 1943. The charge was sexual perversion and the police report states that he was known to hang out at the men’s room, at Lafayette Park in Washington.

This man is getting about $12,000 a year now (about $130,000 today).

He was charged with disorderly conduct in connection with his perverted activities. I do not have the record of the disposition of this case available, but I am informed that he was required to post collateral of $25 on this charge and forfeited collateral.

As I previously said, this man resigned from the State Department in 1948 and shortly thereafter became employed in one of the most sensitive agencies of our Government where he now holds an important and high-paying position.

On questioning, McCarthy revealed that this man was now at the CIA. McCarthy continued:

In view of this man’s criminal record, which I have just presented to the committee, and other information concerning his lack of moral fitness, I am at a loss to understand why he was allowed to resign from the State Department.

I might say, in connection with that, it seems unusual to me, in that we have so many normal people, so many competent Americans, that we must employ so many very, very unusual men in Washington. It certainly gives the country an odd idea of the type of individuals who are running things down here.

McCarthy said he thought the State Department had allowed these homosexuals to resign “so they could take over some other Government jobs.”
(In fact, Peurifoy had testified that even though those employees had resigned, the reasons they were asked to resign were still entered into their records and forwarded to the Civil Service Commission.) McCarthy continued:

As I said earlier in this statement, I do not know why the individual who is the subject of my present case was allowed to resign; but I think it is the responsibility of this committee to find out the full facts concerning his resignation.

I also believe that the committee should immediately determine how this individual was able to stay in the Department for almost 5 years after he was arrested on a morals charge in Washington, D.C.

I also think the committee should find out how he, after leaving the State Department, was able to get a top-salaried, important position in another sensitive Government agency. It should be of considerable interest to this committee to find out who sponsored this individual or who intervened in his behalf in both the State Department and his present place of employment.


McCarthy gave this testimony on Tuesday morning., early enough to make the afternoon papers. Left for the following morning’s coverage would be that afternoon’s hearings before the same subcommittee, when former Judge Dorothy Kenyon answered charges that she was a Communist fellow traveler.

Dorothy Kenyon testifying before the Tydings Committee on March 14.

The week before, Kenyon had been the first person McCarthy accused by name. According to McCarthy, Kenyon, a popular women’s and civil rights activist, was a member of twenty-eight Communist front organizations. Kenyon branded McCarthy an “an unmitigated liar” and “a coward to take shelter in the cloak of Congressional immunity.”

She demanded a hearing, and her appointment was set for the afternoon of March 14, right after McCarthy’s testimony. Kenyon’s rebuttal was as meticulous as it was devastating. The audience applauded when she was done, and Sen. Bourke Hickenlooper (R-IA) apologetically said there wasn’t the slightest evidence she was eve disloyal. McCarthy himself, though, missed her performance. He decided he was needed elsewhere and was nowhere in sight. And in the days that followed, he completely lost interest in her.

On the Timeline:


Feb 9, 1950: McCarthy tells an audience in Wheeling, WV, that he has a list of 205 Communists in the State Department.

Feb 20, 1950: McCarthy links homosexuality and Communism.

Feb 27, 1950: Commerce Department official says no homosexuals have been dismissed from the department.

Feb 28, 1950: The State Department reports dismissing 91 homosexuals.

This story:

Mar 14, 1950: McCarthy names five “bad security risks,” including one homosexual.


Mar 21, 1950: Columnist George E. Sokolsky says homosexuals are “advantageously stationed” in the State Department.

Mar 23, 1950: Robert C. Ruark’s column warns of homosexuals “traveling in packs.”

Mar 24, 1950: Robert C. Ruark follows up with “a drunk, a homosexual, and a flagrant fool.”

Mar 24, 1950: Westbrook Pegler says homosexuals in government weren’t a problem before FDR.


For March 14, 1950:
President: Harry S. Truman (D)
Vice-President: Alben W. Barkley (D)
House: 262 (D) 169 (R) 2 (Other) 2 (Vacant)
Southern states: 102 (D) 2 (R) 1 (Vacant)
Senate: 54 (D) 42 (R)
Southern states: 22 (D)
GDP growth: 7.3 % (Annual)
3.0 % (Quarterly)
Fed discount rate: 1½ %
Inflation: -0.8 %
Unemployment: 6.4 %

Headlines: The deadline for filing Federal income tax returns is midnight tonight. McCarthy names four State Department associates as “bad security risks.” Dorothy Kenyon cites extensive record and documents to refute McCarthy’s charges. Witness before House Un-American Activities Committee accuses unions of aiding Communist propaganda. The witness also says that the Reds plan to use, then liquidate, liberals in their plan to take over America. Paul Robeson’s scheduled television appearance is cancelled after callers jam NBC’s switchboards. New York City authorizes $50,000 (about $530,000 today) for an experimental cloud-seeding program to relieve the city’s water shortage.

In the record stores: “Chattanoogie Shoe Shine Boy” by Red Foley, “Music! Music! Music! (Put Another Nickel In)” by Teresa Brewer and the Dixieland All-Stars, There’s No Tomorrow, by Tony Martin, “The Cry of the Wild Goose” by Frankie Lane, “Rag Mop” by the Ames Brothers, “I Said My Pajamas” by Tony Martin and Fran Warren, “It Isn’t Fair” by Don Cornell and the Sammy Kaye Orchestra, “Quicksilver” by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, “If I Knew You Were Coming I’d’ve Baked a Cake” by Eileen Barton. “Rag Mop” by Ralph Flanagan and his Orchestra.

Currently in theaters: Love Happy, starring the Marx Brothers. Filmed in 1948, the movie includes a small walk-on part for Marylin Monroe.

On the radio: Lux Radio Theater (CBS), Jack Benny Program (CBS), Edgar Bergan & Charlie McCarthy (CBS), Amos & Andy (CBS), Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS), My Friend Irma (CBS), Walter Winchell’s Journal (ABC), Red Skelton Show (CBS), You Bet Your Life (NBC), Mr. Chameleon (CBS).

On television: The Lone Range (ABC), Toast of the Town/Ed Sullivan (CBS), Studio One (CBS), Captain Video and his Video Rangers (DuMont), Kraft Television Theater (NBC), The Goldbergs (CBS), Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts (CBS), Candid Camera (NBC), Texaco Star Theater/Milton Berle (NBC), Hopalong Cassidy (NBC), Cavalcade of Stars/Jackie Gleason (DuMont), Meet the Press (NBC), Roller Derby (ABC).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier, The Egyptian by Mika Waltari, The King’s Cavalier by Samual Shellabarger. Non-fiction: The Mature Mind by H.A. Overstreet, This I Remember by Eleanor Roosevelt, Home Sweet Zoo by Clare Barnes.


State Department Employee Loyalty Investigation. Tuesday, March 14, 1950. Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate (Tydings Committee), 81st Cong., 2nd sess. part 1:   109-175. Available online here. The “notorious homosexual” appears on pages 128-130.

Homosexuals and Decay on West 42nd Street

New York’s Forty-Second Street — they called it “the Deuce.” It starts at the United Nations, and goes west past Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, Times Square, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and, as the Lincoln Highway, continues west all the way to San Francisco. One city block of that famous street, just south of Times Square between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, was filled with “grindhouse theaters” — cheap movie houses of questionable character. And if questionable characters weren’t in the movie houses, they were in the arcades, peep shows, diners and bars that lined the street. Or they were plying their trade on the corners and dark alleys.

The block had defied clean-up campaigns since the Great Depression. On March 14, 1960, The New York Times studied its decay and agreed that it might be the worst block in town. True, there were probably worse neighborhoods, but they were much less visible, especially to tourists. New York City was getting ready to host a World’s Fair in 1964. Tourists were coming to Times Square, which itself had seen better days. Any unsuspecting tourist walking just a block south from there would see a New York City that wasn’t mentioned in any of the travel brochures.

The New York Times investigated all of those problems: crime, grime, con jobs, prostitution, menacing-looking toughs roaming the streets. The Times also singled out homosexuals as “an obvious problem”:

Homosexual males converge in the area and are most prevalent at the Eight Avenue end of the block. The clergy, the police, merchants and business organizations generally agree that homosexuality has increased in the area for a period of several years. …

It becomes swiftly apparent to an inquirer that even the neighborhood “experts” are not of one mind as to who is a homosexual. In the beatnik era — and an era of relaxed standards of dress at many levels of the population — it is impossible to equate the way a man dresses and speaks with a behavior pattern that is against the law.

One high police official held that although homosexuality appeared to have increased, the “flagrant” deviates — those who wear make-up, a feminine hair-do, and walk with a “swish” — had decreased.

Lieut. Co. Jack Eaken, who commands the Armed Services Police that patrol the area, disagreed. He was sure that whether or not homosexuality in general had increased, its “flagrant” nature was more apparent.

In two weeks of studying the area, at virtually all hours, this reporter encountered several fo the most extreme types. One was a Negro who wore fluffed-up hair and heavy black make-up on his brows and lashes. He was surrounded, almost protectively, by  group of other Negro youths who were more or less normally dressed.

Another obvious deviate was a white youth with thick blond hair and handsome features who wore make-up on his eyebrows. This youth wore a black windbreaker (sometimes called a “tanker jacket”) and tapered black trousers of the style known as “continentals.” His wavy hair was combed straight back and he spoke effeminately and shifted his hips and legs as he spoke.

The interesting and puzzling thing was that his companions were three girls and two youths all of whom seemed like any other youngsters on a double or tripple date. They seemed to take the blond boy’s appearance and manner for granted. At one point he went into a corner cigar shore while one of the girls made a phone call. The other two girls waited at the door. Something the blond said amused them and one said cheerfully: “He’s such a bird — he really is.”


Denizens of the Deuce from 1960 wouldn’t recognize it today. The theaters that remain are renovated and showing more family fare. Before catching the latest Disney show at the New Amsterdam Theater, they can swing through the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and stop for a bite to eat at McDonalds, Applebees or Dave & Buster’s.

On the Timeline:

March 14, 1960: The New York Times investigates homosexuals and decay on West 42nd Street.


Headlines for March 14, 1960: British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan is in Paris for talks with De Gaulle on the eve of Khrushchev visit. Southern Senators continue their filibuster of an already watered-down civil rights bill. West German Chancellor Adenauer is in Washington, pledges a Democratic West Germany. Moscow insists a unified Germany can only happen under Communism. The U.S. Air Force’s Pioneer V  satellite begins sending radio signals to earth from its solar orbit between Earth and Venus. Tallahassee police use tear gas to break up a peaceful civil rights march through downtown.

On the radio: “The Theme from ‘A Summer Place'” by Percy Faith and His Orchestra, “He’ll Have To Go” by Jim Reeves, “Handy Man” by Jimmy Jones, “Wild One” by Bobby Rydell, “What In the World’s Come Over You” by Jack Scott, “Teen Angel” by Mark Dinning, “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin, “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” by Dinah Washington and Brook Benton, “Let It Be Me” by the Everly Brothers, “Running Bear” by Johnny Preston.”

Currently playing on 42nd street: Riot In Juvenile Prison.

On television:  Gunsmoke(CBS), Wagon Train (NBC), Have Gun, Will Travel (CBS), The Andy Griffith Show(CBS), The Real McCoys(ABC), Rawhide (CBS), Candid Camera (CBS), The Price is Right (NBC), The Untouchables (ABC), The Jack Benny Show (CBS), Bonanza (NBC), Dennis the Menace (CBS), The Danny Thomas Show (CBS) The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS), My Three Sons (ABC), Perry Mason (CBS) The Flintstones (ABC), 77 Sunset Strip (ABC).

New York Times best sellers: Fiction: Hawaii by James Michener,  Advise and Consent by Allen Drury (Pulitzer Prize winner). The Constant Image by Marcia Davenport. Non-fiction: May This House Be Safe from Tigers, by Alexander King, Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health by D.C. Jarvis, Act One: An Autobiography by Moss Hart.


Milton Bracker. “Life on W. 42d St. A Study in Decay.” The New YorkTimes (March 14, 1960): 1, 26.