We like to think that secret agents, coded messages and undercover saboteurs only belong in cheesy movies, but spies are very real. In fact, these 10 celebrities all lived a double life as spies during the Second World War:
The glamorous German actress burned up the screens in the ’30s and ’40s, but when the war broke out both America and Germany questioned her allegiance. Dietrich publicly condemned the Nazis, and did USO tours for troops overseas. But she was also investigated by the FBI, and had family living in Germany during the war.
The organization later enlisted her, giving the actress a chance to prove her dedication to America by “collecting observations about subversive activities in Europe” during her tours. To this day, historians debate whether Dietrich was an American spy or a double agent.
The children’s book author was actually a Royal Air Force pilot at the start of the war, when a painful crash forced him to take a desk job instead. He moved to Washington, D.C., where he wrote British propaganda for American newspapers.
Eventually Dahl was given a much livelier job: seducing the wives and female relatives of American VIPs to learn their secrets. This included Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce, who was married to the publisher of Time magazine and so smitten with Dahl that he asked to be reassigned somewhere else.
Before her success as a celebrity chef, Child rose through the ranks of the Office of Strategic Services, which would later become the CIA. Starting out as a clerk, she was eventually promoted to a research position, developing shark repellent for underwater missions.
Later, Child was assigned to listening posts in far-off locations like China and Sri Lanka, where she recorded secret messages intercepted by the government.
In the ’20s and ’30s, Berg was nicknamed “the brainiest man in baseball.” Along with being a star player for the Dodgers, Berg was a Princeton grad who spoke 12 languages and earned four degrees, including a law degree from Columbia that he earned while playing ball.
When he was traded to the Washington Senators, Berg was recruited to spy for the U.S. government on his trips overseas. He recorded footage of Japanese military installations, and was once caught trying to sneak onto an air base.
Berg’s most dangerous mission was a fact-finding trip to Germany, where he would identify if the Nazis were close to making a working A-bomb. If they were, Berg was told to shoot the project’s head physicist Werner Heisenberg. Thankfully, he realized they were years away from building the weapon.
Keep reading to learn about more celebrity spies, including Cary Grant and Ol’ Blue Eyes himself…