Michael Whitney Straight

Michael Whitney Straight

Michael Whitney Straight, (September 1, 1916 – January 4, 2004) was an American magazine publisher, novelist, patron of the arts, a member of the prominent Whitney family, and a confessed spy for the KGB.



Born in New York City, Michael Straight was the son of Willard Dickerman Straight and Dorothy Payne Whitney. Straight was educated at Lincoln School in New York City and after his mother's remarriage, in England at his family's Dartington Hall, followed by studies at the London School of Economics.

While a student at Cambridge University in the mid-1930s, Straight became a Communist Party member and a part of an intellectual secret society known as the Cambridge Apostles. Straight worked for the Soviet Union, as part of a spy ring whose members included Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, and KGB recruiter Anthony Blunt.[1] A document from Soviet archives of a report Blunt made in 1943 to the KGB states, "As you already know the actual recruits whom I took were Michael Straight".

After returning to the United States in 1937, Straight worked as a speechwriter for President Franklin Roosevelt, and was on the payroll of the Department of the Interior. Beginning in 1938, Straight carried on a covert relationship with Iskhak Akhmerov, the KGB spy. In 1940, Straight went to work in the Eastern Division of the U.S. State Department.

He served in the United States Army Air Forces beginning in 1942 as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot, and at war's end took over as publisher of his family-owned The New Republic magazine, where he hired former U.S. Vice President and future Presidential candidate Henry A. Wallace as the magazine's editor. Straight left the magazine in 1956 and began writing novels.

However, in 1963, in response to an offer of government employment in Washington, DC, he faced a background check and decided to voluntarily inform family friend and Presidential special assistant, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. about his communist connections at Cambridge, which led directly to the exposure of Blunt as the recruiter of the Cambridge Five spy ring.

Straight later served as the deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1969 to 1977. In 1988, he published "Nancy Hanks: An Intimate Portrait" that told the story of the second chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts with whom he had worked.

In 1983, Michael Straight detailed his communist activities in a memoir titled After Long Silence. (ISBN 0-393-01729-X)

He also wrote two historical novels, (1) A Very Small Remnant,about the Sand Creek massacre of 1864, and (2) Carrington, about the Fetterman massacre of 1866.

In 1939, he married Belinda Crompton of Wilton, New Hampshire. His second wife was Nina G. Auchincloss Steers, a half-sister of the writer Gore Vidal and a stepsister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. His third wife was Katharine Gould, an art historian and social worker.

Michael Whitney Straight died of pancreatic cancer at his home in Chicago, Illinois on January 4, 2004, aged 87.[1]

He was survived by five children (with Belinda Crompton Straight): David Straight, Michael Straight Jr., Susan Straight, Diana Straight Krosnick (wife of cellist Joel Krosnick), and Dorothy Straight, as well as by his wife, Katharine Gould, and four grandchildren.


  1. ^ a b "Michael Straight". The Telegraph. January 7, 2004. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1451875/Michael-Straight.html. Retrieved 2010-03-22. "Michael Straight, who has died aged 87, was the former Soviet spy responsible for telling MI5 that Anthony Blunt - whose lover he had briefly been at Cambridge in the 1930s - was a mole. ..." 

Further reading

  • Michael Straight, After Long Silence, New York: Norton, (1983)
  • Nigel West and Oleg Tsarev, The Crown Jewels: The British Secrets at the Heart of the KGB Archives (London: HarperCollins, 1998; New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), pgs. 112, 116, 130, 133–134.
  • Allen Weinstein, Perjury: The Hiss–Chambers Case, New York: Random House, (1997)
  • Roland Perry,The Last Of The Cold War Spies: The Life of Michael Straight, Da Capo Press (2005)

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Michael Straight — Michael Whitney Straight (1er septembre 1916 4 janvier 2004) est un homme de presse américain, parent de Gore Vidal et de Jacqueline Kennedy. Il est surtout connu pour ses activités d espion au profit du KGB, dans la mouvance des Cinq de… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Michael Straight — Este artículo o sección necesita referencias que aparezcan en una publicación acreditada, como revistas especializadas, monografías, prensa diaria o páginas de Internet fidedignas. Puedes añadirlas así o avisar …   Wikipedia Español

  • Michael Masser — (born Michael William Masser on March 24, 1941 in Chicago)[1], a former stockbroker, is a composer and producer of popular music. He attended the University of Illinois College of Law, but left to pursue his interest in music.[2] Masser and his… …   Wikipedia

  • Whitney Houston — Infobox Musical artist Name = Whitney Houston Img capt = Whitney attends the 2008 Clive Davis Pre GRAMMY party on February 9, 2008 in Los Angeles, California Background = solo singer Birth name = Whitney Elizabeth Houston Alias = The Voice, Nippy …   Wikipedia

  • Whitney Houston — Уитни Хьюстон Whitney Houston Полное имя Уитни Элизабет Хьюстон Дата рождения 9 августа 1963 Место рождения Ньюарк, Нью Джерси, США Страна …   Википедия

  • Michael Jordan — For other people named Michael Jordan, see Michael Jordan (disambiguation). Michael Jordan Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls in 1997 …   Wikipedia

  • Michael Jackson — For other people named Michael Jackson, see Michael Jackson (disambiguation). Michael Jackson …   Wikipedia

  • Michael W. Smith — Para otras personas que se llamen Michael Smith, véase Michael Smith (desambiguación). Michael W. Smith Datos generales Nombre real …   Wikipedia Español

  • Dorothy Payne Whitney — (January 23, 1887 – December 15, 1968) was an American born social activist and philanthropist and a member of the prominent Whitney family. Contents 1 Biography 2 Children 3 References 4 …   Wikipedia

  • Willard Straight — Willard Dickerman Straight (January 31, 1880 – December 1, 1918) was an American investment banker, publisher, reporter and diplomat.An orphan, Straight was born in Oswego, New York. His father had been a faculty member at Oswego Normal School.… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.