Sunday, September 25, 2011

When did Fidel Castro Become a Communist?

Although it is not a question I attempt to answer in The Death of the White Rose, I have been intrigued by the question of how did Fidel, a lawyer, become a communist? I had always assumed that he fell under the influence of the Soviet Union after the revolution, much as Ho Chi Minh turned to communism after the west shunned his advocacy of an independent Indo-China at the peace treaty negotiations at the conclusion of World War One. It is now quite apparent that Fidel became a communist in the beginning of the 50s. His brother, Raul, was indoctrinated into communism when he went to Moscow years before the revolution.
But this begs the question, what turned Fidel toward communism? I’m sure there are some scholarly tomes that have addressed this question. So far, if they are in English, they have not come across my desk. I had heard that in the 40s he had tried to become an actor in Hollywood. Last night, under the loosest definition of research, I watched Easy to Wed, starring Lucille Ball, Van Johnson and Esther Williams. Lucille Ball stole the show. The movie was released in 1947. The plot involved a millionaire duck hunter whose daughter, Esther Williams, was slandered by a NY newspaper while she was on vacation in Mexico City with her father. Father instructs his lawyer to sue the paper for $2 million. The newspaper hires a former reporter, Van Johnson, whose primary skill was the seduction of women. They want him to marry Lucille Ball and then get Esther Williams to seduce him, creating the ability of Lucille Ball to sue Esther for alienation of affection of her spouse. That lawsuit will be used to negotiate a settlement of Esther’s suit against the newspaper. For this service, Van Johnson is to be paid $50,000. Now, it must be remembered that there always had to be a swimming pool scene so that Esther Williams could display her Olympic athletic talent in a pool. The resort they were all staying at had a huge pool with an enormous ramp that appeared much like a ski jump. Esther descended the ramp on a luge and skipped across the pool until gravity stopped her close to the far end, allowing her to swim to the ladder.
Since the pool was at a fancy resort, the pool area was populated with very fancy people sipping tropical drinks and listening to live Latin music.  Seated at a poolside table, wearing only a bathing suit, a drink in his hand, is none other than Fidel Castro! Of course, at that time he did not have Brillo hair and a scraggly beard. While a student at Havana University, he earned extra money doing bit parts. I can only wonder if the superficiality of life in a democracy where people sue for $2 million and are paid $50,000 to gain a negotiating bargaining chip, and where hotel guests in a tropical climate are seen wearing furs, may have made him wonder if there is a sensible alternative to capitalism!
I know it made me wonder why some producer paid real money to the writer to produce this piece of garbage.

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