Over the years, the film industry has produced a plethora of films that capitalise on the theme of espionage and the life of a spy. Due to the illusive nature of those who work with top-secret government intelligence, a whole host of different characters have been concocted in a bid to represent the life of a person with one of the most mysterious occupations on the planet. We’ve been shown debonair men, who drive around in extravagant cars and adorn expensive suits, like the infamous James bond, to the more unassuming and calculating spy characters such as George Smiley. The new film Our Kind Of Traitor reimagines the spy once again, this time through the eyes of an unsuspecting couple who are thrust between the Russian Mafia and British Intelligence, neither of whom are as clear-cut good and bad as one would assume.
To celebrate the release of Our Kind Of Traitor, we step away from the film industry’s perception of a spy, and instead look at some real-life spy heroes. We’ve blown the cover of some recognisable faces that we would wager you had no idea were involved in such top secret activities!
Long before he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl was a fighter pilot for the British Royal Air Force during World War II. Due to sustaining several serious injuries, Dahl was rendered unable to fly, and a whole new role was found for him. Dahl was transferred to work within a vein of the secret service network, based in the United States. Dahl was highly successful in his new, top-secret role, managing to pass on several useful pieces of intelligence.
Julia Child is renowned for being a culinary queen, famous for her French cuisine- she also cooked up a secret double life as a spy. Despite being too tall to enlist in the Women’s Army, Child was determined to contribute to the war effort, and subsequently joined the Office of Strategic Services in the secret intelligence division. She had a dynamic and successful career as an intelligence officer, with her new occupation leading her too far off lands, such as China, Sri Lanka and the US for top-secret assignments.
The American-born, French dancer, singer and civil rights activist became iconic for her energetic dancing and scantily clad, risqué, musical performances. Josephine’s occupation as a dancer meant that she often travelled around France, which is a fantastic cover for her involvement with the French Resistance. She was able to move around France with ease, without arousing suspicion as to the nature of her travels. The fame she enjoyed acted as a perfect cover up for her other role of employment: a spy. Baker successfully relayed information that she overheard from officials that would attend her performances. Her exploits did not go unnoticed; she was awarded military honours for her acts of espionage.
Houdini is universally recognised for his awe-inspiring illusions and miraculous escape acts, however what is less widely known, is that he had a second occupation, working as a spy for Scotland Yard. Houdini’s duties included the monitoring of Russian anarchists and hunting counterfeiters for the US Secret Service. In return for his services, Houdini got access to some secret information that he used to further his career as an illusionist.
Frank Sinatra is best known for his incredible voice, creating timeless, jazz classics that are just as popular today as they were when he was alive. However, Frank was not solely involved in music, he also had close ties to the American mafia and the CIA. Sinatra is reported to have worked as a courier for American intelligence because of his occupation as a musician, similarly to Josephine Baker. Frank was so popular and was subsequently constantly touring the world, with his stardom taking him to far-off lands to play for his multitude of fans. Frank’s status as a star provided the perfect cover for his involvement in couriering high-profile, secret messages.
Author Ian Fleming, the creator of arguably the most famous fictional spy – James Bond, created the series of novels by plundering his own experiences as a spy when working for the British Naval Intelligence. Fleming was secretly trained at MI6’s headquarters in Bletchley Park and subsequently had a throng of real life experiences to draw upon when creating the infamous James Bond. Many believe that Fleming’s behaviour, including his sexual antics and unrelenting drinking habits are echoed in the pages of his novels, especially in his portrayal of the character Bond.
OUR KIND OF TRAITOR is released on EST from 5th September 2016 and on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD on 12th September 2016.