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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 29Jan02
By Kent Larsen
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Mormon Job: Harvey 'Job' Matusow, McCarthy Turncoat, Dead at 75

LEBANON, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- Harvey "Job" Matusow, whose flip-flopping allegiances in the 1950s contributed to the downfall of then-Senator Joseph McCarthy, died January 17th at a hospital in Lebanon, New Hampshire, of injuries suffered in a January 2nd auto accident. Matusow later joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served time for perjury, became an activist in many different causes, and established an award-winning children's television program in Arizona. He called himself "Job" because of the tribulations that the McCarthy period brought on him.

Matusow was born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, New York in 1926, where his family gave him the foundation for "a life-long three-ring circus." In order to avoid graduating from High School, Matusow joined the U.S. Air Force, transferred to the infantry and served as a Jew in Germany, where he found the grave of his brother, a pilot shot down over Germany a year earlier.

Returning home from the war, Matusow entered New York Bohemia of Greenwich Village, worked for the Grey Advertising Agency and joined the Communist Party. He also studied and worked in television and theater during the beginning of off-Broadway theater. By the late 1940s he was working full time for the Communist Party, but also started becoming disillusioned with the party and its ideals. In 1950 he contacted the FBI and became an informer on fellow Communists.

After an active duty stint with the Air Force during the Korean war, Matusow became an investigator with the Ohio Un-American Activities Committee, spying on trade unions and at Antioch College, and later assistant editor of the blacklisting newsletter "Counterattack." These activities then led to a job in 1952 working for Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-WI), and to his testimony against 244 artists and intellectuals before the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee. He also testified in a 1952 trial against 13 alleged second-string communist leaders. While working for McCarthy, Matusow twice married and then divorced McCarthy financial supporter and confidant Arvilla Peterson Bentley, a wealthy heiress, and found himself caught up in the highest levels of Washington D.C. society.

It was while he was in Washington D.C. that Matusow first met members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members of the staff of Utah Senator Arthur Vivian Watkins and syndicated columnist Jack Anderson. By 1954, Matusow found that his world was unraveling. His marriage to Arvilla Bentley was unraveling, McCarthy's witchhunt had been discredited and Matusow discovered that the New York artist and intellectual community had 'blacklisted' him for his testimony against suspected Communists. Uncertain of what he was and looking for stability, Matusow started investigating different religions, and eventually decided to join the LDS Church, accepting baptism on October 1, 1954.

Looking to settle down and forget his past, Matusow moved west, and was working in Taos, New Mexico when he received a message that a New York publisher was interested in publishing his account of his time in Washington DC. Returning to New York City, Matusow wrote the book "False Testimony," released in January 1955, and confessed that he had repeatedly lied under oath before both congressional committees and in federal courts. In the book and subsequent testimony, he accused prosecutor Roy M. Cohn of coaching him to give false testimony. With his reputation at an all-time low, Matusow says he stopped attending the LDS Church. "I was afraid to test them on forgiveness," he wrote. And, he adds, "I felt Mormons were hated enough; they didn't need me and my low reputation to bring them down.

A year later Matusow was convicted of perjury, not for his testimony against suspected Communists, but for his claim that Cohn had suborned perjury. During four years in prison, Matusow used the time "like the university I never attended," he later wrote. He devoured books, attended lectures by professors from Bucknell University, painted, and produced and directed four plays, including "Mr. Roberts," which was reviewed by the New York Herald Tribune, and "Arsenic and Old Lace," starring "two Mafia types playing the old ladies."

In his subsequent life, Matusow never got the attention he had received during the McCarthy years, but stayed active in many causes and fighting the injustices he saw in life. He organized a support group for ex-convicts, Jainhouse Anonymous, and immersed himself in the art world, publishing a monthly art magazine for three years and the book "The Art Collector's Almanac." But he found that his reputation from the McCarthy years kept him from succeeding. Frustrated he moved to England in May 1966, where he continued his activist and arts activities. He worked in film, art, radio and music, and, frustrated with the growing influence of impersonal computers in business, wrote "The Beast of Business: A Record of Computer Atrocities" and founded the International Society for Abolition of Data Processing Machines.

By 1973, Matusow returned to the U.S. and started a series of local activist and arts-related activities, including involvement with new age communes, macrobiotic periodicals and spiritual communities. He married and began exploring eastern religions, but he wrote, he "did not give up my Mormon beliefs, but stayed away from the Church for two reasons. Firstly, I didn't want to face or test rejection . . . . The other reason was that blacks could not hold the Priesthood. I made a vow that when blacks could become priests, I would once again be an active member of my church."

Surprisingly, both reasons eventually went away. In 1978 he had "a strong mystical experience," and became convinced that he should return to the LDS Church. While driving through St. David Arizona, one of the oldest Mormon communities in that state, he felt that he should stop there and rent a house. Within days he discovered that the LDS Church had extended the priesthood to members of African-American descent.

He then-wife, Emily, joined the Church, and Matusow began the most stable period of his life. Living in Tucson, Arizona, he started the "Magic Mouse Theatre," a theatre company specializing in shows for children that eventually became a public TV program broadcast on a local PBS TV outlet. The company even became the "official" theatre company of the Tucson Zoo.

Matusow soon became worried about the homeless problem in his city, and started feeding the homeless. In 1983 he started a caravan of vehicles carrying homeless people and headed for Washington D.C. to seek funding. Discovering that advocacy for the homeless was covered by others in the capitol, Matusow went on with his wife to visit Massachusetts, where Emily became ill with what later turned out to be cancer. Stopping all other work, Matusow cared for her until she died in July 1989.

Since then Matusow has lived in Arizona, Utah and New Hampshire, working in television and in homeless services. In Utah he started the state's first public access television station, and developed the character Cockyboo, a clown that told stories to children. He restarted "Magic Mouse Theatre" and won two Public Access National Home Town Video awards in 1993 and 1994. Most recently he moved to New Hampshire again and was working on converting a commune in Massachusetts into a homeless shelter and community center.


Anti-Communist Witness Harvey Matusow, 75, Dies
Washington Post pgB04 28Jan02 P2
By Martin Weil: Washington Post Staff Writer

See also:

Stringless Yo Yo (Matusow's on-line autobiography)
By Harvey "Job" Matusow


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