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