Harvey Matusow  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Harvey Matusow (aka Harvey Job Matusow) (October 3, 1926January 17, 2002) was a U.S. Communist who protected himself from HUAC by providing evidence against his former left-wing colleagues. His false accusations led to his own perjury conviction and to being blacklisted. His McCarthy era activities overshadowed his later work as an artist, actor and producer.

Matusow was a member of the American Communist Party and worked as a journalist and a stage and radio actor. He appeared in the leftist plays Waiting for Lefty (by Clifford Odets) and The Cradle Will Rock (by Marc Blitzstein).

To prevent himself being blacklisted, Matusow agreed to go provide HUAC information about other comrades. He also became editor of the right-wing magazine Counterattack and worked as a campaign aide to Joseph McCarthy. While working as an informant, Matusow provided information against folksingers (such as Pete Seeger) and once reported that 126 Communists worked in the Sunday Department of the New York Times even though the total number of employees was 100. Matusow claimed that he had known Clinton Jencks of the Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers Union to be a member of the American Communist Party; this resulted in Jencks being sent to prison for perjury, even though, as a union official, Jencks was required to sign a non-Communist affidavit under the Taft-Hartley Labor Relations Act.

Pete Seeger's band the Weavers went from a hit record with The Lion Sleeps Tonight to being blacklisted and finding no work. Seeger later went to prison over his testimonies in the HUAC related witch-hunts but also forgave Matusow for his youthful mistakes and noted that Harvey never did more than cost Seeger a few jobs.

In 1955, he came clean with a book, False Witness, in which he discloses that he was an FBI agent and was paid to lie about members of the American Communist Party. He also claimed in the book that McCarthy and Roy Cohn had encouraged him to lie. Because of the book, Matusow was found guilty of perjury, jailed for nearly three years, and ultimately blacklisted.

Unable to find work in the United States, he moved to England. In 1966, he established the London Film Makers Cooperative and worked with the composer, Anna Lockwood. In 1972, he produced a festival of contemporary music called the International Carnival of Experimental Sound. The event's highlights included performances by Charlotte Moorman (in the Roundhouse and in the Richard Demarco Gallery in Edinburgh) and John Cage's HPSCHD, for 8 harpsichords and projections of the American space programme. A train was hired to take participants and public to Edinburgh, to link with the Edinburgh festival; Charlotte Moorman performed Nam June Paik's TV Bra in the Richard Demarco Gallery.

He returned to the United States in 1973, eventually settling in Tucson, Arizona. Working with the Magic Mouse Theatre, he developed a clown persona named Cockyboo for stage and television. Matusow began Magic Mouse as a radio show in Tucson, Arizona, and slowly it grew into a traveling theater troupe, and in 1979, became the TV program MAGIC MOUSE MAGAZINE. This led to the creation of THE BABYSITTER'S MAGIC MOUSE STORYBOOK, a self-published book done in collaboration with Hilda Terry creator of the popular newspaper cartoon "Teena". “Some people wanted to revive the Magic Mouse stories,” says Terry, “and he wanted me to illustrate them with my teenagers, from when young girls were more innocent. Teena started as a babysitter during WW2.”

Later, he converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Glenwood, Utah to start the state's first public access television program. In 2001, he moved to Claremont, New Hampshire to run the town's public access TV studio. He died in New Hampshire from complications from a car accident.


  • Matusow saw the Hindenburg crash as a child.
  • While in the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, his cell was next to Wilhelm Reich's cell when Reich died.
  • After Matusow traveled to London in 1965 then performance artist Yoko Ono and her husband Tony Cox came to London at Matusow's request for a Fluxus event.
  • He was married twelve times to eleven women. One wedding was in a helicopter over New York City; another was in a piano factory.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Harvey Matusow" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools