WASHINGTON -- An FBI informant was disclosed today to have reported that Fredric March, the movie actor, was a member of the communist party in 1947.
An FBI report, including information on March from the unidentified informant, was read at the espionage trial of Judith Coplon, former justice department analyst. The report was among the documents she is alleged to have stolen from the department for transmission to a Russian.
Miss Coplon's attorney read the material over the violent objections of government attorneys.
The lengthy report -- dated Jan. 13, 1949 -- listed material provided by numerous FBI informants. It included names of several Hollywood celebrities, including March's wife, Florence Eldridge, Edward G. Robinson, Paul Robeson and Dalton Trumbo. They were described by the FBI informants as sponsors of numerous communist front organizations.
March was the only one mentioned in the report as an alleged member of the communist party. However, Robeson is an acknowledged communist.
Listed as Patron
March was listed in the FBI report as a patron of the Congress of American-Soviet Friendship in 1942 and of the American Committee for Yugoslaf Relief in 1945.
Another notation indicated that on Oct. 16, 1944, an FBI informant had taken note that March attended a dinner given by American Youth for Democracy. At that time, he presented an AYD "scroll for achievement" to John Hersey, author of "A Bell for Adano."
Again, in 1945, March was involved in something sponsored by the American Society for Russian Relief, according to an informant.
Other names mentioned in the report, which Defense attorney Archibald Palmer read with great rapidity, included Sylvia Sidney, Paul Muni, Dorothy Parker, Melvyn Douglas and John Howard Lawson.
Miss Coplon is charged with stealing highly secret government documents for transmission to Russia through Valentin A. Gubitchev, suspended soviet United Nations employe. Among other things, excerpts from a "planted" FBI memo were found in Miss Coplon's purse when she and Gubitchev were arrested in New York March 4.
Federal judge Reeves has admitted in evidence 12 data slips which the FBI said it found in Miss Coplon's purse. Today Defense counsel Archibald Palmer sought to offer in evidence the actual secret reports on which the data slips were based.
When Palmer offered the report in evidence, Government prosecutor John M. Kelley Jr., protested on grounds it contains irrelevant material whose publication would endanger the country's security.