In an op-ed in today’s L.A. Times, former Times writer Allan M. Jalon tells the story of how the FBI used the Los Angeles Times to destroy politically active actress Jean Seberg. According to Jalon, J. Edgar Hoover planted the rumor with a Times gossip columnist that the father of the baby Seberg was pregnant with at the time was a Black Panther:
The item made clear that Miss A was the actress Jean Seberg, who starred as the heroine of Otto Preminger’s Saint Joan and became internationally known for her role in Jean-Luc Godard’s classic film Breathless. Haber’s item claimed that the father of the baby Seberg carried at the time was not her husband, French novelist-diplomat Romain Gary, but an official with the Black Panthers.
Documents from the time show that the smear had been concocted by then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and agents in his Los Angeles bureau to punish Seberg for her political views. Soon after the item appeared, Seberg lost the baby after a premature delivery. At the baby’s funeral, the 31-year-old actress had the casket opened to show the baby was white and the gossip started by the Times was false.