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When Nikita met Marilyn
February 19, 2013 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Khrushchev Tours America - His shoe banging incident at the UN and the the Kitchen Debates with Nixon are well known but less attention has been given to the time Nikita Khrushchev went to Hollywood. He met Marilyn Monroe and other film luminaries but he was denied a trip to Disneyland (previously). posted by madamjujujive (16 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
"What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken over the place that can destroy me? Then what must I do? Commit suicide? This is the situation I am in — your guest. For me the situation is inconceivable. I cannot find words to explain this to my people..."

...and so they created this thing of beauty.
posted by not_on_display at 7:09 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh my goodness. My mother went to the house he visited in the middle of Iowa. Like, it was her DREAM to go there. She was so excited. She took her lady friends from the East Coast and made up a fake travel company called Prairie Schooner Travel and they drove out to see it. Also the waving grasslands of Nebraska and the pearl button museum.

And people wonder why I'm the way I am.
posted by Madamina at 7:09 PM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Krushchev visited my workplace on that trip. There's pictures of him touring the plant on a historical display in the cafeteria. I believe he also visited my girlfriend's company.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:10 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is it? Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken over the place that can destroy me? Then what must I do? Commit suicide? This is the situation I am in — your guest. For me the situation is inconceivable. I cannot find words to explain this to my people..."

I'm sorry sir but you did not win the Super Bowl.
posted by srboisvert at 7:40 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about that trip is that Khrushchev apparently spent the whole time constantly amazed that American capitalists didn't actually look like pigs wearing top hats like they did in Soviet propaganda. There's also some trip to the West where he got booed for the first time in his life and had no idea what was happening or what the strange noises were supposed to mean.
posted by Copronymus at 7:41 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I remember about that trip..
Yeah, I'm old. Get off my lawn! ت
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:43 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would pay about what I paid for my Jeep to have seen Nikita Khrushchev on LSD.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:24 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just the other night, as I flipped through the channels while cursing my insomnia, I landed on a Cold War documentary; it was at the part about Khrushchev when I tuned in. Previously, I only knew him as “the guy before Brezhnev.“

He strikes me as an odd sort of character; in one of the clips in the doc, he‘s shown actually wrestling with a soldier, roughhousing. Which I find bizarre, for a leader.

I was just about to start looking into the man and learning more, when this FPP shows up like magic. Man, I love MeFi!

Thanks!
posted by Jughead at 8:33 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascinating.

I found an old newspaper article describing his visit to San Francisco. He escaped the security forces and took a walk around.

It is not mentioned in the article, but the story is told that Mayor George Christopher went with him in a drive around the city. Khrushchev leaned way out of the window to wave at all the crowds cheering as they went by. Christopher told him "If you fall out of that window, everyone is going to accuse me of pushing you!"

Christopher later visited him in the Soviet Union.
posted by eye of newt at 8:50 PM on February 19, 2013


The video mentions the "Garst farm" as if it were just another junket stop, but Roswell Garst^ was in fact a hybrid seed vendor and already involved in US-Soviet trade. (I grew up in corn country and you see Garst signs all along the country roads.) The farm^ is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and at least part of it is now run by a sustainability foundation. So not just any farm.

Khrushchev apparently spent the whole time constantly amazed that American capitalists didn't actually look like pigs wearing top hats like they did in Soviet propaganda.

To Khrushchev, Harriman's guests [in his New York townhouse] "looked like typical American capitalists, right out of the posters painted during our Civil War -- only they didn't have the pigs' snouts our artists always gave them." -- William Taubman, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era

Sounds more like his famously down-to-earth caustic humor, with frequent animal references.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


...and so they created this thing of beauty.

I kept waiting for the shower of vomit to appear. Looks worse than the "teacup" ride I went on as a kid in Lincoln Park near New Bedford, Mass., which spun in several directions at once. When I got off the first time, my inner ear was so screwed up, not only could I barely stand, but the horizon looked tilited for several minutes.

So Nikita never got to see Frontierland or Main Street or Tomorrowland...
posted by Philofacts at 11:33 PM on February 19, 2013


That magazine article linked about Khrushchev's trip to Hollywood is taken from a quite enjoyable book about his entire U.S. visit, called K Blows Top. Looks like the book is being turned into a movie as well.

Some parts I really liked from the book:
In 1959, Senator Hubert Humphrey visited Moscow and was granted an audience with Khrushchev that he expected would last about an hour. But Humphrey and Khrushchev, two of the world’s most notoriously loquacious politicians, ended up yakking for eight solid hours. … At one point, after bragging about his missiles and his hydrogen bombs, the premier asked the senator to point out his hometown on a map of the United States. Humphrey identified Minneapolis and Khrushchev circled it with a thick blue pencil. “That’s so I don’t forget to order them to spare the city when the rockets fly,” he explained.

Why had Ike invited him not to the White House but to ‘Camp David’? Was this an insult? A subtle snob? Just what is Camp David? he wondered. Some kind of leper colony?

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover estimated that at least 25,000 Americans wanted to kill Khrushchev.

[Khruschev said,] “To characterize our attitude toward each other’s system, I think the most apt saying is the Russian proverb ‘Each duck praises its own swamp.’”

… a book on the Rockefeller dynasty, published [in Russia] in 1957, bore a wonderfully gruesome title —
Ever Knee-Deep in Blood, Ever Trampling Corpses.

One sign [held up by a protestor] displayed a poem: “Roses are red / Violets are blue / Stalin dropped dead / How about you?”

posted by LeLiLo at 1:56 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


There really should be more of this kind of thing - and I guess there is, these days. Far as I can tell, Putin has been to the US three times. I'm not sure if he got to visit Disneyland, though.
posted by Harald74 at 2:15 AM on February 20, 2013


You know who else banged a shoe? this turtle.

Also? We Will Bury You.
posted by symbioid at 7:51 AM on February 20, 2013


Also - I almost thought it said "Banging Marilyn Monroe..." And anybody else always get freaked out by the favicon of Smithsonian and think "why do I have BP open?"
posted by symbioid at 7:58 AM on February 20, 2013


Roswell Garst, who owned the farm that Khrushchev visited in Iowa, was my great uncle. Obviously, there is a lot of family lore about Khrushchev; my uncle knew him from his many trip to Russia, when Khrushchev was an agricultural minister. Roswell helped guide Russia to modernize their agricultural practices, with a heavy emphasis on corn production. Years later I worked with a Russian man, who bitterly recounted his childhood diet of "corn, on corn bread, with more corn!" My uncle would have roared with laughter!

Roswell's farm is indeed part of a large environmental conservation, but you can still sleep in the farmhouse, run by Roswell's granddaughter Liz Garst.
posted by sgarst at 4:19 PM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


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