Harry Jacob Anslinger 1940s

A Multi-faceted Administrator

Anslinger, second from left, attends a screening of To the Ends of the Earth, 1948. The other men in the image are unidentified.

Small Roles

Anslinger played himself as the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) Commissioner in To the Ends of the Earth.

In the early to mid-1940s Hollywood suffered a number of high-profile drug scandals, including  those involving drummer Gene Krupa and actor Robert Mitchum.

Harry and Martha Anslinger with James Cagney (at right), Hollywood, California, ca. 1940.

Meeting with Studio Heads

Anslinger met with major studio heads, including the Louis B. Mayer, of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, concerning Hollywood actors with drug problems, as well the appropriate portrayal of the topic of drugs in films. It was during this era that the Motion Picture Production Code banned drug use in movies unrelated to the plot.

A No Nonsense Boss

First and foremost, Anslinger was an administrator. Responsible for overseeing the work of agents and support staff across the United States and the enforcement operations and accounting practices they employed, he was a no-nonsense boss. The letter to the right cites a total of $16.50 in mislabeled evidence over four different cases.

Letter to FBN Minneapolis, Minnesota, District Supervisor, 1940

Anslinger Correspondence. Ca. 1940-1946.

From reporters to Congressmen, corporate titans to foreign government leaders, Anslinger wrote to countless individuals over the course of his long career. A large collection of Anslinger’s official correspondence is part of the holdings at the Pennsylvania State University’s Paterno Library.

The Federal Bureau of Narcotics Badge (1930 – 1968).

Carried by Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics while enforcing America’s drug laws. Throughout the time that Anslinger ran the FBN (1930–1962), the Bureau never employed more than 400 agents.

Appointment of Anslinger as United State Representative, U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 1946.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs was established by the United Nations in 1946 and still exists today. Anslinger was the first representative of the United States to that new body. The Commission has the power to influence drug control policy by deciding how various substances will be controlled by U.N. member countries.