Screen legend James Stewart worked as a secret agent for notorious FBI leader J EDGAR HOOVER, rooting out suspected communists from Hollywood, according to a damning new biography.

Hoover knew the VERTIGO actor was a Right-wing Republican and asked him to work undercover for the FBI in 1947, because Stewart's status as a famous, decorated war hero and officer in the American Army Air Force Reserve Corps made him the perfect choice to help flush out subversives in LA, Stewart's late wife GLORIA HATRICK McLEAN recalled.

And author MICHAEL MUNN's sensational expose, JIMMY STEWART: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE LEGEND claims the star was so keen to assist Hoover, he spied on his closest friends, including Cary Grant and director Frank Capra, who directed his hit movie It's A Wonderful Life.

McLean says, "Jim went barefoot up the mountain and saw the burning bush - only God's name was J Edgar Hoover.

"When Hoover realised Jim was willing to fight crime he played on it. Jim would have done anything to get those gangsters out of town.

"But he was concerned about how it would turn out for friends like Cary Grant who'd developed friendships with these people."

01/08/2005 02:52