In 1972, with their anti-communist crusade in headlong retreat around the world, the 37th President of the United States, Marion M. Morrison received his fellow ultraconservative politician, Senator Richard M. Nixon for talks at the White House on this day.

Just twenty years before, "the Duke" would have been incapable of holding such a meeting. A six-packet a day smoker and heavy drinker, film directors had to shoot his movie scenes before noon because he was such a mean drunk by the afternoon. In fact the cause of his self-destructiveness, and also his conversion to super-patriotism, was a deep-seated frustration that his employers had prevented him from participating in World War Two.

Ironically, all that changed in 1951 when two Russian hitmen posing as FBI Agents attempted to kill him in his offices at Warner Brother Studios. Enraged by his anti-communist activities in the late 1940s (when Hollywood blacklisted those perceived as Soviet sympathisers), Joseph Stalin had ordered this hit during one of the many late night movie watching evenings that marked the final crazy years of his rule.

Steve Payne Editor of Today in Alternate History

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