FOIA The Dead

Lois Wheeler Snow

Lois Wheeler Snow was an actress and writer who, through her marriage to journalist Edgar Snow, became a prominent figure in China. His 1937 book was considered a "sympathetic portrayal" of the young Communist revolutionaries in China, and was the first popular depiction of several future leaders of the People's Republic of China, including Mao Zedong and Zhao Enlai.

That connection led to the couple being effectively blacklisted during the McCarthy Era, but also led to a favorable reception in China. She visited the country frequently between 1970 and 1989, and she and her husband's appearance onstage with Mao on her first visit was considered a gesture of China's willingness to reopen ties to the U.S. After the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, she became a harsh critic of China's civil rights abuses, and vowed not to return. When she finally did plan another visit, in 2000, it was blocked by the Chinese government.

Despite that extensive history with China, her FBI file consists of a single report of a 1975 visit described in the press.

New York Times obit: Lois Wheeler Snow, Critic of Human Rights Abuses in China, Dies at 97