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John O. Miller was born on September 21, 1926 in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Dr. Bruce Miller was a well known physician and became an attorney later in life. Miller’s maternal grandparents were Austrian émigrés, and his grandfather was an Austrian Jew, but his mother and her sisters took the mother’s Catholic religion.
He grew up in the south side of Chicago, boarding at military school at the age of 8 and attending Parker High School. For a brief time, Miller was sent to Florida to live with one of his maternal aunt’s during the worst of the depression.
Miller graduated from high school in 1944 and enlisted in the Army Air Corps with the intention of taking officer’s training. After turning 18 in September he did basic training at Great Lake Naval station north of Chicago. After basic, he was posted to Keesler Air Base, Keesler, Mississippi. The war in Europe was winding down at this point and the end of the war with Japan was soon to come. The military was trying to find ways to reduce the number of officers in training and enlistments for after the war. Miller was offered an honorable discharge with full veteran’s benefits which he elected to accept. He continued service in what became the Air Force Reserves.
After the military, Miller spent some time at the University of Miami, but returned to Chicago, missing family and friends. Miller worked with his father and became a licensed medical technician. He also attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana at this time. His studies were all in pre-medicine. Some of his eclectic occupations included music publishing , driving a yellow cab, Ryerson Steel company – operating a nibbler, driving a US mail truck – mail route, sold magazines door to door, and worked on loading dock loading trucks with the Longshoreman’s Union,
[Mop – O’Cedar]
[Family moves to Los Angeles] In 1952, Miller moved to Los Angeles at the age of 26 to follow his family and to begin work with his brother, Barry L. Miller. Barry Miller was an expert tool and die maker and had founded Miller Engineering. Eventually Miller became head of production for his brother’s company. Miller Engineering was well known for manufacturing machine gun links and Barry Miller had widespread contacts with foreign militaries such as the United Kingdom and Israel.
In 1958 John Miller broke away from his brother’s company and set out on his own. Buying a drill press at Sear’s he began working out of his garage and soliciting business. A die maker from his brother’s firm, George Morat, joined Miller and they began M&M Engineering. The company took on a wide ranging number of clients and quickly became the premier die maker in Orange County in the 1960s. Some products manufactured were the wire in orthodontics, dial in Honeywell thermostats, and contracts for military and defense work for the government.
[CONTINUE LIFE and EMPLOYMENT HISTORY (Airline – Marvin Gaye, Terry Moore – Sands/Stardust]
Miller’s first political memory involves listening to the “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” speech by President Roosevelt. At 14, he was so moved by the words he sent away for a copy of the speech. The White House returned a mimeograph of the speech signed by the President’s Press Secretary, Stephen Early. Thus began a lifetime of collecting originals and copies of items of political interest.
In an interview at the Library, Miller recalls finding a Communist party membership card in a movie theater in 1930s Chicago. The impact of the statements on the card, requiring loyalty to the Soviet Union and a pledge to overthrow the US government, brought an early awareness of the evils of communism, and particularly the Communist party. He sent the wallet onto the FBI for investigation of the owner. In addition, his sister had become a communist while a student at the University of Chicago and he recalls trying to dissuade her from her decision. She was often giving him copies of In Fact, the newsletter written and published by George Seldes and his wife, financed and founded by the Communist Party of the US.
Miller appears to have been focused entirely on establishing his business and life during the 1940s and 50s. In 1960 he returned to his political interests and began a personal quest to investigate the Communist Party of the US and the John Birch Society. At the time he was divorced from his second wife and had spare time to devote to outside interests. He began attending the local Los Angeles Communist party meetings, held in the Park Manor Hotel ballroom on Saturday nights. He would attend the meetings “undercover” with a 3-day beard growth and a tape recorder in his shirt pocket. During this time he met the long-time worker’s advocate and member of the Communist Party, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. He also participated in party events and gained an understanding of Party tactics and methods.
[John Birch – Investigation – Results? Date of Joining?]
After familiarizing himself with these groups, he decided to instigate a further extension of the Smith Act and formalize the outlawing of the Communist Party in California. He formed a committee to begin the process, The California Committee to Combat Communism. While required to show other officers in his founding papers, in fact, Mr. Miller was nearly the sole source of creating and instigating this effort and put considerable financial resources into the effort. His work was done mostly behind the scenes and in correspondence with California legislators and other anti-Communist leaders throughout the state. He gave only a single public speech on behalf of the Proposition. In the early 60s the CCCC was able to gather 426,000 signatures for what became known as Proposition 24 and qualified for the 1962 ballot. In addition to outlawing the Party, the Proposition required loyalty oaths from certain sectors of the public – public servants, teachers, etc. and was particularly designed to expose Communist “front” organizations. This was due to Miller’s knowledge gained during his undercover work with the Communist Party.
[Opposition to Prop 24, distortion of message by media, eventual results]
In addition during this time, Miller becoming active in local Orange County Republican politics. He served as Chairman of the Rosemont Republican Assembly. He remembers clearly the turn in the Party to conservative politics around the time of the 1964 nomination of Barry Goldwater and the emergence of Ronald Reagan as a conservative speaker. At the time, the head of the California Republican party, Houston Flournoy, was considered by most conservatives a “RHINO” (Republican in name only). When questioned or challenged by more conservative members he would ignore or bully through the opposition. At some point, [DATE] the conservatives organized and using “Robert’s Rule of Order” managed to overcome Flournoy and replace him with a conservative leader, Nolan Friz