Asenior member of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) in Chicago, Childs and his brother Jack had come to the United States from the Ukraine in 1911, changing their surname from Chilovsky. Both men became prominent in the Communist movement, and Morris’s first wife, Roz, was an NKVD agent who was later to appear in the VENONA traffic.
In 1954, as part of an operation code-named TOPLEV by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Morris Childs was approached by a special agent on the street in Chicago and invited to cooperate. Surprisingly, he agreed to do so, and for the next 30 years he, his brother Jack, and his second wife Eva Leib supplied detailed information from the heart of the CPUSA to their handlers. From April 1958 they made annual visits to Moscow to channel Soviet funds into the CPUSA, and in total received an estimated $30 million.
Never in good health, Childs had needed frequent medical care, and his hospital bill for one life-saving medical procedure was paid by the FBI when the CPUSA refused to do so, thereby earning his gratitude and loyalty. Code-named SOLO, the three traveled across the globe meeting other Communist leaders and undertook more than 50 foreign visits, on which they submitted lengthy reports. The operation came to a conclusion in August 1980 with Jack’s death.
In their retirement in Miami in 1986, Morris and Eva were obliged to go into hiding in an FBI safe house in the suburb of Hallandale. Following Morris’s death in June 1991, author John Barron was authorized to write Operation SOLO, an account of their collaboration, which was published soon after Eva’s death in June 1995. Both men were awarded the Order of the Red Banner by the Soviets and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan.