Hollywood blacklist

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Image:H10Protest.gif
Protestors opposing the jailing of the Hollywood Ten in 1950 (from the 1987 documentary Legacy of the Hollywood Blacklist).

The Hollywood blacklist—more properly the entertainment industry blacklist, into which it expanded—was the mid-twentieth-century list of screenwriters, actors, directors, musicians, and other U.S. entertainment professionals who were denied employment in the field because of their political beliefs or associations, real or suspected. Artists were barred from work on the basis of their alleged membership in or sympathy toward the American Communist Party, involvement in liberal or simply humanitarian political causes that enforcers of the blacklist associated with communism, and/or refusal to assist federal investigations into Communist Party activities; some were blacklisted merely because their names came up at the wrong place and time. Even during the period of its strictest enforcement, the late 1940s through the late 1950s, the blacklist was rarely made explicit and verifiable, but it caused direct damage to the careers of scores of American artists, often made betrayal of friendship (not to mention principle) the price for a livelihood, and promoted ideological censorship across the entire industry.

The first blacklist was instituted on November 25, 1947, the day after ten writers and directors were cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to give testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. A group of studio executives, acting under the aegis of the Motion Picture Association of America, announced the firing of the artists—the so-called Hollywood Ten—in what has become known as the Waldorf Statement. On June 22, 1950, a pamphlet called Red Channels appeared, naming 151 entertainment industry professionals in the context of "Red Fascists and their sympathizers"—this was the most publicized explicit blacklist ever issued; in addition to those named, dozens of other artists found it equally difficult, in many cases impossible, to get work in the entertainment field. The blacklist was officially broken in 1960 when Dalton Trumbo, an unrepentant member of the Hollywood Ten, was publicly acknowledged as the screenwriter of the films Spartacus and Exodus; a number of those blacklisted, however, were still barred from work in their professions for years afterward.

Contents

[edit] Overview

[edit] The blacklist begins (1947)

The Hollywood blacklist is rooted in events of the 1930s and the early 1940s. During that era, long before the horrors of Soviet premier Joseph Stalin's rule became common knowledge in the West, the American Communist Party attracted a large number of followers, many of them young idealists in the field of arts and entertainment. During World War II, when the United States and the Soviet Union were allies, membership in the American Communist Party reached a peak of 50,000.<ref>Johnpoll (1994), p. xv.</ref>

Image:Huac.jpg
The 1947 HUAC hearings in session.

Perceptions changed soon after the end of World War II, with communism increasingly becoming a focus of American fears and hatred. The "Second Red Scare" was spurred both by reports of Soviet repression in Eastern and Central Europe in the war's aftermath and the growth of conservative political influence in the U.S. following the Republican triumph in the 1946 Congressional elections, which saw the party take control of both the House and Senate. In October 1947, a number of persons working in the Hollywood film industry were summoned to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), which had declared its intention to investigate whether, as described by scholar Richard A. Schwartz, "Communist agents had succeeded in implanting Communist messages and values in Hollywood films."<ref>Schwartz (1999).</ref> This group of American movie professionals—primarily screenwriters, but actors, directors, producers, and others as well—were either known or alleged to have been members of the American Communist Party. Of the forty-three people put on the witness list, a total of nineteen declared that they would not give evidence, of whom eleven were actually called before the committee. Of the eleven "unfriendly witnesses," one, emigré playwright Bertolt Brecht, ultimately chose to answer the committee's questions.<ref>Dick (1989), p. 7; Bertolt Brecht's Appearance.</ref> The other ten refused, citing their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. The crucial question they rebuffed is now generally rendered as "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?"—which was not and had never been illegal.<ref>The following transcript of an excerpt from the interrogation of screenwriter John Howard Lawson gives an example of how the question was worded in actual practice and a sense of the tenor of some of the exchanges:

Interrogator: Are you a member of the Communist Party or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Lawson: It's unfortunate and tragic that I have to teach this committee the basic principles of Americanism.
Interrogator: That's not the question. That's not the question. The question is—have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Lawson: I am framing my answer in the only way in which any American citizen can frame...absolutely invades his privacy...
Interrogator: Then you deny it? You refuse to answer that question, is that correct?
Lawson: I have told you that I will offer my beliefs, my affiliations and everything else to the American public and they will know where I stand as they do from what I have written.
Interrogator: Stand away from the stand. Stand away from the stand. Officer, take this man away from the stand.

See John Howard Lawson.</ref> (In fact, each had at one time or another been a member; some still were, while others had been in the past and only briefly.) These ten were formally accused of contempt of Congress and proceedings against them began in the full House of Representatives.

In light of the "Hollywood Ten"'s defiance of HUAC—in addition to refusing to testify, many had attempted to read statements decrying the committee's investigation as unconstitutional—political pressure mounted on the film industry to demonstrate its "anti-subversive" bona fides. In October, with the hearings still under way, Eric Johnston, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, declared that he would never "employ any proven or admitted Communist because they are just a disruptive force and I don't want them around."<ref>Dick (1989), p. 7.</ref> On November 17, 1947, the Screen Actors Guild voted to make its officers swear to a non-Communist pledge. The following week, on November 24, 1947, the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to approve citations against the Hollywood Ten for contempt of Congress. The next day, following a meeting of film industry executives at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, MPAA president Johnston issued a press release on the executives' behalf that is today referred to as the Waldorf Statement.<ref>At least a couple of important recent histories incorrectly give December 3 as the date of the Waldorf Statement: Ross (2002), p. 217; Stone (2004), p. 365. Among the many 1947 sources that make unquestionable the error, there is, for example, the New York Times article "Movies to Oust Ten Cited For Contempt of Congress; Major Companies Also Vote to Refuse Jobs to Communists—'Hysteria, Surrender of Freedom' Charged by Defense Counsel; Movies Will Oust Ten Men Cited for Contempt of Congress After Voting to Refuse Employment to Communists," which appeared on the front page of the newspaper November 26.</ref> The statement declared that the ten would be fired or suspended without pay and not reemployed until they were both cleared of contempt charges and had sworn that they were not Communists. The first Hollywood blacklist was now in effect.

[edit] The list grows (1948–50)

The HUAC hearings had failed to turn up any evidence that Hollywood was secretly disseminating Communist propaganda, but the industry was nonetheless transformed. The fallout from the inquiry was a major factor in the decision by Floyd Odlum, the primary owner of RKO Pictures, to get out of the business. As a result, the studio would pass into the hands of Howard Hughes; within weeks of taking over in May 1948, Hughes fired most of RKO's employees and virtually shut the studio down for half a year as he had the political sympathies of the rest investigated. Then, just as RKO swung back into production, Hughes made the decision to settle a long-standing federal antitrust suit against the industry's Big Five studios. This would be one of the crucial steps in the collapse of the studio system that had governed Hollywood, and ruled much of world cinema, for a quarter-century.

In the spring of 1948, as well, all of the Hollywood Ten were convicted of contempt. Following a series of unsuccessful appeals, the cases arrived before the Supreme Court; among the submissions filed in defense of the ten was an amicus curiae brief signed by 204 Hollywood professionals. After the court denied review, the Hollywood Ten began serving one-year prison sentences in 1950. In September 1950, one of the ten, director Edward Dmytryk, publicly announced that he had once been a Communist and was prepared to give evidence against others who had been as well. He was released early from jail; following his 1951 HUAC appearance, in which he described his brief membership in the party and named names, his career recovered.<ref>Gevinson (1997), p. 234.</ref> The others remained silent and most were unable to obtain work in the American film and television industry for many years after—in the case of Adrian Scott, who had produced Dmytryk's films Murder, My Sweet, Cornered, So Well Remembered, and Crossfire and was one of those named by his former friend, his next screen credit would not come until 1972 and he would never produce another feature film. Some of those blacklisted continued to write for Hollywood or the broadcasting industry surreptitiously, using pseudonyms or the names of friends who posed as the actual writers (those who allowed their names to be used in this fashion were called "fronts"). Of the 204 who signed the amicus brief, 84 would be blacklisted themselves.<ref>Stone (2004), p. 365.</ref>

A number of nongovernmental organizations participated in enforcing and expanding the blacklist; in particular, the American Legion, the conservative war veterans' group, was instrumental in pressuring the entertainment industry to exclude those of political sympathies it disagreed with. In 1949, the Americanism division of the Legion issued its own blacklist—a roster of 128 names it claimed were all participants in the "Communist Conspiracy." Among the names on the Legion's list was that of well-known playwright Lillian Hellman.<ref>Newman (1989), 140.</ref> Hellman had written or contributed to the screenplays of approximately ten motion pictures up to that point; she wouldn't be employed again by a Hollywood studio until 1966. Another influential group was American Business Consultants Inc., founded in 1947. In the subscription information for its weekly publication Counterattack, "The Newsletter of Facts to Combat Communism," it declared that it was run by "a group of former FBI men. It has no affiliation whatsoever with any government agency." Notwithstanding that claim, it seems the editors of Counterattack had direct access to the files of both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and HUAC; the results of that access became widely apparent with the June 1950 publication of Red Channels. This Counterattack spinoff listed 151 people in entertainment and broadcast journalism along with records of their involvement in what the pamphlet meant to be taken as Communist or pro-Communist activities.<ref>Red Channels (1950), pp. 6, 214; Guide to the American Business Consultants.</ref> A few of those named, such as Hellman, were already being denied employment in the motion picture, TV, and radio fields; the publication of Red Channels meant that scores more were placed on the blacklist.

[edit] HUAC returns (1951)

In 1951, HUAC held a second investigation of Hollywood and Communism. By this time, the legal tactics of those refusing to testify changed; instead of relying on the First Amendment, they invoked the Fifth Amendment's shield against self-incrimination (though, in fact, Communist Party membership would never be made illegal). While this usually allowed a witness to avoid "naming names" without being indicted for contempt of Congress, "taking the Fifth" before HUAC guaranteed that one would be added to the industry blacklist.

Scholar Thomas Doherty describes how the HUAC hearings swept onto the blacklist those who had never even been particularly active politically, let alone suspected of being Communists:

[O]n March 21, 1951, the name of the actor Lionel Stander was uttered by the actor Larry Parks during testimony before HUAC. "Do you know Lionel Stander?" committee counsel Frank S. Tavenner inquired. Parks replied he knew the man, but had no knowledge of his political affiliations. No more was said about Stander either by Parks or the committee—no accusation, no insinuation. Yet Stander's phone stopped ringing. Prior to Parks's testimony, Stander had worked on ten television shows in the previous 100 days. Afterwards, nothing.<ref>Doherty (2003), p. 31.</ref>

[edit] The height of the blacklist (1952–56)

In 1952, the Screen Writers Guild—which had been founded two decades before by three future members of the Hollywood Ten—authorized the movie studios to "omit from the screen" the names of any individuals who had failed to clear themselves before Congress. Writer Dalton Trumbo, for instance, one of the Hollywood Ten and still very much on the blacklist, had received screen credit in 1950 for writing, years earlier, the story on which the screenplay of Columbia Pictures' Emergency Wedding was based. There would be no more of that until the 1960s. The name of Albert Maltz, who had written the original screenplay for The Robe in the mid-1940s, was nowhere to be seen when the movie was released in 1953.<ref>Dick (1989), p. 94.</ref>

As William O'Neill describes, pressure was maintained even on those who had ostensibly "cleared" themselves:

On December 27, 1952, the American Legion announced that it disapproved of a new film, Moulin Rouge, starring José Ferrer, who used to be no more progressive than hundreds of other actors and had already been grilled by HUAC. The picture itself was based on the life of Toulouse-Lautrec and was totally apolitical. Nine members of the Legion had picketed it anyway, giving rise to the controversy. By this time people were not taking any chances. Ferrer immediately wired the Legion's national commander that he would be glad to join the veterans in their "fight against communism."<ref>O'Neill (1990), p. 239.</ref>

During this era, a number of influential newspaper columnists covering the entertainment industry, including Walter Winchell, Hedda Hopper, Victor Riesel, Jack O'Brian, and George Sokolsky, regularly offered up names with the suggestion that they should be added to the blacklist.<ref>Cohen (2004), p. 176.</ref>

[edit] The decline and fall of the blacklist (1957–present)

The Hollywood blacklist had long gone hand in hand with the Red-baiting activities of J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. Adversaries of HUAC such as lawyer Bartley Crum, who defended some of the Hollywood Ten in front of the committee in 1947, were labeled as Communist sympathizers or subversives and targeted for investigation themselves. The FBI tapped Crum's phones, opened his mail, and placed him under continuous surveillance. As a result, he lost most of his clients and, unable to cope with the stress of ceaseless harassment, committed suicide in 1959.<ref>Bosworth (1997), passim.</ref>

On January 20, 1960, director Otto Preminger publicly announced that Dalton Trumbo, one of the best known members of the Hollywood Ten, was the screenwriter of his forthcoming film Exodus. Six-and-a-half months later, with Exodus still to debut, the New York Times announced that Universal Pictures would give Trumbo screen credit for his role as writer on Spartacus, a decision star Kirk Douglas is now recognized as largely responsible for.<ref>Smith (1999), p. 206.</ref> On October 6, Spartacus premiered—the first movie to bear Trumbo's name since he had received story credit on Emergency Wedding in 1950. Since 1947, he had written or cowritten approximately seventeen motion pictures without credit. Exodus followed in December; the blacklist was now clearly coming to an end, but its effects would reverberate for years to come.

A key figure in the end of the blacklisting of McCarthyism was John Henry Faulk. Host of an afternoon comedy radio show, Faulk was a leftist active in his union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He was scrutinized by AWARE, one of the private firms that examined individuals for signs of communist "disloyalty". Marked by AWARE as unfit, he was fired by CBS Radio. Almost uniquely among the many victims of blacklisting, Faulk decided to sue AWARE in 1957 and finally won the case in 1962.<ref>Faulk (1963).</ref> With this court decision, the private blacklisters and those who used them were put on notice that blacklisting was liable. This helped to bring an end to publications such as Counterattack.<ref>Fried (1997), p. 197.</ref>

As late as 2000, the Screen Writers Guild was still pursuing the correction of screen credits from movies of the 1950s and early 1960s to properly reflect the work of blacklisted writers such as Hugo Butler and Carl Foreman.<ref> Weinraub (2000).</ref>

[edit] The blacklist

Image:Hollywood10.jpg
The Hollywood Ten in November 1947 waiting to be fingerprinted in the U.S. Marshal's office after being cited for contempt of Congress. Front row (from left): Herbert Biberman, attorneys Martin Popper and Robert W. Kenny, Albert Maltz, Lester Cole. Middle row: Dalton Trumbo, John Howard Lawson, Alvah Bessie, Samuel Ornitz. Back row: Ring Lardner Jr., Edward Dmytryk, Adrian Scott.

[edit] The Hollywood Ten and other 1947 blacklistees

[edit] The Hollywood Ten

[edit] Others


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[edit] Persons first blacklisted between January 1948 and June 1950

(an asterisk after the entry indicates the person was also listed in Red Channels)

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[edit] The Red Channels blacklist

(see, e.g., Schrecker [2002], p. 244; Barnouw [1990], pp. 122–124)

Note 1: Madeline Lee—who was married to actor Jack Gilford, also listed by Red Channels—was frequently confused with another actress of the era named Madaline Lee.

[edit] Persons first blacklisted after June 1950

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[edit] Other blacklisted entertainment professionals

This is a partial list of other blacklisted entertainers:

[edit] Notes

<references />

[edit] Sources

[edit] Published

  • Barnouw, Erik (1990 [1975]). Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506483-6
  • Bosworth, Patricia (1997). Anything Your Little Heart Desires: An American Family Story. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-80809-9
  • Buhle, Paul, and David Wagner (2003). Hide in Plain Sight: The Hollywood Blacklistees in Film and Television, 1950-2002. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-6144-1
  • Ceplair, Larry, and Steven Englund (2003). The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-1960. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-07141-7
  • Cogley, John (1956). "Report on Blacklisting." Collected in Blacklisting: An Original Anthology (1971), Merle Miller and John Cogley. New York: Arno Press/New York Times. ISBN 0-405-03579-9
  • Cohen, Karl F. (2004 [1997]). Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland.
  • Dick, Bernard F. (1982). Hellman in Hollywood. East Brunswick, N.J., London, and Toronto: Associated University Presses. ISBN 0-8386-3140-1
  • Dick, Bernard F. (1989). Radical Innocence: A Critical Study of the Hollywood Ten. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1660-0
  • Doherty, Thomas (2003). Cold War, Cool Medium: Television, McCarthyism, and American Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12952-1
  • Faulk, John Henry (1963). Fear on Trial. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-72442-X
  • Fried, Albert (1997). McCarthyism, The Great American Red Scare: A Documentary History. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509701-7
  • Georgakas, Dan (1992). "Hollywood Blacklist," in Encyclopedia of the American Left, ed. Mari Jo Buhle, Paul Buhle, and Dan Georgakas. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press (available online). ISBN 0-252-06250-7
  • Gevinson, Alan (ed.) (1997). American Film Institute Catalog—Within Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20964-8
  • Goldstein, Patrick (1999). "Many Refuse to Clap as Kazan Receives Oscar," Los Angeles Times, March 22 (available online).
  • Gordon, Bernard (1999). Hollywood Exile, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-72827-1
  • Herman, Jan (1997 [1995]). A Talent for Trouble: The Life of Hollywood's Most Acclaimed Director, William Wyler. New York: Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-90798-X
  • Johnpoll, Bernard K. (1994). A Documentary History of the Communist Party of the United States, vol. 3. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-28506-3
  • Leab, Daniel J., with guide by Robert E. Lester (1991). Communist Activity in the Entertainment Industry: FBI Surveillance Files on Hollywood, 1942–1958. Bethesda, Md.: University Publications of America (available online). ISBN 1-55655-414-1
  • Newman, Robert P. (1989). The Cold War Romance of Lillian Hellman and John Melby. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-1815-1
  • O'Neill, William L. (1990 [1982]). A Better World: Stalinism and the American Intellectuals. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction. ISBN 0-88738-631-8
  • Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television (1950). New York: Counterattack.
  • Ross, Stephen J. (ed.) (2002). Movies and American Society. Malden, Mass., and Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-21960-9
  • Schrecker, Ellen (2002). The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents. New York: Palgrave. ISBN 0-312-29425-5
  • Schwartz, Jerry (1999). "Some Actors Outraged by Kazan Honor," Associated Press, March 13 (available online).
  • "Seven-Year Justice," Time, July 6, 1962 (available online).
  • Smith, Jeff (1999). "'A Good Business Proposition': Dalton Trumbo, Spartacus, and the End of the Blacklist," in Controlling Hollywood: Censorship/Regulation in the Studio Era, ed. Matthew Bernstein. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2707-4
  • Stone, Geoffrey R. (2004). Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-05880-8
  • Weinraub, Bernard (2000). "Blacklisted Screenwriters Get Credits," New York Times, August 5.

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