Remembering the Hollywood 10
by Ed Rampell
www.truthdig.com, October 8, 2007
Sixty years ago, as wicked witch-hunters
descended upon the movie industry, Judy Garland took to the microphone
for a coast-to-coast radio program called "Hollywood Fights
Back!" Instead of singing, the 25-year-old starlet asked
"Have you been to a movie this week?
Are you going to a movie tonight, or maybe tomorrow? Look around
the room. Are there any newspapers lying on the floor? Any magazines
on your table? Any books on your shelves? It's always been your
right to read or see anything you wanted to. But now it seems
to be getting kind of complicated. For the past week, in Washington,
the House Committee on Un-American Activities has been investigating
the film industry. Now, I have never been a member of any political
organization. But I've been following this investigation and I
don't like it. There are a lot of stars here to speak to you.
We're show business, yes. But we're also American citizens. It's
one thing if someone says we're not good actors; that hurts, but
we can take that. It's something else again to say we're not good
Americans! We resent that!"
Garland railed against the gathering tornado
that would strike "Wizard of Oz" lyricist Yip Harburg,
and so many other Tinseltown talents, on the star-studded Oct.
26, 1947 broadcast. The following day, the first "unfriendly
witness" took the stand to testify before the House Un-American
Activities Committee (HUAC).
This year marks the 60th anniversary of
the Hollywood 10 and the Hollywood Blacklist, an epidemic of censorship
in the movie industry that set the stage for "McCarthyism,"
a term that evokes the fearful and oppressive mood of that bygone
era and resonates with our current age of repression under the
Better Red Than Dead
By the time the so-called "inquisition
in Eden" officially began, Hollywood had already been in
reactionaries' sights for a long time. According to "The
Marxist and the Movies," Larry Ceplair's new biography of
screenwriter Paul Jarrico, J. Edgar Hoover led the attack against
left-leaning La-La-Land, authorizing a "massive investigation
of the industry under the code name COMPIC (Communist Infiltration-Motion
Picture Industry)." When anti-Semite and racist John Rankin
became chairman of HUAC in 1945, the Mississippi congressman claimed
he was investigating "one of the most dangerous plots ever
instigated for the overthrow of the government. ... The information
we get is that [Hollywood] is the greatest hotbed of subversive
activities in the United States. We're on the trail of the tarantula
now, and we're going to follow through."
It's true there was a significant left-wing
and Communist Party [CP] presence in Hollywood during the 1930s
and '40s. The 1929 stock market crash and ensuing Depression
led onetime Communist Ring Lardner Jr., who won the Oscar for
co-authoring 1942's "Woman of the Year," to conclude,
"The whole system had broken down and was not going to be
fixed. That it needed a change."
"From the time of the Spanish Civil
War, the CP fought fascism abroad and at home," contended
Norma Barzman, who wrote "The Red and the Blacklist: The
Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate." The ex-Communist
added, "During the Roosevelt years, the CP was responsible
for Social Security, unemployment insurance legislation. ... We
got the teenage Latinos off for the Sleepy Lagoon murder [in L.A.].
... We fought racism against the Japanese [and other minorities].
Hollywood's Reds were inspired by the
Russian Revolution and its use of movies as agitprop, as evidenced
by Lenin's dictum: "For us, the cinema is the most important
of the arts."
Talking pictures also spurred the creation
of Hollywood's Left. Unlike silent films, the talkies needed dialogue
writers, so studios recruited playwrights from Broadway, including
radicals such as John Howard Lawson and Clifford Odets. They "brought
to Hollywood the dissatisfaction of Dramatists Guild enlightenment
and union tradition," Nancy Lynn Schwartz wrote in "The
Hollywood Writers Wars." As a playwright, it troubled Lawson
that screenwriters had fewer rights and didn't receive appropriate
The Hollywood Left brought the war for
social and economic justice home to the movie colony. Lester Cole
called writers "the niggers of the studio system," grousing
that "1 percent of what American movie-goers pay for their
entertainment is allocated to ... screenplays." Donald Ogden
Stewart, whose screen credits included the Hepburn pics "Holiday"
and "The Philadelphia Story," ranked screenwriters'
status "below the heads of publicity but above the hairdressers."
According to Paul Buhle and Dave Wagner's "Radical Hollywood,"
while 10 percent of screenwriters made more than $10,000 annually,
50 percent-plus earned under $4,000 and 30 percent made less than
$2,000 per year. Junior writers earned $35 weekly.
"We organized the guilds and unions-they
have all these benefits we fought for-and went out on strike for
the medical, pensions and what young people today take for granted,"
noted Barzman, whose husband Ben co-wrote 1944's "Meet the
People," starring Lucille Ball.
Hollywood's Reds Go To War
Before America entered World War II, Hollywood
Communists and independent leftists-such as Lawson and Charlie
Chaplin, respectively, in "Blockade" and "The Great
Dictator"-struggled to sound the alarm about fascism. Two
events turned these lone wolves crying out in the wilderness into
mainstream town criers. The Hitler-Stalin Non-Aggression Pact
of 1939 sidelined the Soviet Union-and CPUSA-from the antifascist
cause, until the Nazis invaded the USSR on June 22, 1941. Then,
on Dec. 7, 1941, Imperial Japan struck Pearl Harbor.
Hollywood's Reds rejoined the crusade
against fascism with gusto. The pent-up antifascist ardor of individual
members was now unleashed against an external enemy. Instead of
being "premature antifascists," Communists were now
on the side of official U.S. foreign policy and the studios, fighting
to save the world from totalitarianism. __As Howard Zinn pointed
out, "It became easier to have antifascist films after the
U.S. was in the war." In "Radical Hollywood," Buhle
and Wagner declared, "The Party out-patrioted everyone else
in Hollywood, from films to sales of war bonds and, above all,
in mobilizing public support for the servicemen. ... So, in a
real sense, the Left's Hollywood moment had come. The politically
shaded films on international themes that had been impossible
to make as late as 1938-39 became barely possible in 1940, and
sometimes wildly popular as well as widely admired by 1941-42."
Alec Baldwin, narrator of 1996's "Blacklist:
Hollywood On Trial" documentary, commented: "Hollywood
produced hundreds of patriotic war films. ... Left-wing writers
were in demand. They could express the ideals the soldiers were
fighting for." Ready for their close-ups, many WWII pictures
were co-created by Hollywood Reds and independent leftists, including:
"Sahara," "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," "Pride
of the Marines," "Watch on the Rhine," "Back
to Bataan" and "Casablanca."
The Cold War
As WWII ended, Lardner experienced "a
growing good feeling." As he put it, "An Allied victory
... had been won by the two great powers ... one democratic, one
Communist, who ... work[ed] together for shared ideals,"
he said. But in "I'd Hate Myself in the Morning," the
left-leaning screenwriter noted, "Almost no one had anticipated
how quickly the tide would turn to rightist reaction. ..."
Hollywood was particularly hard-hit by postwar backlash. "One
of the first acts of the Republicans who took control of Congress
in 1946 (for the first time in 20 years) was to convert a temporary
[HUAC], which had been investigating fascist sympathizers during
the war, into a permanent [committee] concentrating on the ...
left," Lardner said. __When the Cold War between the USSR
and U.S .heated up, HUAC congressmen charged that there was "subversive
influence in motion pictures," and that Communists had infiltrated
the motion picture industry. The Reds-under-the-beds inquisitors,
arguably, had a point. Lawson, first president of the Writers
Guild of America (WGA), became a card-carrying Communist, as did
moviedom's highest paid screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo. Lardner (who'd
received one of the largest fees ever paid to a 1940s screenwriter)
wrote in his autobiography that the party had 200 members in the
creative community. Barzman, author of "The End of Romance,"
estimated that 400 directors, writers and actors belonged to the
CPUSA. In "The Marxist and the Movies," Larry Ceplair
quotes a 1943 FBI report claiming there were 347 members of the
party's Hollywood section. In "The Final Victim of the Blacklist,
John Howard Lawson, Dean of the Hollywood Ten," author Gerald
Horne quotes California party leader William Schneiderman as stating
that the CP had 5,000 to 6,000 members in California.
was made during October 1944 hearings in L.A., convened by the
California Legislature's Committee on Un-American Activities,
presided over by Sen. Jack Tenney. CP screenwriters Lawson, Maltz
and Waldo Salt were interrogated; all denied party membership.
Lawson was also asked about his father's changing of the family's
Jewish surname, interracial dancing and marriage.
In 1944, Hollywood conservatives formed
the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals
(MPAPAI), whose members included John Wayne, Ward Bond and Adolphe
Menjou. The MPAPAI was a right-wing counterpart to progressive
organizations such as the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, the Hollywood
Democratic Committee, and the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee
of the Arts, Sciences and Professions. After WWII, the U.S.-USSR
alliance collapsed. An outbreak of strikes shook the motion picture
industry from 1945-1946, defeating the left-leaning Conference
of Studio Unions. For the first time since 1928, the Republicans
took over Congress in 1946. According to Neal Gabler's "An
Empire of Their Own," the MPAPAI invited HUAC to Tinseltown
to investigate the Red menace in movies. The stage was set for
the inquisition in Eden.
Congress' House Un-American Activities
Committee geared up for the final solution to the Hollywood Reds
problem. The committee included arch-segregationists and anti-Semites;
Gabler notes, "Robert Stripling, HUAC's new counsel, was
a Southern white supremacist who had previously assisted ... a
former publicist for the [pro-nazi German] Bund." On Feb.
6, 1947 Gerhart Eisler testified before the committee. A prominent
German communist exile, Gerhart's brother, Hans, composed music
for Hollywood pictures, such as 1943's anti-Nazi "Hangmen
Also Die," directed by Fritz Lang and written by Bertolt
In March 1947, former U.S. Chamber of
Commerce President Eric Johnston, then the Motion Picture Association
of America's (MPAA) president, appeared before HUAC. In May, the
committee received a special appropriation of $75,000. HUAC installed
itself in L.A.'s Biltmore Hotel, and on May 8-9, 1947 it interviewed
14 friendly witnesses, including Robert Taylor, who'd starred
in "Song of Russia," co-written by CP members Paul Jarrico
and Richard Collins. Lela Rogers was miffed by the Bolshie dialogue
Trumbo put in her daughter Ginger's mouth in "Tender Comrades":
"Share and share alike-that's democracy." Anti-communist
actor Adolphe Menjou and mogul Jack Warner cooperated with HUAC;
J. Edgar Hoover also appeared.
Hollywood Fights Back
In response to the HUAC's actions, Hollywood
liberals and lefties began organizing. A mass rally at Gilmore
Stadium in May 1947 featured Progressive Party presidential candidate
Henry Wallace and Katharine Hepburn, who delivered a speech written
by Trumbo: "Silence the artist, and you silence the most
articulate voice the people have. Destroy culture and you destroy
one of the strongest sources of inspiration from which a people
can draw strength to fight for a better life."
Meanwhile, on Sept. 24, 1947, the committee
grilled Hanns Eisler. On Sept. 27, HUAC subpoenaed 24 "friendly"
(some had previously testified during HUAC's closed sessions in
L.A.) and 19 "unfriendly" witnesses (mostly Jewish),
summoning them to Washington.
In Tinseltown, John Huston, then vice
president of the Directors Guild, met with director William Wyler
and screenwriter Philip Dunne (neither of whom were part of the
"Unfriendly 19") to create a group called the Committee
for the First Amendment. CFA organized Hollywood's liberals and
left to resist HUAC, and lyricist Ira Gershwin hosted a star-studded
anti-witch-hunt party that included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall,
Edward G. Robinson, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Burt Lancaster,
Danny Kaye, Billy Wilder and others. Their position was that the
impending inquisition had nothing to do with communism per
se but was about civil liberties, especially free speech.
Some 500 people signed an anti-HUAC petition.
A phone hookup at Wyler's home allowed
unfriendly witnesses already in Washington, such as Adrian Scott,
to inform the West Coast CFA about what was happening in the capital.
According to Lawrence Grobel's "The Hustons," Bacall
said, "it was a cry for help. They wanted a group of us to
come to Washington to give them moral support. ... There was no
talk of communism-communism had nothing to do with it. It had
to do with the Hitlerian tactics being employed" by HUAC.
CFA organized a flight of the stars aboard
Howard Hughes' plane to fly to D.C.. Garfield, Sterling Hayden,
Marsha Hunt, Jane Wyatt, Paul Henreid, June Havoc, Larry Adler
and Evelyn Keyes joined Gershwin, Bogart, Bacall, Kelly, Kaye,
and their spokesmen, Huston and Dunne, on the trip Washington.
On Oct. 26, a day before the Hollywood
10 began testifying, the anti-HUAC celebrities aired the first
of a two-part national broadcast called "Hollywood Fights
Back!," co-written by Norman Corwin and Robert Presnell Jr.,
and featuring Garland, Kelly, Bacall, "Bogie," Robinson,
Lancaster, Henreid, John Beal and William Holden.
Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been?
The hearings in the Caucus Room of the
Old House Office Building was a congressional media circus worthy
of a Hollywood production. Rep. J. Parnell Thomas chaired the
committee that included Congressman Richard Nixon. Preparing the
scene for the drama to unfold, beginning Oct. 20, 1947, the cooperative
witnesses were the first to take the stand. The "friendly
witnesses" were allowed to read prepared statements, starting
with three producers: Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer (ex-chairman
of the Republican Party's California State Committee) and Sam
Warner told HUAC: "Ideological termites
have burrowed into many American industries, organizations and
societies. Wherever they may be, I say let us dig them out and
get rid of them. My brothers and I will be happy to subscribe
generously to a pest-removal fund. We are willing to establish
such a fund to ship to Russia the people who don't like our American
system of government and prefer the Communistic system to ours."
Russian émigré Ayn Rand
attacked "Song of Russia," complaining that the Soviet
peasants smiled too much. Red-baiter Adolphe Menjou testified
on Oct. 21 that he believed the Communist Party should be "outlawed."
Friendly witnesses Walt Disney, Robert Taylor, Robert Montgomery,
George Murphy, Gary Cooper and Ronald Reagan also testified. While
HUAC asked unfriendly witnesses about left-wing affiliations,
the committee didn't ask "Coop" about his membership
in the 1930s right-wing paramilitary group Hollywood Hussars.
__In 1947, Reagan was not only Screen Actors Guild president,
but according to Victor Navasky, "FBI informant 'T-10,' "
who "enforced the blacklist." In "Naming Names,"
Navasky writes that under special agent Reagan's SAG presidency,
the guild "banned Communists and noncooperative witnesses
The Unfriendly or Hollywood 19 were: Richard
Collins, Howard Koch, Gordon Kahn, Robert Rossen, Waldo Salt,
Lewis Milestone, Irving Pichel, Larry Parks, Bertolt Brecht, John
Howard Lawson, Dalton Trumbo, Albert Maltz, Alvah Bessie, Samuel
Ornitz, Herbert Biberman, Edward Dmytryk, Adrian Scott, Ring Lardner
and Lester Cole. Despite their subpoenas, the first eight weren't
called to testify during the 1947 hearings. Brecht, a German immigrant
who'd written plays such as "Galileo" (about inquisitions
and recanting), appeared Oct. 30 and denied Communist Party membership.
Although Thomas praised Brecht as a "good example" for
other witnesses, the playwright made monkeys out of HUAC. Immediately
after the hearings, Brecht fled America, eventually relocating
to East Germany.
The remaining "unfriendlies"-Lawson,
Trumbo, Maltz, Bessie, Ornitz, Biberman, Dmytryk, Scott, Lardner
and Cole-became the Hollywood 10. They insisted that, as Philip
Dunne put it, "any official inquiry into political beliefs
and affiliations was unconstitutional." After collaborators
had poisoned the atmosphere and tainted their reputations, the
10 were called to testify.
On Oct. 27, Lawson- the "Grand Pooh-Bah
of the Communist movement," according to screenwriter Martin
Berkeley-was the first to testify. Lawson protested the fact that
he, unlike the cooperative testifiers, was not permitted to read
a prepared statement, and in a combative interchange, he tried
to do so.
While Lawson attempted to speak, HUAC
Chairman Thomas banged his gavel 16 times, reportedly breaking
it. The Hollywood 10's legal strategy was to stand on First Amendment
rights in refusing to answer questions regarding political affiliation,
which might not only incriminate them but could lead to being
questioned about others. Lawson was asked, "Are you now or
have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" He responded,
"It is unfortunate and tragic that I have to teach this committee
the basic principles of American-" but the gavel-pounding
chairman drowned out the witness, declaring, "That is not
the question," and ordered officers to drag Lawson away.
__The animosity of that initial exchange colored the remainder
of the hearings and its aftermath. When Thomas asked Lardner about
party membership, he quipped: "I could answer ... but if
I did, I would hate myself in the morning." Thomas ordered
the feisty Lardner to "leave the witness chair" and
had an attendant officer "take the witness away."
Albert Maltz dubbed investigator Stripling
"Mr. Quisling," referring to Norwegian leader Vidkun
Quisling, who had collaborated with the Nazis. While police held
him, Trumbo shouted, "This is the beginning of the American
Part two of the "Hollywood Fights
Back!" radio program was nationally broadcast Nov. 2, with
Danny Kaye, Dorothy McGuire, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Peter Lorre,
Richard Conte, Richard Rodgers, Rita Hayworth, Jane Wyatt and
John Huston. But their effort was in vain. __The Hollywood 10
were cited for contempt of Congress Nov. 24, 1947. Meanwhile,
the MPAA held a secretive financiers' and producers' pow-wow in
Manhattan called the "Waldorf Conference." On Nov. 25,
1947, MPAA President Johnston announced:
"Members of the Association of Motion
Picture Producers deplore the action of the 10 Hollywood men who
have been cited for contempt. We do not desire to prejudge their
legal rights, but their actions have been a disservice to their
employers and have impaired their usefulness to the industry.
We will forthwith discharge or suspend without compensation those
in our employ and we will not re-employ any of the 10 until such
time as he is acquitted or has purged himself of contempt and
declares under oath that he is not a Communist. On the broader
issues of alleged subversive and disloyal elements in Hollywood,
our members are likewise prepared to take positive action. We
will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party
... which advocates the overthrow of the government. ... "
The opposition back in Tinseltown began
crumbling. Many were dismayed by the militancy of Lawson and others,
as well as by their legal strategy. Bogart publicly recanted.
Leftists were voted out of leadership positions in the talent
guilds. The Hollywood Blacklist was in full swing.
Fade to Blacklist
In early 1948, the Hollywood 10 were tried
for contempt of Congress. Fate intervened; two liberal Supreme
Court justices had died since 1947 and were replaced by conservatives.
The defendants were found guilty, fined up to $1,000 and sentenced
to up to one year behind bars. By 1950, the 10 lost their appeals-in
April the Supreme Court decided not to hear their case.
In 1951, HUAC launched new witch-hunting
hearings; more witnesses were called, and the uncooperative ones
were blacklisted by the movie industry. Among the 300-plus talents
denied employment in Hollywood was "Oz" lyricist Yip
Harburg, who had won an Oscar for co-writing "Over the Rainbow,"
the song that put Judy Garland on the movie map.
Collaborators such as Elia Kazan and Budd
Schulberg, who named names, were generally allowed to continue
making movies. Since the First Amendment defense had failed to
keep the 10 out of jail, dissidents changed their legal strategy.
As screenwriter Robert Lees-blacklisted in 1951 for refusing to
name names-recounted: "After the 10 were imprisoned, and
the anti-Communist McCarran and Smith Acts were passed, the Fifth
Amendment against self-incrimination became the defense. The
government couldn't jail and fine you for contempt of Congress,
but the punishment came from the studios, who fired you."
Pleading the Fifth also protected witnesses from naming others.
Actor Larry Parks testified March 21,1951:
"I don't think this is American justice to make me ... crawl
through the mud. ... This is what I beg you not to do." Pressured
to inform, Parks insisted: "I am no longer fighting for myself,
because I tell you frankly that I am probably the most completely
ruined man that you have ever seen. I am fighting for a principle.
... I don't think that it is in the spirit of real Americanism."
Despite his confessions and informing, Parks was blacklisted.
Not everybody informed or crawled. During
her May 21, 1952 HUAC session, Lillian Hellman's letter stated:
"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's
fashions. ... "
Actor Lionel Stander often played tough
guys. During his May 6, 1953 HUAC hearing, Stander pretended that
he was going to cooperate, but mocked the witch-hunters instead:
"I know of some subversive activities in the entertainment
industry and elsewhere in the country," he said. "I
know of a group of fanatics who are desperately trying to undermine
the Constitution of the United States by depriving artists and
others of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness without due process
Paul Robeson appeared before HUAC June
12, 1956. When asked the $64 question, the actor and singer responded:
"What do you mean by the Communist Party? ... Do you mean
a party of people who have sacrificed for my people, and for all
Americans and workers, that they can live in dignity? Do you mean
How did the Hollywood blacklist work in
practice? "Commies" were denounced as Stalinist agents
helping Moscow spread world domination and subverting movies.
Those subpoenaed or otherwise named had to denounce not only their
left-wing ties but name others who'd had progressive links. Those
who recanted purged themselves and were considered generally "rehabilitated"
and could return to work.
Besides HUAC, there was another way to
smear members of the entertainment industry. "Red Channels,
the Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television,"
was a paperback brochure published in 1950 by former FBI agents.
"Red Channels" listed the names of suspected Communist
Party members and the organizations they allegedly supported.
"It was one way of vetting people," explained Nat Segaloff,
who co-wrote "The Waldorf Conference."
In describing HUAC's mission, Chairman
Thomas declared that his committee "has the responsibility
of exposing and spotlighting subversive elements wherever they
may exist. It is only to be expected that such elements would
strive desperately to gain entry to the motion picture industry
[which] offers such a tremendous weapon for education and propaganda."
Was this conservative charge true? One
person's "subversion" is another's "freedom fighting."
Although it's rarely noted, Hollywood's Golden Age also coincided
with its "Crimson Era," when Left Coast Reds and independent
leftists had their greatest influence on the industry.
"We were idealists ... who wrote
humanist films about real people with real problems ... progressive
films way ahead of their time-feminist, anti-racist-mostly well-made
little 'B' films, such as Robert Rossen's "Marked Woman"
, starring Bette Davis [and Humphrey Bogart], and John Howard
Lawson's "Smash-Up" , starring Susan Hayward.
They did not try to get in any Communist propaganda," insisted
Alvah Bessie's son Dan stressed, "The
CP line was identical with the line of lots of democratic Americans.
Lots of people besides Communists were opposed to racism, wanted
to portray blacks in a fair and democratic way." Anti-fascism
reflected CP policies, "but was also part of Roosevelt New
Deal politics ... of the whole thrust of democratic sensibilities
... part of which included the CP line, Dan Bessie said, adding
that at the time there were also "people who injected stuff
of a similar nature into films who weren't Communists."
Sidney Buchman, the screenwriter of 1939's
"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," starring Jimmy Stewart
as an idealistic senator fighting corruption, was a card-carrying
Communist. Yes, Hollywood Reds and independent leftists tried
to work their progressive politics into films, but movies and
moviegoers are better off because of the conscience and consciousness
they injected into mass entertainment. I'm glad movies like "Mr.
Smith" were made-aren't you?
Moviedom suffered when many of its most
committed creative people were banished, causing a leveling of
artistic expression. A repressive culture of conformity swept
1950s' America. Costa-Gavras, director of the Oscar-winning "Z,"said:
"For the cinema and democracy, this was one of the darkest
periods of the American story. There is not any doubt."
But the blacklist couldn't last forever.
Screenwriters used pseudonyms and fronts to sell scripts; Trumbo
even won an Oscar under a pen name. In 1958, independent producer
Stanley Kramer hired two blacklisted screenwriters, Ned Young
and Harold Jacob Smith, to write "The Defiant Ones."
The title sequence rolled their credits under their faces, as
they briefly appeared onscreen. In 1960, Otto Preminger and Kirk
Douglas allowed Trumbo to receive screen credit for "Exodus"
and "Spartacus." Eventually, the blacklist dissolved
and a handful of blacklisted artists made comebacks.
Commemorating the Hollywood Ten and the
According to Costa-Gavras, the Hollywood
Blacklist is "a period we should visit, and try to see what
happened, and why that happened to understand it, so it won't
be repeated." The upcoming 60th anniversary of the Hollywood
Ten "needs to be marked," insists Lawson biographer
In January 2007 blacklist survivors and
their relatives, a member of the original Committee for the First
Amendment and supporters met to discuss appropriate ways to commemorate
the 60th anniversary of the Hollywood Ten and Blacklist. They
formed a sort of exploratory group, the Committee for the First
Amendment '47/'07, and considered proposals for righting wrongs
and raising awareness, including: _Congressional apologies from
the House of Representatives for the House Un-American Activities
Committee and from the Senate for Senator Joe McCarthy's Senate
Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; a star for the Hollywood
Ten and Blacklistees on Hollywood's Walk of Fame; and a special
Oscar for the Hollywood Ten and Blacklistees.
Addressing and redressing these grievances
is not merely an exercise in ancient history. The Committee for
the First Amendment '47/'07 seeks to raise consciousness about
the legacy of the Hollywood Ten and the Blacklist, and their relevance
vis-à-vis repression in our own age: the PATRIOT Act, extraordinary
rendition, Guantanamo, torture, habeas corpus, mass detentions,
preventive war, warrantless wiretapping and other forms of surreptitious
surveillance, as well as other "homeland security" measures.
On October 26, the exact 60th anniversary
of the Committee for the First Amendment's first "Hollywood
Fights Back!" broadcast, contemporary talents, along with
blacklist survivors and their relatives, will reenact the original
1947 radio program. The performers scheduled to participate include:
former SAG President Ed Asner, Norma Barzman, Larry Gelbart, Isabelle
Gunning (ACLU/SC President), Marsha Hunt, Camryn Manheim, Ramona
Ripston, Christopher Trumbo, James Whitmore, and Becca Wilson.
The event, presented by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California,
will take place at L.A.'s Skirball Center. For information, call
(213) 977-9500, ext. 227.
Los Angeles-based film historian Ed
Rampell (named after Edward R. Murrow) wrote "Progressive
Hollywood: A People's Film History of the United States"
(The Disinformation Co., 2005).