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Black List
A dark chapter in the American film history

"Have you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?"

was the most feared question in the 40's and 50's in Hollywood. The smallest suspicion to be oriented left-wing was enough in order to put someone on the black list or that their lives became difficult.

The "House Committee on Un-American Activities" (HUAC) had had his roots in the late 30's and early 40's. The HUAC established that communists should have settled in the most important position of the mass entertainment. They reproached them to place subversive statements in the Hollywood movies and to discriminate against unpleasant colleagues. The movie "Mission to Moscow" represented the height of pro-Russian movies and was seized together with other movies as opportunity for interventions of HUAC in Hollywood. They assumed that the communism infiltrated the cinema and used it as a weapon and for dissemination of propaganda.

A first wave of questionings was organized in Hollywood in 1947, which sometimes reminded one remarkable to the questionings during the Nazi time in Germany. A committee investigated the communism in the entertainment industry. The aim of these questionings was find out names of members or of a different way of thinking. A second wave was staged in 1951 which the aim to make someone do denouncement other persons.

This time is also designated as the McCarthy era. Joseph Raymond McCarthy (1908-1957) was an American senator which took the lead as figurehead of the anti communistic persecution campaign. McCarthy himself wasn't involved in the witch-hunt in Hollywood himself. The chairmen of the committee were John E. Rankin and J. Parnell Thomas who based their activities on the foundation of the HUAC. The power of McCarthy dwindled when he even exercised attacks against members of the U.S. Army and with it the former General and then US president Dwight D. Eisenhower snubbed. The senate censorshipped McCarthy and the Army hit back by initiating there own investigations against offense of the committee members. McCarthy went down in power and support in the population. McCarthy died in 1957 because of alcohol misuse.

During the first questionings in 1947 there were summoned 19 filmmakers, 10 of them refused to give evidence and declared the committee as unconstitutional. These 10 persons were accused of contempt of Congress and sentenced to imprisonment. They went down in history as the "Hollywood Ten". These were Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott and Dalton Trumbo. Edward Dmytryk consent in 1951 to give evidence to the committee and was finally striked off the list again. By it he had another chance to work in the USA after he realized three movies in the English exile.

Two months late the film directors seated together and decided no one to occupy from the communist party:
"We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the Government of the United States by force, or by any illegal or unconstitutional method". With it they gave the black list that power to destroy careers.

They assume that there were 324 persons on the black list and that 200 other persons were banished from the film industrie in an other way.

The one who was on the black list had to reckon with a working prohibition. Often this produced a whole chain reaction. After a working prohibition it followed mental and physical stress and  marriages went on the rocks.
It didn't make any difference if they really had a communistic attitude or not in order to be registered on the black list. The merely denial to give evidence in front of the committee was enough to be registered on the list.
Sam Jaffe and Lee Grant belonged to these victims. Sam Jaffe, formerly a well-known actor and Oscar winner in 1950 was registered on the black list because refused to cooperate with the committee. After that he practised the profession of a math teacher and he lived at his sister's. Lee Grant was registered on the black list because she refused to give audience against her husband Arnold Manoff. In later years she celebrated a magnificent come back when she got two Oscars as actress and documentary film maker.

Startled of the consequences there were several stars who agreed to mention names of other film makers during the questioning to escape of a possible working prohibition, other were convinced to serve their country.. Some of them regretted their cooperation afterwards.

One example of the consequences: Larry Parks was at the beginning of his career when he was forced to name names. Among others he mentioned Anne Revere, Gale Sondergaard, James Cagney, John Garfield (whose early dead is connected with the black list), Sterling Hayden, Madeleine Carroll, Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson and Lee J. Cobb (But Parks was put on the black list).
Then Lee J. Cobb was forced to do statements. He refused successful for two years but then he gave the pressure way. Appropriate to testimonies he named following persons as party members:
Marc Lawrence, Lloyd Bridges, Rose Hobart and Jeff Corey.
Even 20 years later he blamed himself for his weakness in those days and gave himself a hard life. He never could excuse himself for this.

Also filmcomposer David Raksin get into the awkward situation to make statements or to risk a working prohibition. Raksin said later:

"My family wouldn't had had to eat any longer, no home. These thoughts didn't let me fall asleep any more".

In 1951 he gave evidence in front of the committee and hoped to trick the black list. He didn't name persons who weren't already mentioned on the list. Moreover he asked in his circle of friends if he is allowed to mention there name.

These examples demonstrate which strange scenes were caused because of the political situation. Most of the persons concerned weren't heros and denounced their best friends.

Some of the excluded film workers were able to evade the black list by using pseudonyms or hiring ghost writers.
The most famous example in this categorie is the writer Dalton Trumbo.

Dalton Trumbo was one of the "Hollywood Ten" and on the list since 1947. However Trumbo managed it to fool the control authority by writing scripts with the pseudonym Robert Rich. The situation was reduced to absurdity when Dalton Trumbo won an Oscar in 1954 and 1957 for "Roman Holiday" and "The Brave One". Ian McLellan Hunter who also was on the black list later, offered his services as a ghost writer for "Roman Holiday". During the Academy Award in 1957 for "The Red One" the "Writer's Guild" found out that they didn't lead a Robert Rich in their files. The Oscar disappeared in the cellar of the Academy again and fell into oblivion gradually. The name of Dalton Trumbo appeared on the screen only since 1960 once more. In 1975 he announced that he is the real winner of the Oscar of 1957. Finally he received the trophy. Together with the use of his pseudonym there were some workmates who gave their consent to make available themselves as authors of Trumbo's scripts. With it they secured Trumbo's survival.

The director Elia Kazan (e.g. East of Eden) is regarded as one of the most notorious informers. He told in his circle of friends that he will answer for them. But only one month later he gave evidence and snubbed his environment. He became an informant in order to protect his career. But not the fact of his statement cheerfulness made him hated - many others did so before and after him - but his eagerness he did it. After the hearing he made a statement where he made known what he said and why, and that other citizen should follow his example. Deep down Kazan was divided. He knew that it was wrong to name colleagues. But at the end there was only one question left: To refuse the statement and no longer to be able to work, or to name colleagues like many others and continue the career. He settled on the latter.
Abraham Polonsky, also a writer on the black list, commented on:

"...it was not a moral, ethical, or political question at all. It was a practical question - but people don't like to see it that way because it makes their character less worthy".

That the era of the 40's and 50's still today cause quite a stir turned up during the Academy Award in 1999. Elia Kazan got the Honorary Award for his long, distinguished and unparalleled career during which he has influenced the very nature of filmmaking through his creation of cinematic masterpieces (statement of the Academy). The audience was very splitted up in their emotion. Some of them paid tribute to Kazan with standing ovations, others remainded demonstrative motionless seated.

Till today it is not possible to say exactly how many artists were put on the black list. When the witch-hunt was officially dismissed, there were several hundred actors, writers and directors who lost their work, some of them chose the suicide.
Meanwhile the black list continued existing. Only when Otto Preminger for "Exodus" and Kirk Douglas for "Spartacus" showed Dalton Trumbo to be the official author, the power of the black list was finally broken.

The parody "The Front" with Woody Allen in the leading role was shot in 1976. The script was written by Walter Bernstein who also was an author on the black list. Bernstein got an Oscar for this work - a late triumph over the McCarthy era and satisfaction for one of many.

Only in 1992 the "Writer's Guild" made inquiries to check the correctness of the mentioned cast of different movies. If possible they replaced the pseudonyms and ghost writer by the real film maker. And it even lasted till 1997 until the "Writer's Guil" officially apologized for their active support of the communist baiting in the 40's and 50's.

Today it is hardly conceivable which pressure the persons had to stand at that time and what led to their different decisions in the end. We are not in the position to condemn these decisions, at the most we are able to weigh the responsibility of the made decision of the then politic (from today's view) but not the decision itself.

An other famous writer, who was on the black list, was Howard Koch. Along with a lot of other scripts he also wrote the movie classic "Casablanca" (1942), for which he got an Oscar together with the Epstein Brothers.
In a letter to me he also gave his opinion about the time of the black list. I finish this report about the McCarthy era and the black list with his lines.

We were all part of the progressive movement that flourished during the Franklin Roosevelt Presidency, some members of the party, others, like myself, not members but working along with them on good causes to make a better world - and also better movies. When Roosevelt died, the reactionary element took over, began to dismantle the New Deal and start the Cold War to stop the spread of socialism here and abroad. It was simply a class struggle, capitalism taking its stand against socialism (which they mis-named communism and which doesn't exist.)
Since I was against war, hot or cold, they had to get rid of me and others like me. It was not personel, there was no malice. We were caught in an historical situation".

The Black List of Hollywood:

* Aaron Copland, composer
* Abe Burrows, playwright and lyricist
* Abraham Polonsky, screenwriter and director
* Adelaide Klein, actress
* Adrian Scott, producer and screenwriter
* Alan Campbell, screenwriter
* Alan Loma, folklorist and musicologist
* Albert Bein, screenwriter
* Albert Maltz, screenwriter
* Aleander Kendrick, journalist and author
* Aleander Knox, actor
* Alfred Drake, actor and singer
* Alfred Lewis Levitt, screenwriter
* Alfred Palca, writer and producer
* Aline MacMahon, actress
* Allan Sloane, radio and TV writer
* Allen Boretz, screenwriter and songwriter
* Alvah Bessie, screenwriter
* Ann Shepherd, actress
* Anne Froelick, screenwriter
* Anne Green, screenwriter
* Anne Revere, actress
* Arnaud d'Usseau, screenwriter
* Arnold Manoff, screenwriter
* Arnold Perl, producer and writer
* Art Smith, actor
* Arthur Gaeth, radio commentator
* Arthur Laurents, writer
* Arthur Miller, playwright
* Arthur Strawn, screenwriter
* Artie Shaw, jazz musician
* Avon Long, actor and singer
* Barbara Bel Geddes, actress
* Ben Barzman, screenwriter
* Ben Bengal, screenwriter
* Ben Grauer, radio and TV personality
* Ben Maddow, screenwriter
* Ben Myers, attorney
* Bernard Gordon, screenwriter
* Bernard Reis, accountant
* Bernard Vorhaus, director
* Bert Gilden, screenwriter
* Bess Taffel, screenwriter
* Betty Todd, director
* Betty Winkler (Keane), actress
* Bill Meléndez, animator
* Bill Scott, voice actor
* Burgess Meredith, actor
* Burl Ives, folk singer and actor
* Canada Lee, actor
* Carl Foreman, producer and screenwriter
* Carl Lerner, editor and director
* Charles Chaplin, actor, director and producer
* Charles Collingwood, radio commentator
* Charles Dagget, animatore
* Charles Irving, actor
* Charles Korvin, actor
* Clifford J. Durr, attorney
* Coby Ruskin, TV director
* Constance Lee, screenwriter
* Cy Endfield, screenwriter and director
* Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter
* Daniel James, screenwriter
* Danny Dare, choreographer
* Dashiell Hammett, writer
* David Hilberman, animator
* David Robison, screenwriter
* Dean Dion, conductor
* Dolores del Río, actress
* Donald Ogden Stewart, screenwriter
* Donna Keath, radio actress
* Dorothy Comingore, actress
* Dorothy Parker, writer
* Dorothy Tree, actress
* E. Y. "Yip" Harburg, lyricist
* Earl Robinson, composer and lyricist
* Eddie Albert, actor
* Edith Atwater, actress
* Edward Chodorov, screenwriter and producer
* Edward Dmytryk, director
* Edward Eliscu, screenwriter
* Edward G. Robinson, actor
* Edward Huebsch, screenwriter
* Edwin Rolfe, screenwriter and poet
* Ella Logan, actress and singer
* Elliott Sullivan, actor
* Faith Elliott, animator
* Feli Knight, singer and actor
* Francis Edward Faragoh, screenwriter
* Frank Tarloff, screenwriter
* Frederic I. Rinaldo, screenwriter
* Fredi Washington, actress
* Gale Sondergaard, actress
* Garson Kanin, writer and director
* George Corey, screenwriter
* George Keane, actor
* George Sklar, playwright
* George Tyne, actor
* Gordon Kahn, screenwriter
* Guy Endore, screenwriter
* Gypsy Rose Lee, actress
* Hannah Weinstein, producer
* Hanns Eisler, composer
* Harold Buchman, screenwriter
* Harold Goldman, screenwriter
* Harold Rome, composer and lyricist
* Harry Belafonte, actor and singer
* Hazel Scott, jazz and classical musician
* Helen Slote Levitt, screenwriter
* Helen Tamiris, choreographer
* Henry Blankfort, screenwriter
* Henry Morgan, actor
* Henry Myers, screenwriter
* Herbert Biberman, screenwriter and director
* Herschel Bernardi, actor
* Hester Sondergaard, actress
* Hilda Vaughn, actress
* Himan Brown, producer and director
* Horace Grenell, conductor and music producer
* Howard Bay, scenic designer
* Howard Da Silva, actor
* Howard Dimsdale, writer
* Howard Duff, actor
* Howard Fast, writer
* Howard K. Smith, journalist
* Howard Koch, screenwriter
* Hugo Butler, screenwriter
* Hy Kraft, screenwriter
* Ian McLellan Hunter, screenwriter
* Irene Wicker, singer and actress
* Irving Lerner, director
* Irving Pichel, director
* Irwin Corey, actor and comedian
* Irwin Shaw, writer
* J. Raymond Walsh, radio commentator
* Jack Gilford, actor and comedian
* Jack T. Gross, producer
* Janet Stevenson, writer
* Jay Gorney, screenwriter
* Jean Muir, actress
* Jean Rouverol (Butler), actress and writer
* Jeff Corey, actor
* Jerome Chodorov, writer
* Jerry Fielding, composer
* Joan Scott, screenwriter
* Joe Julian, actor
* Johannes Steel, journalist
* John "Skins" Miller, actor
* John Berry, actor, screenwriter and director
* John Bright, screenwriter
* John Brown, actor
* John Cromwell, director
* John Garfield, actor
* John Henry Faulk, radio personality
* John Howard Lawson, screenwriter
* John Hubley, animator
* John Ireland, actor
* John La Touche, lyricist
* John McGrew, animator
* John Randolph, actor
* John Sanford, screenwriter
* John Weber, producer
* John Weley, screenwriter
* José Ferrer, actor
* Josef Mischel, screenwriter
* Joseph Edward Bromberg, actor
* Joseph Losey, director
* Josh White, blues musician
* Joshua Shelley, actor
* Judy Holliday, actress and comedienne
* Jules Dassin, director
* Julian Zimet, screenwriter
* Julius Tannenbaum, producer
* Karen DeWolf, screenwriter
* Karen Morley, actress
* Kenneth Roberts, writer
* Kim Hunter, actress
* Langston Hughes, writer
* Larry Adler, actor and musician
* Larry Parks, actor
* Laurie Blankfort, artist
* Lee Gold, screenwriter
* Lee Grant, actress
* Lee J. Cobb, actor
* Lena Horne, singer and actress
* Leo Hurwitz, director
* Leo Penn, actor
* Leon Janney, actor
* Leonard Bernstein, composer and conductor
* Leonardo Bercovici, screenwriter
* Lesley Woods, actress
* Leslie Edgley, screenwriter
* Lester Cole, screenwriter
* Lester Fuller, director
* Lester Koenig, producer
* Lew Amster, screenwriter
* Lewis Leverett, actor
* Lillian Hellman, playwright and screenwriter
* Lionel Stander, actor
* Lisa Sergio, radio personality
* Lloyd Gough, actor
* Louis Pollock, screenwriter
* Louis Solomon, screenwriter and producer
* Louis Untermeyer, poet
* Louise Fitch (Lewis), actress
* Louise Rousseau, screenwriter
* Ludwig Donath, actor
* Luis Buñuel, director
* Luther Adler, actor and director
* Lyn Murray, composer and choral director
* Madeleine Ruthven, screenwriter
* Madeleine Sherwood, actress
* Madeline Lee, actressd
* Mady Christians, actress
* Marc Blitzstein, composer
* Marc Connelly, playwright
* Margaret Gruen, screenwriter
* Margaret Webster, actress, director and producer
* Margo, actress and dancer
* Marguerite Roberts, screenwriter
* Marsha Hunt, actress
* Martha Scott, actress
* Martin Gabel, actor
* Martin Ritt, actor and director
* Martin Wolfson, actor
* Maurice Clark, screenwriter
* Maurice Rapf, screenwriter
* Meg Mundy, actress
* Michael Blankfort, screenwriter
* Michael Gordon, director
* Michael Uris, writer
* Michael Wilson, screenwriter
* Mickey Kno, actor
* Millard Lampell, screenwriter
* Millen Brand, writer
* Minerva Pious, actress
* Mitch Lindemann, screenwriter
* Mitchell Grayson, radio producer and director
* Morris Carnovsky, actor
* Mortimer Offner, screenwriter
* Morton Gould, pianist and composer
* Morton Grant, screenwriter
* Myron McCormick, actor
* Naomi Robison, actress
* Nat Hiken, writer and producer
* Nedrick Young, actor and screenwriter
* Norma Barzman, screenwriter
* Norman Corwin, writer
* Norman Lloyd, actor
* Norman Rosten, writer
* Olin Downes, music critic
* Oliver Crawford, screenwriter
* Orson Bean, actor
* Orson Welles, actor, writer and director
* Oscar Brand, folk singer
* Paul Draper, actor and dancer
* Paul Draper, actor and dancer
* Paul Green, playwright and screenwriter
* Paul Jarrico, producer and screenwriter
* Paul Mann, director and teacher
* Paul McGrath, radio actor
* Paul Robeson, actor and singer
* Paul Stewart, actor
* Paul Trivers, screenwriter
* Paula Miller, actress
* Pert Kelton, actress
* Pete Seeger, folk singer
* Peter Lyon, television writer
* Peter Viertel, screenwriter
* Phil Brown, actor
* Phil Eastman, cartoon writer
* Philip Loeb, actor
* Philip Stevenson, writer
* Phoebe Brand, actress
* Ralph Bell, actor
* Ray Lev, classical pianist
* Ray Spencer, screenwriter
* Reuben Ship, screenwriter
* Richard Attenborough, director and producer
* Richard Collins, screenwriter
* Richard Dyer-Bennett, folk singer
* Richard Weil, screenwriter
* Richard Wright, writer
* Richard Yaffe, journalist
* Ring Lardner Jr., screenwriter
* Robert L. Richards, screenwriter
* Robert Lees, screenwriter
* Robert Lewis Shayon, former president of radio and TV directors' guild
* Robert P. Heller, television journalist
* Robert St. John, journalist
* Roderick B. Holmgren, journalist
* Roger De Koven, actor
* Roman Bohnen, actor
* Rosaura Revueltas, actress
* Rose Hobart, actress
* Ruth Gordon, actress and screenwriter
* Ruth McKenney, writer
* Sam Jaffe, actor
* Sam Wanamaker, actor
* Samson Raphaelson, screenwriter and playwright
* Samuel Ornitz, screenwriter
* Selena Royle, actress
* Seymour Bennett, screenwriter
* Shepard Traube, director and screenwriter
* Sheridan Gibney, screenwriter
* Shimen Ruskin, actor
* Shirley Graham, writer
* Sidney Buchman, screenwriter
* Sidney Kingsley, playwright
* Sol Barzman, screenwriter
* Stanley Prager, director
* Stella Adler, actress and teacher
* Tamara Hovey, screenwriter
* Theodore Ward, playwright
* Tom Glazer, folk singer
* Tony Kraber, actor
* True Boardman, screenwriter
* Uta Hagen, actress and teacher
* Val Burton, screenwriter
* Vera Caspary, writer
* Victor Kilian, actor
* Viola Brothers Shore, screenwriter
* Vladimir Pozner, screenwriter
* W. L. River, screenwriter
* Waldo Salt, screenwriter
* Walter Bernstein, screenwriter
* Will Geer, actor
* William L. Shirer, journalist
* William N. Robson, radio and TV writer
* William Pomerance, animation executive
* William S. Gailmor, journalist and radio commentator
* William Sweets, radio personality
* William Sweets, radio personality
* Zero Mostel, actor and comedian