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The Hollywood Ten
Week of November 23, 1997
Fifty years ago, on November 24, 1947, The Un-American Activities Committee found the "Hollywood Ten"
in contempt because they refused to reveal whether they were communists or not. This
is a part of history that was hardly covered in my history classes in school. The
entire "McCarthy Era" was glazed over and barely acknowledged. I wonder if it was because
of shame or if it was still too controversial to cover when I was a child. The most
coverage this era received was in my literature class when we read The Crucible by
Arthur Miller. He was a victim of a blacklist that started with a senator named
Joseph McCarthy, along with Richard M. Nixon and Chairman J. Parnell Thomas, was
involved with The Un-American Activities Committee. Over
the span of a few years, this committee systematically brought people to them on the
charges that they were "un-American." There were a group of ten artists affiliated
with Hollywood that were brought before this committee who refused to answer
whether they were communists on the grounds that what senator McCarthy was doing was
unconstitutional. Many famous actors and actresses, like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren
Bacall, went to Washington to support these industry leaders, only to find themselves
threatened with blacklists.
The following quotes are meant to be read in groups of two. The first is a quote that
supports this sort of witch-hunting, and the second is another quote rebuking it.
Introduction and quote compilation by Laura S. Moncur, Staff Writer.
For more information about The Hollywood Ten and the McCarthy Era, try these links:
- "I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five [people] that were
known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who
nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department."
- Joseph Raymond McCarthy, speech, Wheeling, West Virginia, Febuary 9, 1950
- "In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because
I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I
wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because
I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up
because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me - and by that time no one was left
to speak up."
- Pastor Martin Niemoller, Dachau, 1944
- "Rebellion is like witchcraft. That's what it is, it's like witchcraft."
- Missouri State Rep. Jean Dixon, on labeling "offensive music". USA Today, March 20, 1990
- "A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the
political world as storms in the physical."
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
- "It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women
to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism
and become lesbians."
- Pat Robertson, The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1993
- "After ages of transmitted prejudice and silly teaching, only one person in
twenty puts any real heart into the harrying of a witch. And yet apparently everybody
hates witches and wants them killed. Some day a handful will rise up on the other side
and make the most noise -- perhaps even a single daring man with a big voice and a
determined front will do it -- and in a week all the sheep will wheel and follow him,
and witch-hunting will come to a sudden end."
- Mark Twain, "The Mysterious Stranger", 1922
Blacklist: Hollywood on Trial - A site containing biographies of blacklisted artists
and a short synopsis of the effects of McCarthyism on Hollywood.
- The following books and tapes are available through Amazon.com:
Odd Man Out : A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten, Paperback
Radical Innocence : A Critical Study of the Hollywood Ten by Bernard F. Dick, Paperback.
A look at the work of the Hollywood Ten (short stories, novels, plays, criticisms, poems, memoirs,
The Crucible : A Play in Four Acts by Arthur Miller, a victim of the blacklist, Paperback.
This play was written in response to the "witch-hunting" activities of Senator
Joseph McCarthy in the early 1950s. Set in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts.
The Crucible Audio Cassette of the play by Arthur Miller.
McCarthyism - The Yahoo list of links for information related to McCarthyism.
Blacklisted Hollywood - A transcript of the October 24, 1997 Newshour, which includes
links to other sites. There is an interview with Paul Jarrico and Marsha Hunt, two
victims of this era.