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.
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.
- “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
For more information about The Hollywood Ten and the McCarthy Era, try these links:
- 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, and films).
- 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.