Labor History in 2:00

November 24 - The Hollywood Ten

November 24, 2021

On this day in Labor History the year was 1947 that was the day that the US House of Representatives found ten Hollywood writers and directors in contempt for their alleged ties to Communism. 

The decision was based on the House Un-American Activities Committee’s finding the ten to be in contempt the week before. 

More than forty screenwriters, directors and producers were brought before the committee to testify about allegations of rampant Communist activities in the movie-making industry. 

During the Cold War fear of Communism reached a fevered pitch. 

This included the fear that Communists were infiltrating Hollywood to spread their message to the public through the movies. 

Ten refused to answer the committee’s questions or to name names of other potential Communists. 

Each of the ten was fined $1,000, sentenced to a year in prison, and blacklisted from working in Hollywood. 

Perhaps the most well-known of the ten was one of Hollywood’s leading screenwriters, Dalton Trumbo. 

He served 11 months in federal prison for refusing to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee. 

While he was blacklisted he wrote the screen play for Roman Holiday, the romantic film starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.  

Since Trumbo could not take credit for the film, another screenwriter friend put his name on it. 

Roman Holiday won the 1953 Academy Award for best screenplay.

Three years later another Trumbo script, The Brave One also received the Academy Award. 

Finally, in 1960 Trumbo worked on Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed film Spartacus. 

Kubrick refused to remove Trumbo from the credits—busting the blacklist. 

In 2015, actor Bryan Cranston starred in a film about Trumbo’s life. 

During the House Un-American Activities Committee’s hearings, the Screen Actors Guild passed a resolution that members had to disavow any ties to the Communist Party. 

They also elected actor Ronald Regan president of their union. 

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