What Was The Hollywood "Black List"?

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In 1947 several movie studio executives assembled at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York to put together a list of alleged communist sympathizers, which became known as the Hollywood Black List. At that time the United States and other democratic countries such as Great Britain and France were engaged in a cold war (unarmed political conflict) with the Soviet Union, which was headed by a communist regime (a government that controls all aspects of the lives of its citizens). Many Americans feared that communists would infiltrate the U.S. government and other institutions. The movie executives named some three hundred writers, directors, actors, and others who were suspected to have communist party affiliations or who had invoked the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination when questioned by the House committee to Investigate Un-American Activities. Ten people whose names were on this list refused to tell the committee whether or not they had been communists: Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr, John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo. These ten people were "blacklisted" (prevented from working in the film industry) by Hollywood on November 25 and all spent some time in jail for refusing to testify.

Further Information: Levy, Frederick. Hollywood 101: The Film Industry. Los Angeles: Renaissance Books, 2000; Murphy, Brenda. Congressional Theatre: Dramatizing McCarthyism on Stage, Film, and Television. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999; Rosteck, Thomas. See it Now Confronts McCarthyism: TV Documentary and the Politics of Representation. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1994; Schrecker, Ellen. The Age of McCarthyism. Boston: Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1994.

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