These ten witnesses knew they had three options. They could claim they were not and never had been members of the Communist Party (this would have meant perjuring themselves); they could admit or claim membership and then be forced to name other members (and this would have meant losing their jobs both because of their former membership and their dubious position as informers); or they could refuse to answer any questions (which is the choice they made). Although most lawyers would agree today that the Fifth Amendment gave them tire right to choose this last option, the committee (and then the courts during appeals) did not agree. All ten were held in (contempt and subsequently served between six and twelve months in jail, although one, Edward Dmytryk , later agreed to cooperate with the committee and did not serve his entire
sentence. The remaining nine were blacklisted by the Hollywood film community and found themselves forced to use pseudonyms in order to sell scripts. (“Robert Rich”, for instance, who won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for “The Brave One” in 1956, was actually the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo.) Immediately after these ten men went before the committee, fifty Hollywood executives gathered for a two–day secret meeting. Knowing that they could face huge losses at the box office no matter what the committee’s findings, they debated the best way to handle the situation. On November 24, 1947, they announced as a group that the Hollywood Ten were suspended without pay. Furthermore, they issued a statement that declared, “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.” While this statement was purposely worded ambiguously, in the end it served to encourage and condone a ten–year blacklist. From 1951 to 1954, HUAC, now directed by John S. Wood, again focused on Hollywood, compiling a list of 324 present and former Hollywood workers who supposedly were or had been members of the Communist Party. Whether or not these people admitted membership, they ended up on an unofficial blacklist. Even cooperative witnesses who named others or renounced their own former membership in the party were on the list. Of these 324 people, 212 were actively working in Hollywood during this time, and thus lost their jobs.
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