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October 26: Hollywood Fights Back

October 26, 2011

Hollywood_Fights_Back_2A national radio broadcast written by Norman Corwin,Hollywood Fights Back!”, was aired on this date in 1947. The show featured forty-five Hollywood personalities, with an opening narrative by Judy Garland: “Have you been to a movie this week? . . . It’s always been your right to read or see anything you wanted to. But now it seems to be getting kind of complicated. For the past week, in Washington, the House Committee on Un-American Activities has been investigating the film industry. Now, I have never been a member of any political organization. But I’ve been following this investigation and I don’t like it. . . .” The two-part broadcast (listen to Part 2 here) was a protest against HUAC’s summoning by subpoena of nineteen “unfriendly” witnesses, most of them Jews, to testify about communist influence in Hollywood. Ten of the nineteen — the Hollywood Ten — were ultimately called before the Committee, cited for contempt of Congress, and jailed. Part 2 of the star-studded “Hollywood Fights Back!” was aired on November, 2, 1947. For a brief, detailed history of McCarthyism in Hollywood, click here.

“The Hollywood Left brought the war for social and economic justice home to the movie colony. Lester Cole called writers ‘the niggers of the studio system,’ grousing that ‘1 percent of what American movie-goers pay for their entertainment is allocated to ... screenplays.’ Donald Ogden Stewart, whose screen credits included the Hepburn pics Holiday and The Philadelphia Story, ranked screenwriters’ status ‘below the heads of publicity but above the hairdressers.’ ” —Ed Rampell