On This Date- October 20th

                The mug of cider simmered slow,
                                       The apples sputtered in a row,

Image of American poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

                      And, close at hand, the basket stood…
  ,,, With nuts from brown October’s wood.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–92)

Oct 20, 1947: Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood

On October 20, 1947, the notorious Red Scare kicks into high gear in Washington, as a Congressional committee begins investigating Communist influence in one of the world’s richest and most glamorous communities: Hollywood.

After World War II, the Cold War began to heat up between the world’s two superpowers—the United States and the communist-controlled Soviet Union. In Washington, conservative watchdogs worked to out communists in government before setting their sights on alleged “Reds” in the famously liberal movie industry. In an investigation that began in October 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) grilled a number of prominent witnesses, asking bluntly “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” Whether out of patriotism or fear, some witnesses—including director Elia Kazan, actors Gary Cooper and Robert Taylor and studio honchos Walt Disney and Jack Warner—gave the committee names of colleagues they suspected of being communists.

A House Committee on Un-American Activities he...
Image via Wikipedia

A small group known as the “Hollywood Ten” resisted, complaining that the hearings were illegal and violated their First Amendment rights. They were all convicted of obstructing the investigation and served jail terms. Pressured by Congress, the Hollywood establishment started a blacklist policy, banning the work of about 325 screenwriters, actors and directors who had not been cleared by the committee. Those blacklisted included composer Aaron Copland, writers Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman and Dorothy Parker, playwright Arthur Miller and actor and filmmaker Orson Welles.

Some of the blacklisted writers used pseudonyms to continue working, while others wrote scripts that were credited to other writer friends. Starting in the early 1960s, after the downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the most public face of anti-communism, the ban began to lift slowly. In 1997, the Writers’ Guild of America unanimously voted to change the writing credits of 23 films made during the blacklist period, reversing—but not erasing—some of the damage done during the Red Scare.

History This Week
Oct 20, 1947
Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood
Oct 21, 1959
Guggenheim Museum opens in New York City
Oct 22, 1962
Cuban Missile Crisis
Oct 23, 2002
Hostage crisis in Moscow theater
Oct 24, 1901
First barrel ride down Niagara Falls
Oct 25, 1881
Pablo Picasso born
Oct 26, 1881
Shootout at the OK Corral
From HISTORY.COM
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One thought on “On This Date- October 20th

  1. Pingback: This day in history : 10/20/11 | American Freedom

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