Monday, February 8, 2010

Hollywood Blacklist 1947-1950s

“How can you write if you can’t cry?” ~Ring Lardner 1885 – 1933), American sports columnist, short story writer, known for his humor and satire.

When I first saw this quote I had believed it to be the Ring Lardner who had been one of the Hollywood Ten, the Blacklisted screenwriters and entertainers of the Senator Joseph McCarthy era—the House Un-American Activities Committee. But that person was screenwriter, Ring Lardner Jr., son of Ring Lardner.

More than 300 artists—including screenwriters, directors, actors, and others in the entertainment industry were blacklisted by the studios.

I’m reminded I did met a few of those writers who had been blacklisted and had their careers affected by having to testify before the Committee. Of those were film and TV screenwriters, Alfred Levitt, who appeared before the committee in 1951, and his wife Helen Slote Levitt. For nearly twenty years following the Committee appearance, they were forced to write under the pseudonyms of Tom August and Helen August. Beginning in 1988, Levitt led an effort through the Writers' Guild to correct film credits from the blacklist era, in which it became common for the work of blacklisted writers to be uncredited, or credited using pseudonyms. Numerous films have now been correctly credited due to the efforts that Alfred Levitt led.

In 1995, Alfred and Helen Levitt were awarded The Morgan Cox Award by the Writers Guild, presented to that member or group of members whose vital ideas, continuing efforts and personal sacrifice best exemplify the ideal of service to the guild.

Helen passed away in 1993 and Alfred in 2002. They were a very nice couple.


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