1957 February 24

Academy Awards Votes to Bar HUAC Witnesses


The Academy Awards committee, it was reported on this day, voted to deny eligibility for an Oscar to anyone who either admitted to being a member of the Communist Party or who refused to cooperate with an official legislative investigating committee. The new rule, passed at the last minute, was directed at Michael Wilson, screenwriter for the film, Friendly Persuasion, which was under consideration for several Oscars, including best screenplay. Wilson was named an “unfriendly witness” by HUAC in its investigation of alleged Communist influence in Hollywood.

Wilson had a distinguished career before being blacklisted. He contributed to the famous film, It’s A Wonderful Life, and shared an Oscar for the acclaimed film, A Place in the Sun. After being blacklisted, he anonymously contributed to the scripts for Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. He was eventually allowed to work under his own name and wrote the script for the original version of Planet of the Apes (which includes a wicked parody of the House Un-American Activities Committee; see February 8, 1968).

Learn more:  Michael Freedland, with Barbara Paskin, Witch-Hunt in Hollywood: McCarthyism’s War on Tinseltown  (2009)

And more: Larry Ceplair and Steven Englund, Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930–1960 (1980)

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