1999 March 21

Elia Kazan Given Honorary Oscar; Award Protested for his Having “Named Names”


The noteded film director Elia Kazan (On the Waterfront, East of Eden) was presented with an honorary Oscar on this day. Because he had “named names” of alleged Communists before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) on April 10, 1952, many victims of the anti-Communist Hollywood blacklist and their supporters protested the award. Some did not attend the ceremony and others who did attend refused to stand when he was on stage.

Kazan directed the film, On the Waterfront, released on July 28, 1954, as an attempt to justify testifying before investigating committees. His former friend and professional colleague, playwright Arthur Miller, wrote the play, The Crucible, which premiered on January 22, 1953, to draw the connection between the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War and the infamous Salem Witch Trials (See the first execution of an alleged “witch” on June 10, 1692).

See the protest of Kazan’s Oscar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWwVVyAfiN0

Learn more: Elia Kazan, Elia Kazan: A Life (1988)

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

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