1952 April 10

Naming Names: Famed Director Elia Kazan Names 8 People Before HUAC


The noted theater and film director Elia Kazan on this day named eight people who he had known to have been members of the Communist Party in testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He had refused to name names in his initial appearance before the committee in January 1952, but changed his mind and in order to avoid being blacklisted decided to name names.

His naming names on this day provoked a bitter controversy that lasted for decades. Most important, it destroyed his friendship with playwright Arthur Miller. Kazan directed Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1949 play, Death of a Salesman. Miller wrote the play, The Crucible (January 22, 1953), about the Salem Witch trials (June 10, 1692), which most critics regarded as a critique of the anti-Communist movement of the Cold War. Kazan directed the famous film, On the Waterfront (July 28, 1954), to justify the importance of naming names.

Kazan was awarded an honorary Oscar on March 21, 1999, and the Academy Awards ceremony was protested by Hollywood figures, many of whom had been blacklisted during the Cold War. Some people refused to attend the ceremony, and some who were there refused to stand when a received the award.

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

Learn about On the Waterfront: http://www.imdb.com/find?q=on+the+waterfront&s=all

Watch a documentary on the Miller-Kazan Conflict: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gjf_8hxXx0

Learn more about the “naming names” ritual in the Cold War: Victor Navasky, Naming Names (1980)

Learn more about HUAC: http://www.history.com/topics/house-un-american-activities-committee

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