1948 January 9

Hollywood Ten Arraigned for Contempt of Congress

 

The Hollywood Ten was a group of screenwriters and directors who refused to answer questions about their political associations at hearings held by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), beginning on October 27, 1947. On this day, they were arraigned on charges of contempt of Congress. Eventually, they were all found guilty, served time in prison, and were blacklisted from working in the movie industry. Members of the Hollywood Ten included writer Dalton Trumbo, Ring Lardner, Jr, and Adrian Scott.

Contempt of Congress indictments became a heavy weapon against alleged subversives during the Cold War. While it had rarely been used before World War II, HUAC issued 21 contempt citations in 1946, 14 in 1947, and 56 in 1950. All other House Committees in those years issued a total of only 6 contempt citations.

The Hollywood studios announced the blacklist on December 3, 1947, and the ACLU promptly criticized it on December 14, 1947.

After prison, and blacklisted from working in Hollywood, members of the Ten survived in various ways. Dalton Trumbo worked on many films under pseudonyms. And in fact he won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as “Robert Rich” on March 27, 1957, for the film The Brave One. Ring Lardner eventually was able to work in Hollywood and won fame as the screenwriter for the film M*A*S*H, which then became one of the most popular television programs in the 1970s.

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

Watch the short 1950 documentary, The Hollywood 10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taancRcLQ8o

See a Filmography of Movies About the Red Scare in Hollywood: http://www.lib.washington.edu/exhibits/AllPowers/film.html

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