1938 August 14

HUAC: Communist Activities “Rampant” in Hollywood


The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), established a little more than two months earlier, on May 26, 1938, wasted no time going after alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. On this day, a committee investigator charged that “all phases of radical and communist activities are rampant among the studios of Hollywood.” Moreover, “film celebrities are using their large salaries to finance communistic activities.” One undercurrent of the attack was hostility to the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, organized on April 26, 1936, which was prominent in opposing Nazi pressures on the film industry to fire Jews, and which had a number of left-wing individuals among its leaders.

The most famous HUAC attack on Hollywood began on October 27, 1947, with highly publicized hearings involving the so-called “Hollywood Ten,”a group of screenwriters and directors who refused to cooperate with the committee,. They were all subsequently cited for contempt of Congress, imprisoned, and then blacklisted from working in the movies (see the beginning of the blacklist, December 3, 1947).

Learn more: Thomas Doherty, Hollywood and Hitler, 1933–1939 (2013)

Learn more about HUAChttp://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/huac

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

Read: Kenneth O’Reilly, Hoover and the Un-Americans: The FBI, HUAC, and the Red Menace (1983)

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