1958 November 12

Joseph Papp, Fired, Blacklisted, Ordered Reinstated in Job at CBS


Joseph Papp, later famous as the founder of both Shakespeare in the Park and The Public Theater in New York City, had been fired from his job as stage manager at CBS because he had taken the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on June 19, 1958. The Radio and Television Directors Guild appealed his firing, and on this day, an arbitrator ordered him reinstated. The reinstatement was based on his union contract and not on the basis of constitutional law.

Papp later went on to a celebrated career in the American theater as founder of both the Public Theater in New York City and Shakespeare in the Park.

During the Cold War many people were fired from their jobs for invoking the Fifth Amendment before HUAC and other investigating committees, even though the right to do so is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights (see, for example, April 30, 1954). In 1954, a national controversy erupted over the fact that so many witnesses before HUAC and other investigating committees were asserting their Fifth Amendment right that they were labelled “Fifth Amendment Communists.” See, for example, February 5, 1954 and June 24, 1954.

Read: Helen Epstein, Joe Papp: An American Life (1994)

Watch an interview with Joe Papp: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khzPwtzTXl0

Learn more about the Public Theater: http://publictheater.org/Tickets/

And about Shakespeare in the Park: http://www.shakespeareinthepark.org/

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