1951 September 19

All-Time “Namer of Names,” Martin Berkeley Names 100+ to HUAC

 

Screenwriter Martin Berkeley on this day named about 150 people as current or former communists in testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). There is debate over the exact figure, but a recent book on the film High Noon (see below) puts the figure at around 180 because he named additional people after this initial testimony. Berkeley holds the notorious distinction of being greatest “namer of names” in the history of HUAC.

HUAC had investigated alleged communists in Hollywood in the late 1930s. The most famous (or infamous) set of hearings began on October 27, 1947, with the first confrontation with the “Hollywood Ten,” screenwriters and directors who refused to answer the committee’s questions about their political associations. all ten were cited for contempt of congress, convicted, and sentenced to prison. All were blacklisted upon their release from prison. The Hollywood Ten included Dalton Trumbo, who successfully broke the blacklist on January 20, 1960, and Ring Lardner, Jr., who later regained the opportunity to work in Hollywood and was the screenwriter for the highly successful film “M*A*S*H. See Lardner’s HUAC testimony on October 30, 1947.

The film industry announced its blacklist of people who were either members of the Communist Party or who had refused to testify before any legislative committee on December 3, 1947.

Berkeley had himself been a member of the Communist Party from 1937 to 1943, which he admitted, and it was from those years that he identified people in his testimony. There is much dispute, however, whether all of the people he named were in fact Communist Party members. Berkeley testified before HUAC again in 1953.

Berkeley’s career as the all-time namer of names is covered in Glenn Frankel, High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic (2017)
Learn more about “naming names:” Victor Navasky, Naming Names (1980)

Read about the history of HUAC: Walter Goodman, The Committee: The Extraordinary Career of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (1968)

 

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