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The Hollywood Blacklist was initiated in November 1947. It involved the denial of employment to actors, directors, musicians, and screenwriters who sympathized with the communists or had any ties with them. The events leading to the initiation of this list were 10 directors and writers who supposedly refused to stand before the House Un-American Activities Committee and testify. The directors and writers were openly defying the investigative committee because they did not agree with the methods used for investigation. This open defiance resulted in a jail term for the 10 Hollywood entertainers. They were also banned from Hollywood studios. These events gave birth to the Hollywood Blacklist which saw several other Hollywood entertainers banned from working in Hollywood.
The relationship between the U.S and Soviet Union was very much strained. The two countries had different systems in which the U.S. was capitalist and the Soviet Union was communist. The U.S. had made its stand clear. It was extremely opposed to the communist system of governance. The sympathy of the 10 Hollywood writers and directors made the U.S. Government not only angry but paranoid as well. They were afraid of the influence these men had in Hollywood (“Effects”). The Hollywood Blacklist brought a lot of tension in the entertainment industry. People started telling on their colleagues and the blacklisted entertainers could not find decent work because no one in Hollywood was willing to hire a blacklisted entertainer. Another effect was the censoring of American films which were produced to portray the U.S. ideals of democracy (Humphries xx).
Famous actor Charlie Chaplin was forced out of the U.S. after being named in the Hollywood Blacklist. His name was only one of many names listed in the list. The other famous Hollywood 10 consisted of famous names such as Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Herbert Biberman, Dalton Trumbo, Samuel Ornitz, Edward Dmytryk, John Howard Lawson, Ring Lardner Jr, and Alvah Bessie ( “Why did the Hollywood Blacklist Happen?”).
These ten people faced severe backlash and their families had it worse. After serving time in prison, they were released only to face a hostile community. A person like Dalton Trumbo started creating pseudonyms because no employer would draw a check to any individual in the blacklist. Dalton adopted a new name which he used to sell his work. He could not use any of his friends’ names because some had left town, others were under the watchful eyes of the law and some of them had also been blacklisted.
In 1957, John Henry Faulk was fired from his work after an investigation by AWARE, a private firm that investigated people suspected to be sympathizers. As a result, John decided to sue AWARE. His campaign was supported by several other individuals (“Inc. John Henry Faulk V. Aware et al: 1962- Faulk Leads Fight against Blacklisting.”) In 1962, John Henry won the lawsuit.
The Hollywood Blacklist affected a lot of people and changed many lives. The people involved in blacklisting the Hollywood entertainers were put on notice by the courts and they were held legally accountable for the damage they caused. Years later, Hollywood has healed from this historical event and today, the establishment enjoys the freedom of expression.
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