Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Arts and Entertainment

Stars To Reenact HUAC Hearings, 70 Years After Hollywood Blacklist

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Friday, October 27 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the so-called Hollywood Ten's testimony in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), created to root out suspected Communists during the Cold War era. To revisit that moment, the Writers Guild of America Foundation is co-sponsoring a live reenactment of the HUAC hearings.

As any L.A. history nerd will tell you, the "Hollywood Ten" were a group of 10 screenwriters cited for contempt of Congress and blacklisted for refusing to testify in front of HUAC. Among them were Alvah Bessie, Ring Lardner Jr, and Dalton Trumbo, the Roman Holiday and Spartacus writer whose blacklisting and time in federal prison were the subject of the 2015 film Trumbo.

Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland and a host of other Hollywood luminaries showed support for the Hollywood Ten and other blacklisted writers who refused to name names by joining the Committee for the First Amendment, as well as creating Hollywood Fights Back, a nationwide radio program aimed at opposing HUAC and advocating free speech. (@ youths: radio programs were the original political podcasts.)

Support for LAist comes from

Celebrities including Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss and Rosario Dawson will take part in the HUAC reenactment at the Writers Guild Theater in Beverly Hills this Friday. Victims and surviving relatives of the Hollywood Blacklist will also appear at the event, including 100-year-old actor Marsha Hunt, 97-year-old screenwriter Norma Barzman, and Kirk Douglas' granddaughter Kelsey. Dennis Kaye’s band Swing Inc. will perform songs from Blacklist-related movies like The Way We Were. The event will include special video presentations from Lee Grant and Ed Asner, and a clip on blacklisted screenwriters from the new French documentary Red In Blue.

"Un-American: A Reenactment of the HUAC Hearings" is also intended to shine a light on today's increasingly fractious political climate; the event's organizers point out that some of the Trump administration's actions, such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions' Justice Department demanding IP addresses of 1.3 million visitors to an anti-Trump website and Trump urging NFL owners to fire football players who protest during the national anthem, look familiar to those who remember the Red Scare of the 1940s and '50s. "Lest we forget, Sen. Joe McCarthy and Trump both had the same lawyer - Roy Cohn," the event description notes.

If you're craving more Hollywood Blacklist content, watch Liza Minelli recite writer Lillian Hellman's 1952 letter to HUAC, in which she famously wrote, "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to suit this year's conscience." (Tell 'em, Lillian.)

“Un-American: A Reenactment of the HUAC Hearings” will take place at the Writers Guild Theater, 135 S. Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills, this Friday, October 27. Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts 7 p.m. "Front Row Seat" tickets, which run $100 each, are sold out, but tickets in the tickets in the $75, $50, and $25 levels are all still available.