“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

On Nov. 25, 1947, studio executives released a statement declaring that they would not employ 10 prominent writers and directors who had been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to confirm or deny that they were communists.

Who were the Hollywood ten?

"Who were the Hollywood Ten? This 1950 documentary gives us a closer look at the ten blacklisted film writers and directors who defied the government and the sentiments of their day by refusing to testify during the HUAC anti-Communist hearings. John Berry, who directed the documentary, was blacklisted himself upon its release." (Ironweed Films)


Hollywood Blacklist


Blacklist protest

The Hollywood Blacklist came into being in 1947 when the House Committee on Un-American Activities(HUAC) began to summon certain Hollywood entertainment professionals on the suspicion that their work was communist-inspired. As the media began extensive coverage of the proceedings, some writers, producers, and directors became known as the "Hollywood Ten."


All 10 served time in 1950 for up to a year in prison, fined $1,000, and were “blacklisted." From then on, they faced a difficult time finding a job anywhere in media-based production. The blacklist eventually grew to 150 names and persisted up to the 1960s. 


Hollywood 10

Hollywood Ten,  in U.S. history, 10 motion-picture producers, directors, and screenwriters who appeared before the House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1947, refused to answer questions regarding their possible communist affiliations, and, after spending time in prison for contempt of Congress, were mostly blacklisted by the Hollywood studios. The 10 were:

 Alvah BessieHerbert BibermanLester ColeEdward DmytrykRing Lardner, Jr., John Howard LawsonAlbert MaltzSamuel OrnitzAdrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo.

The group originally included the German writer Bertolt Brecht, but Brecht fled the country on the day following his inquest, and the remaining 10 were voted in contempt of Congress on Nov. 24, 1947. Convicted in federal court the following year, they were given sentences of six months to one year in prison. (While in prison, Dmytryk broke with the rest and agreed to cooperate, admitting being a communist and giving the names of 26 others.)

With the exception of Dmytryk, the group was severely blacklisted by the film industry. Most were never again employed in Hollywood, but some did write scripts under pseudonyms. As “Robert Rich,” Trumbo won an Academy Award Oscar for best screenplay for The Brave One (1956). The red blacklist disappeared by the early 1960s, and Trumbo and Lardner subsequently wrote screenplays under their own names.

"Hollywood Ten". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 2016