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Hollywood Blacklist 70th Anniversary Cinema Series

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On June 20, 1950, Hollywood’s “highest paid screenwriter” plus the first president of what is now the Writers Guild of America went to federal prison.

DALTON TRUMBO and JOHN HOWARD LAWSON weren’t convicted of #MeToo Movement offenses or theft of intellectual property or the like. Rather, the “thought crimes” these talents served time for rank their imprisonment near the top in the annals of censorship - and we need your help to remember them and continue the resistance against government repression.

Trumbo and Lawson were the first members of the “Hollywood Ten” to be incarcerated. These progressive artists, mostly screenwriters, had been subpoenaed to testify in October 1947 at Washington before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which was probing allegations of communist subversion in the movie industry. The Ten defied Congress, insisting upon their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and association. During congressional interrogations they refused to become informers, declining to answer inquiries about their political and union affiliations and activities and those of others, questions the Ten believed violated their civil liberties.

Hollywood artists formed the Committee for the First Amendment to oppose HUAC and among the stars who flew from L.A. to Washington to observe the hearings were Marsha Hunt, Sterling Hayden, Danny Kaye and Humphrey Bogart (above).

Lawson was the first to testify and was forcibly removed from the stand. Trumbo concluded his testy testimony by declaring: "This is the beginning of an American concentration camp." For refusing to collaborate with HUAC by confessing their own activist “sins” and informing on friends and colleagues, the Hollywood Ten were cited for contempt of Congress. The movie studios also stopped employing them, launching the Hollywood Blacklist and then McCarthyism.

A number of court cases ensued. Trumbo and Lawson were separately tried for contempt and found guilty, respectively, on April 20 and May 5, 1948. The Ten artists didn’t prevail in the appellate process and the Supreme Court announced it would not review Lawson and Trumbo’s appeals on April 10, 1950. The talents were each sentenced to serve up to one year behind bars and fined up to $1,000.

On June 7, 1950 Trumbo and Lawson were the first of the Hollywood Ten to begin surrendering themselves to authorities in Washington. By June 20, the California residents were incarcerated far from home at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky.

The HUAC hearings and subsequent courtroom proceedings established the legal precedent that American citizens can be compelled to publicly reveal their political and labor affiliations. The conviction and incarceration of the Hollywood Ten also set the stage for a resurgence of the motion picture purge, with HUAC hearings starting up again by March 21, 1951  with actor Larry Parks’ coerced testimony - less than a year after Lawson and Trumbo, followed by the rest of the Ten, had turned themselves in. The HUAC inquisitions, Hollywood Blacklist and McCarthyism lasted through the 1950s, with about 300 screenwriters, actors, directors, producers, etc., banned from working in the movie industry.

Writer Christopher Trumbo and actor Ed Asner talk in the lobby of the WGA Theater at the 2004 memorial service for blacklisted screenwriter Robert Lees. Photo: Ed Rampell

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of this attack on the First Amendment and the ongoing struggle against censorship in our own era, with mass media and dissenters again being labeled, libeled and slandered as “enemies of the people” for publicly expressing views the powers-that-be disagree with, The Progressive Magazine, Hollywood Progressive and Cause Celeb are co-presenting: THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST 70TH ANNIVERSARY CINEMA SERIES: COMMEMORATING THE IMPRISONMENT OF DALTON TRUMBO & THE HOLLYWOOD TEN.

On Friday, June 19, 2020, this monthly program will begin at the Writers Guild of America Theater in Beverly Hills with readings of statements and related texts by and about members of the Hollywood Ten by contemporary progressive artists (schedule permitting), relatives of the Hollywood Ten (including members of the Lawson and Trumbo families) and film historians. Starting with the premiere, the Cinema Series  will screen documentaries, features and shorts focusing on the Hollywood Ten and the Hollywood Blacklist, plus the related phenomenon of McCarthyism. You can support this anti-censorship cause by attending these events.

Mike Farrell portrayed Captain B.J. Hunnicutt on the long-running antiwar TV series "M*A*S*H", co-led Hollywood's  opposition to the Iraq War, and has been active as President Emeritus  of Death Penalty Focus, a spokesperson for Concern America, an international refugee aid  organization, Co-Chair Emeritus of the California Committee of Human Rights Watch and a Good Will Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Photo: Courtesy Mike Farrell.

On June 19 MIKE FARRELL ("M*A*S*H"), one of Hollywood’s top activist actors, will re-enact Dalton Trumbo’s 1947 HUAC testimony. FRENCH STEWART ("3rd Rock from the Sun", "Mom"), who co-starred in the 2019 Blacklist play "Finks", will read from Trumbo’s 1949 essay "The Time of the Toad." A specially prepared video will be screened featuring seven-time Emmy Award winner ED ASNER reenacting the 1947 HUAC testimony of John Howard Lawson, who became the Guild’s first president in 1933. John Howard Lawson relatives will read excerpts from Lawson’s writings/speeches. NANCY ESCHER, who was married to the late Christopher Trumbo, will read a text written by Dalton’s son regarding his father. Historian HARVEY WASSERMAN will provide historical context about the Cold War, Red Scare and Hollywood Blacklist.

French Stewart co-starred with Vanessa Claire Stewart in the 2019 L.A. premiere of Rogue Machine Theatre's production of the anti-HUAC drama "Finks" by playwright Joe Gilford, based on the  blacklisting of his parents Jack Gilford and Madeline Lee.  Photo courtesy: Rogue Machine Theatre

Authors of books about the Hollywood Blacklist and McCarthyism will sign copies of their works at the Writers Guild Theater. The WRITERS GUILD FOUNDATION supports this commemoration and will set up a Hollywood Blacklist-themed archive display in the Theater’s lobby.  

The films screened during THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST 70TH ANNIVERSARY CINEMA SERIES will mostly be about and by the Hollywood Ten. The opening night triple feature at the WGA Theater  includes: "THE HOLLYWOOD TEN", a black and white 15-minute 1950 short directed by John Berry featuring all of the Hollywood Ten. JANE FONDA has been requested to introduce scenes from 1938’s "BLOCKADE", Hollywood’s first major feature about the Spanish Civil War, written by Lawson and starring Henry Fonda.

Jane Fonda (in red), Joaquin Phoenix and other activists at the Feb. 7, 2020 "Fire Drill Fridays" climate crisis protest at L.A.'s City Hall. Photo: Ed Rampell

June 19 is also the 67th anniversary of the execution of the so-called “atomic spies” Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the only American civilians executed during the Cold War. To remember the Rosenbergs, their granddaughter, IVY MEEROPOL, plans to present scenes from her new HBO documentary "BULLY. COWARD. VICTIM. THE STORY OF ROY COHN" - about the man who helped electrocute Ivy’s grandparents.

In addition, June 19 is also Juneteenth, which celebrates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas in 1865. Paul Robeson re-enactor KB SOLOMON will sing Negro Spirituals to commemorate “Freedom Day.”

K.B. SOLOMON  in the one-man show about Paul Robeson “Speak of Me As I Am.” Clip courtesy of KB Solomon

Oscar nominee and three-time Golden Globe nominated actor ERIC ROBERTS and ELIZA ROBERTS will read an appreciation of Eliza’s  mother, LILA GARRETT, KPFK radio host and human rights champion, who was the role model for Barbra Streisand’s activist character Katie Morosky in 1973’s "The Way We Were", which dealt with the Hollywood Blacklist. (All talents will appear on a schedule permitting basis and the program is subject to change.)

Actor Eric Roberts, son-in-law of Lila Garrett, big brother of Julia Roberts, and male lead in movies such as "Star 80". Photographer: Naoko Takagi


The premiere will be emceed by actress TANIA VERAFIELD, granddaughter of blacklisted screenwriter Robert Lees, who co-wrote Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis and other comedies. Tania co-hosted the 70th anniversary commemoration of the start of the Hollywood Blacklist with a star-studded extravaganza at the Writers Guild of America Theater on October 27, 2017. That sold out event included many relatives of blacklisted talents; activists from organizations such as the ACLU; and celebrities, including James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss, Illeana Douglas, TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz, journalist Ellen Ratner, Mike Farrell, Kirk Douglas’ granddaughter actress Kelsey Douglas, 97-year-old blacklisted screenwriter Norma Barzman and 100-year-old actress Marsha Hunt plus Lee Grant in a special appearance via video and others, mostly reading the HUAC testimony of persecuted talents. The Writers Guild Foundation assisted the event, which was repeatedly aired on nationwide TV by C-SPAN (see: 

Blacklisted screenwriter Robert Lees circa 2003. Photo: Ed Rampell

THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST 70TH ANNIVERSARY CINEMA SERIES is being co-initiated by NORMA BARZMAN and film historian/critic ED RAMPELL, who had launched the 2017 commemoration. After the premiere of THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST 70TH ANNIVERSARY CINEMA SERIES, the program will relocate on July 9 to the LA WORKERS CENTER for screenings of documentaries and features about the Hollywood Ten and reading of the testimony of other members of the Ten, to take place on the evenings of the second Thursday of every month from July through December 2020.

 Hollywood Progressive, Cause Celeb Productions and The Progressive Magazine are the co-presenters of THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST 70TH ANNIVERSARY CINEMA SERIES. is an L.A.-based online outlet covering the arts, entertainment and culture from a lefty perspective. Cause Celeb Productions is an entity that taps into star power to commemorate historic events and causes with live productions and presentations, including: 2017’s 70th Anniversary Hollywood Blacklist Commemoration; Rev. Martin Luther King and the 55th anniversary of the March on Washington at the 2018 Left Coast Forum; and 2019’s 400th Anniversary Anti-Slavery Cinema/TV Commemoration.

The Progressive Magazine was founded in 1909 by Wisconsin’s Senator Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette as a Madison-based, national left-leaning publication fighting for ordinary people and their rights. The Progressive is a 501(c)(3) and donations are tax exempt to the full extent of the law.

Funds raised will be used to pay expenses for the opening night event and Cinema Series plus for possible future commemorations of historic events, causes and individuals of a progressive nature.

Woody Allen and Andrea Marcovicci in 1976's "The Front" by blacklisted screenwriter Walter Bernstein and director Martin Ritt. Marcovicci participated in the 2017 Hollywood Blacklist Commemoration at the WGA Theater, re-enacting the real life HUAC testimony of her "Front" co-star Zero Mostel.

Support This Cause and Reserve Your Seats Now:


WHERE: The Writers Guild of America Theater, 135 S. Doheny Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

WHEN: 7:00 -10:30 p.m., Friday, June 19, 2020.

Row A: There are only 3 $150 Best Seats in the House located in the Front Row directly in front of the podium.

Row A: Front Row Seats are $100 each.

Rows B, C, D, E: 80 Front Orchestra Seats are $75.

Rows F - W: Rear Orchestra Seats are $50 each.

Seating will be by row and section but not by seat #, on a first come, first served basis. Only the 3 Best Seats in the House are reserved per se by seat. Buyers of the other Front Row Seats can sit anywhere in the Front Row Seats, Row A. Buyers of Front Orchestra Seats can sit anywhere in the Front Row Seats, Row B - E. Buyers of the Rear Orchestra Seats can sit anywhere in the Orchestra Row Seats, Row F - W.

WHAT: Guaranteed seats at all six of the July - December screenings of THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST 70TH ANNIVERSARY CINEMA SERIES are $100.

WHERE: The LA Workers Center, 1251 S. St. Andrews Place, L.A., CA 90019.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m., on the second Thursday of every month from July through December 2020.

Singer and  Paul Robeson re-enactor KB Solomon. Photo courtesy of KB Solomon

Support this cause by purchasing GIFTS:

The Progressive Magazine is offering only 2 original vintage issues of its long-out-of-print April 1954 issue entitled “McCarthy: A Documented Record” for sale. This was among the first media critiques of despotic Joe McCarthy, the so-called “Junior Senator from Wisconsin.” This hard-hitting special issue is The Progressive’s top bestseller ever for the magazine. The Progressive is offering original issues of this 100-page historic collector’s item for:

The Progressive Magazine is offering replica copies of its long-out-of-print April 1954 issue entitled “McCarthy: A Documented Record” for sale. This was among the first media critiques of despotic Joe McCarthy, the so-called “Junior Senator from Wisconsin.” This hard-hitting special issue is The Progressive’s top bestseller ever for the magazine. Now The Progressive is making reproductions of this 100-page historic collector’s item available for:  $30.

The Progressive is also offering copies of its December 2019/January 2020 issue for sale. It features film/TV historian Ed Rampell’s article “Reckless Cruelty” chronicling the television programs, TV movies, documentaries and feature films about Sen. Joe McCarthy. Magazines autographed by author Ed Rampell are on sale for:

Non-autographed copies of The Progressive’s December 2019/January 2020 issue are on sale for:

Subscription to The Progressive Magazine is available for the introductory rate of:

The Progressive Magazine’s replica of its special 1954 McCarthy issue, autographed copy of December 2019/January 2020 issue with article on the McCarthy movies plus annual subscription are available for:

(Include name and mailing address with orders.)

 Please also consider making a tax deductible donation to support THE HOLLYWOOD BLACKLIST 70TH ANNIVERSARY CINEMA SERIES.

For questions, more information, etc., please contact: [email redacted].

Tender Comrades: Blacklisted screenwriters reunited circa 1999 at the Motion Picture Academy's HQ in Beverly Hills. From left to right: Jean Rouverol Butler, Robert Lees, Norma Barzman, Bernie Gordon. Photo: Ed Rampell

Introduction to the 70th anniversary commemoration of the start of the Hollywood Blacklist at the Writers Guild of America Theater on October 27, 2017, which aired nationally on C-SPAN.  

Actor Sterling Hayden is depicted testifying in this informative brief primer that explains the Hollywood Blacklist.

Dalton Trumbo as he appears in David Helpern's Oscar-nominated documentary about the Blacklist, "Hollywood On Trial".


Cause Celeb
West Covina, CA

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