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My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Witch Hunt in Hollywood

Witch Hunt in Hollywood by Michael Freedland.

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Jr Books Ltd (July 25, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1906779090

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Book Description

This is the story of how the politicians took Tinseltown to task in the late 1940s and 1950s. As the Cold War with the Soviet Union began in earnest, the search for 'Reds under the bed', later led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, was felt most keenly in Hollywood where the investigations were carried out under the full glare of the flashlights. Painstakingly researched and drawing on numerous exclusive interviews, the book charts the generation of actors who found their livelihood ruined by being 'blacklisted' and the writers forced to hire 'fronts' to continue to work; it reveals how Arthur Miller was offered the chance to have his hearing dropped in return for a photo-opportunity with Marilyn Monroe; and how Kirk Douglas's naming of Dalton Trumbo as the writer of Spartacus signaled the end of this extraordinary era. Witch Hunt in Hollywood is the definitive account of how political paranoia shaped cinema for a decade. Michael Freedland is an author, journalist and broadcaster. He has written over 40 books, many of them telling the stories of the Hollywood greats, from Frank Sinatra to Al Jolson. He is also a BBC broadcaster and writes regularly for national newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic.

Most of us who have any interest at all in movies and Hollywood have heard about  Hollywood’s “Blacklist” and the investigations by Joseph McCarthy for those who “might be, or ever was a communist”.  Some of us are old enough to have seen the tail end of some of the “interviews” on television. 

Some time ago I read a book by one of the “Hollywood Ten” most involved called Odd Man Out by Edward Dmytryk.  In my many  moves I must  have lost the book because I met Mr Dmytryk once for a few moments late in his life and I wouldn’t have gotten rid of the book. My interest in him was because DeForest had made a few westerns and he was the director and he had some comical stories of working with him.

Anyway..

As I was reading this book (and it is quite informative) I had a feeling in the back of my head that I couldn’t shake.   Quite possibly something I had heard when I was very young while the “trials” were going on.  It lingered in my head while I read.

As a young person I could remember the word “communist” which seemed to be  someone to fear, but I couldn’t remember why.  Nor, why I was so sympathetic to feeling about those being accused of being a communist.

Finally I came to a page that reminded me WHY I was so confused… remember I wasn’t even a teenager when this happened and things influence young children differently than they do an adult..  so, I read:

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I read it and then I understood, once again, why it had never seemed to me to be such a  bad thing to be a “communist”! (back then)  What they told these people was too good to be true.  And we all know better … we know if it sounds too good to be true.. it is too good to be true.

But you have to admit if you were led to believe those things…well.. they sure do sound good!

But even knowing this was what was being told to them, and what they “wanted to believe”…how could you fault them?  How could you ruin their lives because they believed there was a “possible” life where no one was neglected or frowned upon, and everyone, EVERYONE, was truly treated equal. 

However, if you believed what was being preached to them… you were a traitor. You were un-American.  You no longer had the rights of other Americans to believe life could be anything but what it was.  

Later most would learn, that it wasn’t the sort of thing it seemed to be, and there was more to it than meets the eye… but it didn't  help those that got prosecuted back then. And it ruined many lives.  Many more then the Ten that went to prison.

I think this subject is most interesting to me because of knowing DeForest and his connection to the director Edward Dmytryk and because of feeling like I knew a bit about Betty Garrett and her husband Larry Parks from reading Naomi’s blog.  So when those names appeared I took it a bit more personal. 

It’s quite a bit of history for anyone interested in Hollywood and those who have entertained us all our lives.  I would suggest you read this book or another on the topic, there are many books out on McCarthy’s War on Tinseltown.

4 Comments:

Blogger Debi said...

Annie and I spent some time on McCarthyism while studying the 50s this past semester. It was all so disturbing. :( I might have to look into this book.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Cath said...

Fascinating subject and something I knew nothing about (and still not a lot) until I was older as I didn't experience it first-hand of course.

7:18 PM  
Blogger OldLady Of The Hills said...

Being that much older than you, I remember a great deal of it. 'The Hollywood Ten" were all writers and IF they ever actually joined the Communist Party, it was in the late 1930's....MOST, never did actually join the Party, though they may have gone to some meetings at different people's homes, etc....In 1947, my Mother and sister and brother and I went to a Political Rally here in L.A. for someone running for President---Later, it was considered a "red" rally....which was beyond ridiculous. Larry Parks was the very first actor to be called before the committee---He was a VERY big star because of "The Jolson Story"....All of these things were 'orchestrated' by that horrific committee..(This was waaaay before McCarthey)...Hollywood was chosen because these were high profile people that the Public would know or know of, etc., etc.....
After I moved to Los Angeles in 1961, I met so many people who were effected by The Black List....it was just HORRIBLE! Careers were ruined and Lives were ruined--like Eddy Dymytrk....A Shameful time in our History. Truly Shameful! Lee Grant didn't work in films and TV for over ten years---Why? Because she spoke at someone's Funeral who was Blacklisted. Then, SHE was Blacklisted. There are so many story's like that....Devistating in so many ways. People committed Suicide because they couldn't work and they were treated like Parihas...(Forgive all my spelling mistakes, please...)
The most confusing thing to me was that during WW2 Russia was our friend---we all were fighting the Nazi's. I just never could understand how they then became our enemy. Confusing to a Teenager, you know?

I have not read this book, but will try to get it on Amazon.

9:37 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

cath: a number of the accused fled to England!

naomi: I knew you'd speak of this because of Betty and others you knew... i emailed you

6:54 AM  

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