Hollywood Ten

The Hollywood Ten were a group of film industry employees who, in October 1947, were called to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) about their alleged involvement with the Communist Party. The Hollywood Ten consisted of director Edward Dmytryk, director and screenwriter Herbert J. Biberman, and screenwriters Lester Cole, Alvah Bessie, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Dalton Trumbo, and Adrian Scott. These men became victims of the virtual witch hunt for suspected communists in the United States during the Cold War.

The 10 men were called as unfriendly witnesses and refused to testify; for their refusal to cooperate they received prison sentences and were blacklisted from the Hollywood film industry. The group invoked the Fifth Amendment, their right to decline to testify, and on November 24, 1947, Congress voted to cite them for contempt. Once convicted, their prison terms ranged from six months to one year. Soon after the men refused to testify, 50 members of the Association of Motion Picture Producers, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers met in New York City to compose a strongly worded response to both the HUAC allegations and the contempt charges brought against the Hollywood Ten. Because the executives had convened at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the document they produced became known as the Waldorf Statement. This document disavowed the actions of the Hollywood Ten and exiled them from the Hollywood film industry until they denied under oath any affiliation with the Communist Party. The statement also declared that executives would not knowingly employ any person who was a

Ten Hollywood personalities, the “Hollywood 10,” stand with their attorneys outside district court in Washington, D.C., before arraignment on contempt of Congress charges, January 9, 1948. The ten were charged for

Ten Hollywood personalities, the “Hollywood 10,” stand with their attorneys outside district court in Washington, D.C., before arraignment on contempt of Congress charges, January 9, 1948. The ten were charged for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee. From left, front: Herbert Biberman, Attorney Martin Popper, Attorney Robert W. Kenny, Albert Maltz, and Lester Cole. Second row, from left: Dalton Trumbo, John Howard Lawson, Alvah Bessie, and Samuel Ornitz. Top row, from left: Ring Lardner Jr., Edward Dmytryk, and Adrian Scott. (AP Photo)

communist, thereby beginning the practice of blacklisting, which would ultimately lead to the firing of more than 300 writers, actors, directors, and producers. The HUAC allegations that communist agents had inserted subversive messages into films lacked any concrete evidence, but films that portrayed socialist ideas, revealed anticapitalist sentiments, attacked anti-Semitism, or praised Russia attracted the attention of the committee. We Who Are Young (1940), Tender Comrade (1943), and Crossfire (1947) were just some of the films that may have implicated those involved with their production, including screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and director Edward Dmytryk. However, despite the lack of evidence, studios were disinclined to make films that dealt with social issues and instead, over the next seven years, produced numerous anticommunist propaganda films including I Married a Communist (1949), Atomic City (1952), and My Son John (1953).

Victoria Williams

See also: Capra, Frank (1897–1991) ; Film ; Hiss, Alger (1904–1996) ; McCarthy, Joseph (1908–1957) ; Popular Culture ; Rosenberg, Julius (1918–1953), and Rosenberg, Ethel (1915–1953)


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