The Hollywood blacklist came about in 1947 during a national debate on any activity considered Un-American by the House Committee (Horne and Gerald 9). Accordingly, the House Committee began summoning certain individuals or professionals in the Hollywood entertainment, suspected to inspire communist related works. This led to the development of the “Hollywood Ten” primarily composed of directors, producers as well as writers who played major roles in covering these proceedings extensively. However, these “Hollywood Ten” were declining to inform the House Committee if they belonged to the communist party (Krutnik 12). They backed their refusal by arguing that such queries from the committee were improper since they infringed their rights as per the constitution. Consequently, the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 because the “Hollywood Ten” refused to cooperate (Krutnik 12).
All Hollywood professionals who belonged to the “Hollywood Ten” had to serve a jail term that went up to a year including a $1000 fine (Krutnik 14). Moreover, they underwent a ban from practicing their professions within any production that was media-based in the United States. As a result, they faced intense difficulties in securing any type of employment in media-based productions. Hollywood Blacklist lasted from 1950 until 1960, with a growing number of professionals who could not work in the United States’ media based productions (Horne and Gerald 21).
Many sympathizers and members of the “Hollywood Ten” did not hide their views when summoned for hearings by the (HUAC). They believed that the constitution gave them the right to freely associate with any political association. This view was backed by other associations which including Civil libertarians who defended this argument based on the First and Fifth Amendment (Horne and Gerald 23). One particular Mostel indicated that they were ready for discussions regarding their personal conducts; however, they faced with challenges of giving out the names of other individuals due to religious convictions.
Moreover, others did not wish to sacrifice themselves. This is either had left the party or were involved with other antifascist groups. Hence, because of ideological differences such individuals could not endure a suffering for a cause that they already renounced or never embraced. However, because of religious beliefs many individuals believed that it was morally wrong to name other suspected members (Horne and Gerald 27).
During instances where once summoned, one did not manoeuvre but a few refused to cooperate and were unfriendly. Sam Jaffe, who was a lifelong non-communist, blacklisted because he refused to cooperate. Jaffe previously nominated for an Oscar after starring in The Asphalt Jungle produced in 1950. He was also famous for taking leading roles in the production of Lost Horizon in 1937 as well as Gunga Din of 1939 (Krutnik 34). However, after being blacklisted Jaffe’s acting career came to an abrupt end. He resolved to take other professions such as teaching mathematics in high school. This led to economic challenges in his life resulting to live with his sisters. However, later he made a comeback in media based production after starring in successful television series such as Ben Casey. It is important to note that there were those performers who had already become famous and had established their names. These individuals were lucky enough to survive through works on stage unlike those who were at the beginning of their careers.
Horne, Gerald. The Final Victim of the Blacklist: John Howard Lawson, Dean of the Hollywood Ten. U of California P, 2006.
Krutnik, Frank. “un-american” Hollywood: Politics and Film in the Blacklist Era. Rutgers UP, 2007.