One of “The Hollywood Ten”


“I have here in my hand a list of two hundred and five [people] that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.”

    –Joseph Raymond McCarthy, speech, Wheeling, West Virginia, Febuary 9, 1950

Novelist, screenwriter and brave individual, Dalton Trumbo was born today in 1905. I remember reading his “Johnny Got His Gun” as a young teen and the profound impact it had on me as I read the thoughts of a soldier whose whole body was blown up and only his mind remained. It was a powerful book.

“Then there was this freedom the little guys were always getting killed for. Was it freedom from another country? Freedom from work or disease or death? Freedom from your mother-in-law? Please mister give us a bill of sale on this freedom before we go out and get killed. Give us a bill of sale drawn up plainly in advance what we’re getting killed for… so we can be sure after we’ve won your war that we’ve got the same kind of freedom we bargained for.”-Dalton Trumbo, “Johnny Got His Gun”

And to think, that the writer of the above text was considered a threat to our country? 

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist party?’

In the 1950s, thousands of Americans who toiled in the government, served in the army, worked in the movie industry, or came from various walks of life had to answer that question before a congressional panel.”

Dalton Trumbo was one of The Hollywood Ten, those individuals who were blacklisted because they wouldn’t name names at Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch hunts, the HUAC hearings in the late 40s and early 50s. Trumbo was the screenwriter behind “Spartacus,”  “Roman Holiday” and other big movies. Lives were forever ruined by McCarthyism.  I am so happy a movie is being made about Dalton Trumbo and what he went through. It will star Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad” fame and will be simply and aptly titled, Trumbo. We can never take our liberties and freedoms for granted.

“No man can terrorize a whole nation unless we are all his accomplices.” -Edward R. Murrow, On Senator Joseph McCarthy, See It Now, March 7, 1954






” I Cannot and Will Not Cut My Conscience to Suit This Year’s Fashions.”-Lillian Hellman in Her Letter to House Un-American Activities (HUAC)

As a teenager and adult, I read many works by Lillian Hellman and I was also fascinated with her life, her 30 year affair with the writer, Dashell Hammett, her ongoing feud with the writer,Mary McCarthy (The Group) that started in 1980 until Hellman’s death in 1984 and her forthrightness. In fact, tomorrow is Mary McCarthy’s birthday! In the end, Lillian Hellman died alone and her last few years were filled with poor health and bitterness, but her earlier years were full of feistiness. Lillian Hellman was a Jewish-American writer from New Orleans who broke ground with her play about two female teachers who were accused of being gay by a student. I remember seeing The Children’s Hour with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine when I was about 10 years old.

I enjoyed her books, memoirs, plays and seeing her being interviewed on TV, she really spoke her mind and I encourage anyone who isn’t familiar with Lillian Hellman and others who were brought before HUAC to read about these writers, directors, screenwriters, actors, musicians, thinkers who stood strong and didn’t name names and whose careers and lives were hurt, broken beyond repair, interrupted and/or fractured. Read about The Hollywood Ten, which included Ring Lardner, Jr. and Dalton Trumbo (Johnny Got His Gun, which I must’ve read a couple of times as a teenager). Back to Lillian Hellman: “She became a writer at a time when writers were celebrities and their recklessness was admirable. Like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Hammett, Lillian Hellman was a smoker, a drinker, a lover, and a fighter. Hellman maintained a social and political life as large and restless as her talent. While her plays were a constant challenge to injustice, her memoirs were personal accounts of the exciting and turbulent life behind the art.”

Lillian Hellman was born today, June 20th, in 1905.