A Catalyst in the Hollywood Blacklist

Friday, November 30, 2012


Billy Wilkerson (Image Courtesy Wilkerson Archives)

The Hollywood Reporter celebrated its 65th anniversary by publishing a feature story on its founder Billy Wilkerson's role in launching the Hollywood blacklists. Brooke talks to Hollywood Reporter senior writer Daniel Miller about the genesis of Wilkerson's anti-communist campaign and why The Hollywood Reporter published this article now.


Daniel Miller

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [2]


Trumbo wrote the classic novel "Johnny Got his Gun" which is so powerful that it alone is worth a thousand anti-war march tantrums through the decades.

It was published during the Hitler/Stalin pact when the Communist Party line was to oppose the war but in June, 1941 the Soviet Union was invaded and Marxists did an about face and were now demanding US entry into the war since the beloved Soviet Union was under threat.

Wasn't Trumbo's brilliant anti-war novel so effective that isolationists who still opposed the war were requesting copies of the book from Trumbo and the now pro-war author of "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" named names by turning his admirers over to the FBI?

Why are we supposed to revile Wilkerson but not Trumbo for reporting people because of their unpopular anti-war beliefs and ideology?

Why does the media constantly revisits the red baiting of the distant past but avoids a current analysis of the "progressive" race baiting, gender baiting and class baiting demagoguery used in the media today to smear, silence and intimidate political dissent?

We just experienced a crucially important Presidential election where these cynically pernicious tactics deliberately obscured economic facts, history and realities and determined the outcome of the election and the fiscal fate of the nation. The demagoguery continues to this very moment unabated and mostly unchallenged as the abuses of the McCarthy era are told and retold.
It is easy for the self-righteous today to judge the actions of those from 60 years ago through a narrow historical prism by omitting the actual "reign of terror" of Stalin and Mao from the discussion.
Doing so distracts from the unfair and damaging demagoguery that is taking place around them right now but they, like those six decades ago, choose not to acknowledge.

Dec. 03 2012 09:06 PM
Mark Richard from Columbus OH

Much ink and air time is spent obsessing about the Hollywood blacklist of decades ago. No perspective, though. In the 1940s, when the left-wingers were strong, they exercised such Party discipline as they could in Hollywood against anyone outside the New Deal/Popular Front consensus. But when the worm turned in the 1950s, they whined when similar tactics were used against them. Beyond that, these poor things were supporters of just about as foul a regime as has existed on earth. I'll save my sympathy for writers who got bullets in the backs of their heads for opposing Stalin, and don't have any left over for the stubborn and fanatical hacks of the Popular Front/McCarthy era.

Really, public radio and television depends on the credulousness of its core listenership on these matters, and cannot bring itselft to challenge bourgeois liberal orthodoxy. Write a piece critical of the blacklist, no matter how trite, and NPR and public radio will soon come knocking at your door. The reality was a lot more complicated.

Dec. 03 2012 12:47 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.