1947 Hollywood Blacklist Begins


House UnAmerian Committee holding hearings

The House Un-American Committee decided in 1947 to investigate the influence of communist on Hollywood. After nine days of hearings, ten people were convicted of contempt of Congress and subsequently blacklisted from working in Hollywood.

In 1938 the House Committee on Un-American Activities was established. Its mission was to investigate acts of disloyalty or subversive activities by American citizens who were suspected of having either fascist or communist ties. The committee seemed to concentrate on Communist ties, however. In 1938 it investigated Hallie Flanagan who was head of the Federal Theater projects, the committees claimed that communists overran the project.

During the war the committee investigated whether the government was being strict enough with the interned Japanese, claiming that they presented a genuine risk to the US. In 1946 the committee gave brief consideration into investigating the Ku Klux Klan but decided instead to investigate the Communist party.

In 1947 the committee held nine days of hearing to look into the impact of communist propaganda in Hollywood. Ten members of community refused to answer the questions fully and were convicted of contempt of Congress. They were put on what became known as a blacklist- a list of people who would not be hired in Hollywood. Altogether 300 actors, artists, producers and screenwriters ended up on the blacklist. Some of the most famous like Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles left the US to work overseas, and others worked under false names. Only a small number ever fully recovered their careers.