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What Was The Hollywood Blacklist And How Did It Hurt The Film Industry?

Soon, even those who didn’t have direct ties to the Communist Party and agreed to testify in front of the HUAC became blacklisted from the industry. Of course, this atmosphere led others to gladly name names, resulting in their colleagues being blacklisted. Elia Kazan, Walt Disney, and the future United States President Ronald Reagan (he was an actor first, after all) testified before the HUAC and jeopardized others’ safety. Despite efforts by a group named the Committee for the First Amendment — which listed Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Frank Sinatra, Billy Wilder, and Judy Garland among its members — many careers were sidetracked and even ruined by the HUAC’s efforts to weed out Communism.

As quoted in Eric Bentley’s book “Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings Before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities 1938–1968,” actor Larry Parks agreed to testify, but spoke out against the injustices of the process. “Don’t present me with the choice of either being in contempt of this committee and going to jail or forcing me to really crawl through the mud to be an informer,” he reportedly said. “For what purpose? I don’t think it is a choice at all. I don’t think this is really sportsmanlike. I don’t think this is American. I don’t think this is American justice.”

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