Seventy-five years ago, the Hollywood blacklist ruined lives, stifled creativity, and sent waves of proscription and censorship throughout United States culture. When the Hollywood Ten refused to answer the questions of the House Committee on Un-American Activities about their membership in the Communist Party, they were sentenced to prison, the five who were under contract were fired by their studios, and all were blacklisted from reemployment until they "purged themselves of their communist taint." By the 1950s, this blacklist publicly stigmatized nearly three hundred other Americans in the entertainment industry who invoked the First and Fifth Amendments in their refusal to apologize for their Communist ties or provide the names of other members. Dozens of others were graylisted as the result of rumors. In The Hollywood Motion Picture Blacklist: Seventy-Five Years Later (University Press of Kentucky, 2022), Larry Ceplair offers new insights on the origins of the blacklist, the characteristics of those blacklisted, and the probability of future proscriptions of the blacklist type.
Larry Ceplair is professor emeritus of history at Santa Monica College, California.
Schneur Zalman Newfield is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, and the author of Degrees of Separation: Identity Formation While Leaving Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Temple University Press, 2020).