LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sixty-five years ago today - on Nov. 25, 1947 - the first formalized Hollywood Blacklist was published in The Hollywood Reporter with far-reaching consequences,
During Senator Joseph McCarthy red-baiting era, the list ruined the careers of many writers, actors and directors who were accused of having communists ties.
Now, the son of the famed industry trade newspaper’s founder, Billy Wilkerson, is apologizing for his father's and the paper's role in creating the list.
In an article published Monday by The Hollywood Reporter, Willie Wilkerson, 61, calls the Blacklist era "Hollywood's Holocaust" and says:
"On the eve of this dark 65th anniversary, I feel an apology is necessary...On behalf of my family, and particularly my late father, I wish to convey my sincerest apologies and deepest regrets to those who were victimized by this unfortunate incident," the younger Wilkerson says. Here’s a link to The Hollywood Reporter story.
He says his father supported the Blacklist to exact revenge against the Hollywood titans he felt denied him entry to their club when he wanted to establish a movie studio in the late 1920s.
Billy Wilkerson founded The Hollywood Reporter in 1930, and after World War II, used the paper as a vehicle for a series of editorials attacking communist sympathizers and their influence in Hollywood.
“In his maniacal quest to annihilate the studio owners, he realized that the most effective retaliation was to destroy their talent,’’ Willie Wilkerson writes. “In the wake of this emerging hysteria surrounding communism, the easiest way to crush the studio owners was to simply call their actors, writers and directors communists. Unfortunately, they would become the collateral damage of history. Apart from being charged with contempt, for refusing to name names, none of these individuals committed any crimes.”
Studios dominated the industry and denied work to those named on the Blacklist. Some writers worked under pseudonyms. Many actors and their families moved overseas to look for work. The Hollywood Reporter named names and ceaselessly covered the issue.
Among the best known impacted by the list: Actress Lee Grant and Marsha Hunt; writers Dalton Trumbo, Ring Lardner, Jr. and Lillian Hellman.
“Any man or woman who, under the guise of freedom of speech, or the cloak of the Bill of Rights, or under the pseudo protection of being a liberal, says things, causes things to be said, or who actually is involved with many of the conspiracies that have now infested this great land of ours, has no place among us, be he commie or what," Billy Wilkerson wrote on Nov. 5, 1947. "He or she should be rushed out of our business."
Willie Wilkerson says it's possible that his father would have apologized for "creating something that devastated so many careers" had he lived long enough. He died in 1962, two years after the Blacklist was broken.