Sixty-four years ago today, Hollywood screenwriter John Howard Lawson testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). In May of 1947, HUAC held a series of closed-door hearings to investigate communist influence in Hollywood. A number of famous Hollywood screenwriters, directors, and producers were subpoenaed to Washington in September. Only eleven were asked to appear before the committee in October. Ten of the eleven were card-holding members of the communist party at one point in their careers. Lawson was the first of the infamous Hollywood Ten to testify. The group refused to answer questions relating to their political beliefs, citing their First Amendment rights. All of the men were eventually convicted of contempt of Congress, and blacklisted in Hollywood.
Today’s featured document was created almost a year after the Hollywood Ten investigation began. It shows that the committee was still monitoring the motion picture industry, and signifies that they believed that communist beliefs continued to infiltrate the industry. It also suggests that the Hollywood Ten investigation did not prevent the creation of “un-American” movies. Thus, HUAC continued to investigate communist techniques in Hollywood through 1952. The anti-communist movement in Congress reached its peak in 1954, but HUAC lived on. The committee changed its name in 1969 to the House Committee on Internal Security, and was eventually abolished in 1975.
Communist Techniques in Hollywood, 9/21/1948, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives