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April 25, 2005

Broadway and the Blacklist

A Panel Discussion About McCarthy-Era Blacklisting and Actors’ Equity’s Response

Monday, May 9, 2005 – 6:30 PM
Actors’ Equity Audition Center, 165 West 46th Street

Free and Open To The Public

In celebration of Labor History Month, the New York Labor History Association will present a free panel discussion, “Broadway and the Blacklist,” co-sponsored by Actors’ Equity Association and the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, NYU. The event takes place at Equity’s Audition Center, 165 West 46th Street (2nd floor) from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. “Broadway and the Blacklist” will focus on Actors’ Equity’s role and response to one of the darkest periods in American history: McCarthyism and the McCarthy-era blacklist.

In 1947, Congressional hearings were conducted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (commonly known as HUAC) to investigate communism in the motion picture industry. Accused of being sympathizers or Communist Party members, dozens of actors, directors, and writers who were not cooperative with the investigations found themselves unable to find work. By the 1950s, the pernicious and ugly practice of blacklisting had spread to radio and television in the fear-driven atmosphere of cold war politics.

“Being active in a Union made you a potential target. When first formed in Hollywood, union organizing was considered the work of communists. It can be difficult to look back and recognize that during the early 1950s, the major Hollywood unions buckled under the intense public pressure of these investigations,” noted K. Kevyne Baar, who is on the panel. “The exception was the union for actors and stage managers known as Actors’ Equity Association. In 1951, at the members’ behest, the Union took the bold and brave step of passing a resolution condemning the blacklist; the following year, anti-blacklist language was added to its contracts.”

Equity President Patrick Quinn will moderate the panel. Other participants include:

K. Kevyne Baar (archivist for the AEA Collection at NYU), will speak about the unions’ historic role during this period.

Peter Friedman (currently appearing in Twelve Angry Men), will introduce the audience to Philip Loeb, a former Equity Councillor and tragic victim of the Blacklist.

Madeline Lee Gilford (actor/producer, widow of blacklist victim Jack Gilford) will discuss her appearance before HUAC in August of 1955, when she joined 21 other members of the Broadway community in refusing to be intimidated by the Committee.

For further information, contact:
David Lotz, Communications Director
Maria Somma, Spokesperson
212-869-8530





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