24 November 1947
"Hollywood Ten" Cited for Contempt of Congress
In October 1947 a list of figures associated with the motion picture industry were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. These individuals—mostly screenwriters, actors, and directors—were expected to answer questions about the presence of communists in Hollywood. Some, like director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg, considered it their patriotic duty to identify those whom they knew to be communists. Others were not so cooperative. In particular, ten of those subpoenaed refused to answer questions about whether they belonged to the Communist Party. In some cases they acted with open disdain for the committee, and tried to disrupt its proceedings with long political harangues.

Outraged by this behavior, HUAC members appealed to Congress, and on November 24 the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to cite these witnesses—who were now being referred to as the “Hollywood Ten”—for contempt of Congress. In response, a group of executives representing the major movie studios issued a statement in which they promised not to hire any of the ten until they were acquitted and were willing to swear that they were not communists. This “blacklist” prevented them from working in Hollywood for many years, although some continued to do so under assumed names.

Links:
- “They Want to Muzzle Public Opinion”: John Howard Lawson’s Warning to the American Public

- "The World Was at Stake": Three "Friendly" HUAC Hollywood Witnesses Assess Pro-Soviet Wartime Films

- "A Damaging Impression of Hollywood Has Spread": Movie "Czar" Eric Johnston Testifies before HUAC