Comments and Corrections, March 8, 2016 / by Karina Longworth

Sometimes we get emails with comments and corrections that we think our listeners should be aware of. Here are a couple in reference to the first few episodes of our Blacklist series. 

 In reference to episode 3, Dorothy Parker, Ron Radosh writes:

"I am a historian and author or co-author of 17 books, including the one I wrote with my wife Allis Radosh, Red Star Over Hollywood, which is about the Communists in Hollywood and the blacklist.

For that, we spent an entire day and in addition had many phone conversations with the late Budd Schulberg. We taped the day long interview, held in his home way out in Long Island.

Budd told us, and emphasized that he had never made this public or told anyone before, but he wanted everything previously hidden or not known to finally come out.

What he told us is that he personally recruited Dorothy Parker to the Communist Party, and it was decided for various reasons that she, like many others, would remain a secret member who simply appeared as a fellow-traveler or someone who had a friendly attitude towards Communist positions. He also said he was assigned the task, since he recruited her, to meet with her each week to collect her Party dues.

Budd was a serious, honest man, who to the last days of his life, considered himself both anti-Communist and anti-fascist. He went ballistic when Ann Coulter praised Joe McCarthy and asked me how to get in touch with her so he could let her know how little he thought of her.

So for what it's worth, my wife and I both believe Budd was telling us the truth. He was not the kind of person to make up things and tell false stories."

 In reference to episode 2, The Hollywood Ten, Bob Shayne writes:

 "You got one important matter wrong. The Ten refused to answer citing the First Amendment, not the Fifth Amendment. If they had taken the Fifth, they would not and could not have been indicted, as the Fifth is what prevents anyone from being forced to testify against themselves in case of criminal activity. But the feeling among the Ten (or 19 originally) and their lawyers was that they had done nothing criminal and hence should not hide behind the Fifth. Further, if the First protects free speech, then it must protect the freedom not to speak. If must convey the right to privacy. That’s the theory with which they invoked the First.

It was that theory that the Supreme Court ruled against when they ruled against the Ten. Two liberal justices who were expected to rule in the Ten’s favor on that theory had died before the case got to the Court, as you stated."

This error was made in the portion of the episode toward its end, describing the downfall of J. Parnell Thomas, the ringleader of HUAC during the 1947 hearings:

 A few months later, Thomas himself was brought before a grand jury to answer to charges of corruption; there were accusations that he had sold government jobs to relatives, and that he had also put the names of non-existent people on federal payrolls so that he could embezzle their salaries. Thomas, who had ensured that the Hollywood Ten would be cited for contempt of congress for invoking their Fifth Amendment right to avoid incriminating themselves, took the stand in his grand jury trial and plead the Fifth. He was convicted of misuse of government funds, and sent to the same federal prison where Lester Cole and Ring Lardner Jr were serving their sentences. In 1951, in consultation with the American Legion, the collected studios agreed to add a provision to the blacklist guidelines set forth in the Waldorf Declaration: now they would deny employment to anyone who hid behind the Fifth Ammendment.

I regret all errors, of course, but at least I can sort of explain why this one happened. I confused the first and fifth amendments in part due to my personal dyslexia over numbers, and in part because both were used by HUAC witnesses at different times. To quote from Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky:

From that day [in 1951] forward those called to testify were advised by their attorneys that they had three choices: to invoke the First Amendment, with its guarantee of free speech and association, and risk going to prison for contempt of Congress like the Hollywood Ten; to invoke the Fifth Amendment, with its privilege against self-incrimination, and lose their jobs (Howard Da Silva and Gale Sondergaard, who followed Parks onto the stand that day, refused to answer the Committee, citing the Fifth Amendment, and were quickly excused and quickly blacklisted); or to cooperate with the Committee and name names and hope to continue working (as Sterling Hayden did, the first witness after Larry Parks to name names). The ground rules for the decade were set. 

We appreciate the correction and will clarify this issue in a future episode.  

 In reference to episode 5, Barbara Stanwyck, Kenton Bymaster writes via Facebook: 

"I just listened to this latest podcast, and you said that Karen Morley was married to King Vidor, but she was actually married to the director Charles Vidor."