Storm Warning: Ronald Reagan, the FBI and HUAC (The Blacklist Episode #8) by Karina Longworth

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The post-war Communist witch hunt had a big impact on Ronald Reagan’s evolution from movie actor to politician, and from Democrat to Republican. And, Ronald Reagan had a major personal impact on the witch hunt’s manifestation in Hollywood, the Blacklist. This episode will trace the years in which Reagan was primarily known as a movie and TV star, and explore his two marriages to actresses, his testimony to HUAC, his behind-the-scenes work as an informer to the FBI, his late-career incarnation as bridge between Hollywood and corporate America, and more.

Kings Row:

And General Electric Theater

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Monsieur Verdoux: Charlie Chaplin's Road to Hollywood Exile (The Blacklist Episode #7) by Karina Longworth

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Picking up where last week’s episode left off, we’ll catch up with Chaplin’s post-The Great Dictator activism, talk about Chaplin’s savage satirical follow-up, Monsieur Verdoux, and explain the witch hunt that ended with him forced to leave his adopted home, and Hollywood career, behind.

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky

West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein

The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-60 by Larry Ceplair


Sources specific to this episode:

Chaplin's War Trilogy: An Evolving Lens in Three Dark Comedies, 1918-1947 by Wes D. Gehring

My Autobiography by Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin: A Brief Life by Peter Ackroyd

The Gordon File: A Screenwriter Recalls Twenty Years of FBI Surveillance by Bernard Gordon

When Chaplin Became The Enemy” by J. Hoberman, NY Times, June 8, 2008

Booting a Tramp: Charlie Chaplin, the FBI, and the Construction of the Subversive Image in Red Scare America” by John Sbardellati and Tony Shaw

Excerpts from Chaplin’s FBI file can be found on the FBI’s website.

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

Blacklist Flashback: Charlie Chaplin During World War II by Karina Longworth

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In 1922, Charlie Chaplin was one of the most beloved men in the world. In 1952, after over a decade of being publicly shamed, he was essentially manipulated into self-deportation. What happened in between? We’ll explain over two episodes, beginning with this flashback to an episode that originally ran in March 2015, detailing Chaplin’s politics, his fascination with Adolf Hitler, the making and release of The Great Dictator, and the sex scandal that gave J. Edgar Hoover an opening to persecute Chaplin.

This episode originally debuted in March 2015. The original show notes for the episode contains sources, soundtrack information and more.

He Ran All The Way: John Garfield (The Blacklist Episode #6) by Karina Longworth

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John Garfield was Brando before Brando -- a Method-style actor who repped the New York working class while becoming a major sex symbol in film noir and World War II films. Garfield was not a Communist; most of his friends -- and his wife -- were, but they mostly thought “Julie” was well meaning but not a serious political animal. HUAC disagreed, and in the early 1950s, Garfield became the biggest star to be blacklisted.

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

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."

The Strange Love of Barbara Stanwyck: Robert Taylor (The Blacklist Episode #5) by Karina Longworth

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Barbara Stanwyck’s first marriage helped to inspire A Star is Born. Her second marriage, to heartthrob Robert Taylor, didn’t make sense in a lot of ways, but the pair were united by their conservative politics. Both joined the blacklist-stoking Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, but only Taylor testified before HUAC. Called to shamed MGM for forcing him to star in wartime pro-Soviet film Song of Russia, Taylor would become the only major star to name names. Today we’ll talk about Taylor and Stanwyck’s relationship, and the difference between her groundbreaking career as the rare actress who refused to sign long term studio contracts, and his much more conventional experience as MGM chattel.

Show notes:

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky

West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein

The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community, 1930-60 by Larry Ceplair

Sources specific to this episode:

A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940 By Victoria Wilson

Reluctant Witness: Robert Taylor, Hollywood and Communism by Linda Alexander

Barbara Stanwyck: The Miracle Woman by Dan Callahan

Independent Stardom: Freelance Women in the Hollywood Studio System by Emily Carman

Robert Taylor Actor -- A very well-researched fan page

This episode includes a clip from Red Salute, which you can watch in its entirety on YouTube. You can also watch Taylor’s controversial film Song of Russia, which is not available on DVD, here.

Other clips used:

Robert Taylor’s testimony about Howard Da Silva: 

The “back to Russia” testimony: 

Special thanks this week to Brian Clark and Noah Segan for their help in tracking down research materials.

This episode was edited by Sam Dingman, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks.

The African Queen: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and John Huston (The Blacklist Episode #4) by Karina Longworth

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In the late 1940s, as the country was moving to the right and there was pressure on Hollywood to do the same, Katharine Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and John Huston all protested HUAC in ways that damaged their public personas and their ability to work in Hollywood. Hepburn’s outspokenness resulted in headlines branding her a "Red" and, allegedly, audiences stoning her films. Bogart and Huston were prominent members of the Committee For the First Amendment, a group of Hollywood stars who came to Washington to support the Hollywood Ten -- and lived to regret it. With their career futures uncertain, the trio collaborated on the most difficult film any of them would ever make, The African Queen.

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Show notes:

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky

Sources specific to this episode:

West of Eden by Jean Stein

By Myself and Then Some by Lauren Bacall

Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart by Stefan Kanfer

Kate: The Woman who was Hepburn by William J. Mann

Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn

An Open Book by John Huston

John Huston: Courage and Art by Jeffrey Meyers

As Bogart Sees it Now” Milwaukee Journal, December 3, 1947

I’m No Communist” by Humphrey Bogart, Photoplay, May 1948

Special thanks to our special guest, Rian Johnson, who reprised his recurring role as John Huston.

This episode included excerpts from the following videos:

Episode 1 of Hollywood Fights Back:

Bogart on Episode 2 of Hollywood Fights Back:

Katharine Hepburn’s speech at the May 1947 Henry Wallace rally:

Humphrey Bogart’s Oscar acceptance speech:

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz. Our logo was designed by Teddy Blanks

Blacklist Flashback: Bogey Before Bacall by Karina Longworth

Download this episodefind on SoundCloud or iTunes.

Humphrey Bogart was Warner Brothers' most valuable star in 1947, when he, his wife Lauren Bacall, his future African Queen co-star Katharine Hepburn, his friend and frequent director John Huston and many other stars actively protested HUAC. We'll get into that next week. This week, we're flashing back to our episode on Bogart from 2014, describing how the Casablanca star struggled to find his niche in Hollywood during the first part of his film career, the tough guy roles that changed things around, and finally his transformative romance with Lauren Bacall. 

This episode originally debuted in September 2014. The original show notes for the episode contains sources, soundtrack information and more. 

We’ve also previously discussed the careers of Katharine Hepburn and John Huston. In our 11th episode, from way back in July 2014, we talked about Katharine Hepburn’s rise and fall and rise again in the 1930s, and her relationship with Howard Hughes. Listen to that episode if you want to get a sense of how Hepburn was perceived as a star going into the Blacklist era, and for details as to what was going on in her personal life during the events that we’re going o talk about next week, check out episode number 64, which deals with Hepburn’s relationship with Spencer Tracy and their work together on such films as Woman of the Year. Finally, John Huston pops up here and there throughout our archive, but most prominently in episode number 35, which dealt with Huston’s service in World War II, and his relationship with actress Olivia de Havilland.

Dorothy Parker (The Blacklist Episode #3) by Karina Longworth

Columnist, poet and celebrated Algonquin Roundtable wit Dorothy Parker spent years in Hollywood, working as a screenwriter in partnership with her second husband, Alan Campbell, and contributing to important films such as the original A Star is Born and Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur. Much to the surprise of many of her closest friends, beginning in the late 1920s Parker became increasingly drawn to socialist causes. Parker’s political calling was merely socially problematic before World War II, when Parker spearheaded the formation of the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League; after the war, when Parker’s name was named before HUAC, her political convictions killed her Hollywood career at its peak.

Algonquin Round Table

Show notes:

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky

Sources specific to this episode:

Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? by Marion Meade

The Portable Dorothy Parker

Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick by David Thomson

“Dorothy Parker: Hemingway Really Hated Her!” by Jennifer Wright on The Gloss

This episode includes clips from A Star is Born (1937) and Saboteur, both of which are currently viewable in their entirely on YouTube:

The scene excerpted from Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is also on YouTube (the whole movie is rentable from iTunes):

Parker’s poem “Women: A Hate Song” was read by Carol Monda:

Crossfire: The Trials of the Hollywood Ten (The Blacklist Episode #2) by Karina Longworth

Hollywood10.jpg
"Hollywood10". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Download this episode, or find on iTunes.

In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee subpoenaed dozens of Hollywood workers to come to Washington and testify to the presence of Communists in the film industry. 19 of those who were subpoenaed announced that they wouldn't co-operate with the Committee; of those 19, 10 "unfriendly" witnesses were called to the stand and refused to answer "The $64 Question": "Are you now or have you ever been a Communist?" Those 10 men were subsequently denied employment, and imprisoned; afraid of collateral damage to the industry, the studio moguls were thus moved to design the Blacklist. This episode will explore the work and politics of the Hollywood Ten -- and films on which they came together, such as Crossfire -- and delve into the far-reaching consequences of their false assumption that the Constitution would protect them.

Show notes:

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky

Sources specific to this episode:

“Bertolt Brecht Testifies Before The House Un-American Activities Committee,” Open Culture

“Reagan Played Informant For FBI in ‘40s” by Scott Herhold, Knight-Ridder Newspapers/Chicago Tribune

This episode includes excerpts from the following YouTube clips:

Crossfire Trailer:

 

Louis B. Mayer testifies against communism: 

John Howard Lawson’s testimony: 

 

Dalton Trumbo’s testimony (itself featured in an excerpt from an unidentified documentary): 

Bertolt Brecht’s testimony: 

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

The Blacklist Glossary by Karina Longworth

Our new season, The Blacklist, will cover events spanning four decades, featuring dozens of significant characters, institutions and acronyms. Here's a handy guide to some of the names and terms that are important to know while you listen. If you have suggestions for other terms that should be added to this Glossary, please tell us on Twitter.


Below-the-line: Term used to refer to any crew members on a film set other than the director, producers, writers and actors. On a standard film budget sheet, those creative personnel are listed at the top; then a line is drawn, and the rest of the crew members and their salaries are listed below the line. More info at Wikipedia

Herb Sorrell: Hollywood union organizer and leader. In the wake of the IATSE scandal, a new union of studio workers was formed, called the Conference of Studio Unions, lead by Herb Sorrell. The CSU set itself up as the clean alternative to the IATSE; it was also the openly leftist alternative, and charges that it was controlled by communists were given credence in 1945, when four factions of the CSU refused to support a set decorators strike, in keeping with the Communist Party's wartime no-strike pledge.

"HUAC": HUAC is the colloquial term used as shorthand to refer to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which is itself popularly often referred to as the House Un-American Activities Committee (hence, HUAC). HUAC was established in 1938 under Martin Dies as chairman, and famously conducted investigations through the 1940s and ’50s into alleged communist activities. More info at Brittanica.com

IATSE: The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, or I.A.T.S.E., is a labor union representing technicians, artisans and craftspersons in the entertainment industry, including live theatre, motion picture and television production, and trade shows. During the early 20th century, organized crime gained influence over parts of IATSE leading to corruption and scandal. More info at Wikipedia

Iron Curtain: Term used to describe the political, military, and ideological barrier erected by the Soviet Union after World War II to seal off itself and its dependent eastern and central European allies from open contact with the West and other noncommunist areas. More info at Brittanica.com

Popular Front: Term used to describe any coalition of working-class and middle-class parties united for the defense of democratic forms against a presumed Fascist assault. In the mid-1930s European Communist concern over the gains of Fascism, combined with a Soviet policy shift, led Communist parties to join with Socialist, liberal, and moderate parties in popular fronts against Fascist conquest. More info at Brittanica.com 

Premature antifascism: The term invented after World War II to apply (and accuse) anyone who had been concerned about Hitler before the US got into the war. The concept was based on the slightly revisionist idea that only Jews and Communists cared about Fascism before Pearl Harbor happened and put America on the defensive.

Screen Readers Guild: Guild formed by the studio employees hired to read and analyze the production prospects of submitted screenplays. Bernard Gordon, a registered Communist who developed a career during the Blacklist as a writer and producer, was the Guild's president during the 1940s. 

Stalinism: Refers to the means of governing and related policies implemented by Joseph Stalin. Stalinist policies in the Soviet Union included: state terror, rapid industrialization, the theory of socialism in one country, a centralized state, collectivization of agriculture, cult of personality, and subordination of interests of foreign communist parties to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union—deemed by Stalinism to be the most forefront vanguard party of communist revolution at the time. More info at Wikipedia

 

 

Tender Comrades: The Prehistory of the Blacklist (The Blacklist Episode #1) by Karina Longworth

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Welcome to our new series: The Blacklist. This first episode will trace the roots of both communism and anti-communism in Hollywood, through the Depression, union struggles and scandals, and World War II. The major characters of the series will be introduced, including members of the Hollywood Ten like Dalton Trumbo and Edward Dmytryk, two Party members who collaborated on a film called Tender Comrade, which starred one of Hollywood's proudest Conservatives, Ginger Rogers. Tender Comrade epitomizes the political evolution that made the Blacklist happen: considered patriotic American propaganda during the War, the film was recast as problematically anti-capitalist after the war, and its makers branded with the epithet "prematurely anti-fascist."

Show notes:

This season deals with a complicated, controversial and still contested period in American history. My goal is to present the fairest picture of events that I can, based on my understanding of what I've read. I've been working on the research for this series for several months already, but even in that time, I could only make a dent in the enormous amount of words written about these events, from many different perspectives. As the series continues, I'm going to try to tell many people's stories, and I hope to be able to provide what feels like a full picture of what it felt like to be alive while this was happening, to play a part in it and have one's life changed by it. I try very hard to get the facts right. But, I can't include everything, and I will probably inevitably have to omit, exclude or overlook some details. And, I will probably offer prospectives that some people won't like. If you'd like to start a discussion about anything in any episode of this show, that's what our Forum is for. 

The research for this season grew out of archival work that I've been doing for a book that I'm writing on Howard Hughes. Hughes made blacklisting a major feature of his tenure as the owner of RKO, and he did so more proudly (and obsessively, and arguably recklessly), than most other men who controlled studios at the time. I visited the Writers Guild of America West to read previously unpublished files about Hughes' challenge to the Guild's right to arbitrate screen credits, and I ended up spending a lot of time looking at the research done on the Blacklist by Howard Suber for his 1968 UCLA PhD thesis, The Anti-Communist Blacklist in the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. Special thanks to Hilary Swett at the Writers Guild of America West's Library, who pointed me towards a box of documents relating to Suber's work, and to Suber himself, who gave me permission to use these documents. 

Here is a list of published sources that the entire season draws from:

The Red and the Blacklist: An Intimate Memoir of a Hollywood Expatriate by Norma Barzman

Dalton Trumbo: Blacklisted Hollywood Radical by Larry Ceplair and Christopher Trumbo 

Trumbo: A biography of the Oscar-winning screenwriter who broke the Hollywood blacklist by Bruce Cook

When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics by Donald T. Critchlow

Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten by Edward Dmytryk

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

Hollywood Radical, Or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon

I Said Yes to Everything by Lee Grant

Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War by J. Hoberman

Naming Names by Victor S. Navasky
 

Sources specific to this episode:

Ginger: My Story by Ginger Rogers

“Die, But Do Not Retreat” Time Man of the Year 1942 Cover story. Accessible here, but only via subscription

Stalin’s speech of February 9, 1946

Through Suber’s thesis, I was alerted to the existence of The Girl From Hollywood, a novella Dalton Trumbo wrote under the name Robert Rich (the same pseudonym under which he wrote the Oscar-winning script for The Brave One) which satirizes Hollywood via a writer’s relationship with an actress named “Susannah Richards,” who seems to be modeled on Ginger Rogers. There’s a draft of this piece in the Dalton Trumbo Papers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; special thanks to Amy Sloper and Mary Huelsbeck for helping me to access it remotely. I didn’t have space to include my thoughts on The Girl in this episode (I may write about it elsewhere, or include those thoughts in a future episode), but it informed how I thought about Trumbo and his blacklist-era attitude toward Hollywood, the purpose of writing and the fantasy world occupied by huge stars (although the story is ultimately very kind to the Rogers-esque character).

This episode includes an audio clip from Tender Comrade, which pops up on TCM every now and then, but is otherwise very difficult to find. There doesn’t seem to be an in-print version in English on DVD; the version Amazon sells is dubbed in Spanish (I found this out the hard way). You can, however, rent it on VHS or DVD at Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee.

 

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky, and produced by Karina Longworth with the assistance of Lindsey D. Schoenholtz.

MGM Stories Part Fifteen: The End of Louis B. Mayer by Karina Longworth

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In the 1940s, Louis B. Mayer was the highest paid man in America, one of the first celebrity CEOs and the figurehead of what for most Americans was the most glamorous industry on Earth. In 1951, Mayer was fired from the studio that bore his name. What happened -- to Mayer, and to movies on the whole -- to hasten the end of the golden era of Hollywood?

Find this episode on iTunes

Special thanks to Craig Mazin, who throughout this series played Louis B. Mayer. Mazin will return in a supporting role as Mayer next season, which begins in late January. Thanks also to all of our special guests this season, including Wil Wheaton, Dana Carvey, Steve Zissis, Kelly Marcel, Adam Goldberg, Rian Johnson and Noah Segan. 

And extra super special thanks to Teddy Blanks, who created our new iTunes logo, and Henry Molofsky, who edited this episode and every episode this season.  

We will be on hiatus for the next four weeks. Happy holidays, happy New Year, and we'll speak to you in late January!

Sources:

Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman

Picture by Lillian Ross

The Genius of the System by Thomas Schatz

MGM Stories Part Fourteen: Elizabeth Taylor from Michael Wilding to Eddie Fisher by Karina Longworth

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Elizabeth Taylor grew up on the MGM lot, spending 18 years as what she referred to as “MGM chattel.” The last four years of that 18 year sentence were arguably the most interesting. From 1956-1960, she made a run of really interesting films including Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Butterfield 8, and she met the “love of her life”, Mike Todd, and turned him into her third husband. When Todd died a year later Liz sought comfort in the arms of Todd’s friend - and Debbie Reynolds’ husband — Eddie Fisher. Taylor capped off the decade by almost dying, winning her first Oscar, and breaking free from MGM to become the highest paid actress up to that time.

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky.

MGM Stories Part Thirteen: Gloria Grahame by Karina Longworth

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Gloria Grahame arrived in Hollywood in 1944, after Louis B. Mayer personally plucked her from the New York stage, and changed her name. But Grahame was the rare actress who Mayer didn’t know how to turn into a star. Finally in 1947, Mayer gave up on Grahame and sold her contract to RKO, where she flourished as a femme fatale in film noir. Grahame's career would be marred by her compulsive plastic surgery, her increasingly eccentric on-set behavior, and gossip about her love life, which included marriages to both director Nicholas Ray, and his son, Tony. 

Sources:

Suicide Blonde: The Life of Gloria Grahame by Vincent Curcio

Nicholas Ray: The Glorious Failure of an American Director by Patrick McGilligan

Grahame on the cover of LIFE Magazine

"Gloria Grahame: In praise of the naughty mind" by Donald Chase, Film Comment

"Fatal Instincts: The dangerous pout of Gloria Grahame" by Dan Callahan, Bright Lights Film Journal

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky and included a cameo by Noah Segan.

MGM Stories Part Twelve: Lana Turner by Karina Longworth

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Lana Turner, the legendary "Sweater Girl" was one of MGM’s prized contract players, the epitome of the mid-century sex goddess on-screen and an unlucky-in-love single mom off-screen who would burn through seven husbands and countless affairs. After nearly twenty years as a star not known for her acting prowess, Turner's career suddenly got interesting in the late 1950s, when the hits The Bad and the Beautiful, Peyton Place and Imitation of Life sparked a reappraisal of her talents. In the middle of this renaissance, Turner became embroiled in one of Hollywood history’s most shocking scandals: the murder of Turner’s boyfriend Johnny Stompanato at the hand of her 14 year-old daughter, Cheryl Crane.

Sources: 

The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger

Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth by Lana Turner

Detour: A Hollywood Story by Cheryl Crane with Cliff Jahr

Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman

The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties by Sam Kashner and Jennifer Macnair

MGM Stories Part Eleven: David O. Selznick, Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker by Karina Longworth

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In 1941, David O. Selznick signed a young actress named Phylis, who was then married to actor Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train). Selznick renamed Phylis “Jennifer Jones,” and set to work turning her into a star, helping her to earn an Oscar for her first film under her new name. Selznick and Jones also began an affair, and Selznick’s romantic and professional obsession with Jones would result in the destruction of both of their marriages, as well as the creation of at least two movies transparently about Selznick’s passion for his star actress. But in a tragic echo of Selznick’s own film A Star is Born, as he threw his weight behind turning Jones into a star, Selznick himself lost his footing in Hollywood.

Special thanks to special guests Adam Goldberg (who reprised his role as David O. Selznick), Craig Mazin (who reprised his role as Louis B. Mayer), and Rian Johnson (who reprised his role as John Huston).

Sources: 

David Thomson, Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick

Paul Green, Jennifer Jones: The Life and Films

Robert Walker official fan site

Walker's New York Times obituary

MGM Stories Part Ten: David O. Selznick, The Mayers & Gone With the Wind by Karina Longworth

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In 1930, after putting in time at MGM and RKO, Paramount executive David O. Selznick married Irene Mayer, the daughter of L.B. Mayer. Irene’s father would soon thereafter bring Selznick to MGM to fill in for an ailing Irving Thalberg, but MGM, in all its grandeur, was too small for Selznick’s dreams. He started his own independent studio, through which he created the original A Star is Born, the only Hitchcock movie to win Best Picture, and the biggest hit in the history of Hollywood, Gone with the Wind. Starring Adam Goldberg as David O. Selznick, and Craig Mazin as Louis B. Mayer.

Sources:

This episode was inspired by a post on our forum requesting the story of the love triangle between Selznick, actor Robert Walker and his wife, the future Jennifer Jones. As part of my research, I went to the BFI Library to read David Thomson's out-of-printShowman: The Life of David O. Selznick, and I became so engrossed that when the library closed I ended up ordering a used copy and carrying it with me on a trip from London to Los Angeles and back -- a commitment, because at 820 pages, even the paperback is heavy and hard to wedge into a carry-on. It was totally worth it. Thomson is a lot like his subject, in that neither is known for their ruthless ability to self-edit, but both put their passion out there in a way that I find fascinating. Thomson really made me feel the grand arc of Selznick's life and career, and after finishing his book, I realized I couldn't just tell the Jennifer Jones story -- I had to at least summarize at length the 30-something years of Selznick's life before he met his second wife. This is preamble became long enough to be it's own episode, so we'll get to Jennifer Jones next week. I guess I'm not great at self-editing, either.

Other sources:

Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman

A Private View by Irene Mayer Selznick

City of Nets by Otto Friedrich

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky. Our research intern is Allie Gemmill. 

MGM Stories Part Nine: Spencer Tracy by Karina Longworth

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When Spencer Tracy signed with MGM, he was a character actor better known for his problem drinking (and very public extramarital affair with Loretta Young) than for his movie hits. But the studio made him a star, and by the time Katharine Hepburn was looking for a male star who could play a prototypical American male opposite her very idiosyncratic persona, Tracy was the obvious choice. Tracy and Hepburn became one of the most legendary Hollywood couples of the century, on-screen and off, and their partnership helped to canonize both as important stars. But their personal relationship was complicated by his drinking and his relationships with other women -- including his wife.

Sources: 

The "most recent biographies" of Tracy and Hepburn mentioned in this episode are William J. Mann's Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn and James Curtis' Spencer Tracy: A Biography. The latter disputes the former, at least where the sex lives of its subjects are concerned. I'm honestly not sure what to believe about Tracy and particularly Hepburn's sex life, and I'm honestly not sure it really matters; what's more interesting to me is the ways in which stories/rumors/ideas about famous people circulate in the culture and become a part of their history, whether they're true or not. 

Other sources: Tracy and Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir by Garson Kanin; Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman; and City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s by Otto Friedrich.

This episode was edited by Henry Molofsky. Our research intern is Allie Gemmill. 

Special thanks to our special guests: Steve Zissis played Spencer Tracy; Kelly Marcel played Katharine Hepburn; and Craig Mazin returned as Louis B. Mayer. 

This episode is sponsored by Audible.com Go to Audible.com/remember for a free audiobook and a 30-day trial.

This episode is also sponsored by Squarespace. Start your website with no credit card required by going to Squarespace.com and using the offer code REMEMEBER. 

MGM Stories Part Eight: Eddie Mannix by Karina Longworth

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In the new Hollywood satire from the Coen Brothers, Josh Brolin plays a studio "fixer" named Eddie Mannix. The real Eddie Mannix was a New Jersey-born reputed gangster who rose through the ranks at MGM to become the studio's general manager. His position required ensuring that the darker, more scandalous actions of MGM’s biggest names were kept hidden from the public and press at large. While devoting his career to protecting the personal lives of MGM’s employees, Mannix had his own colorful personal life: a chronic adulterer with a history of domestic violence, he married his mistress Toni, who went on to have a Mannix-endorsed affair with Superman star George Reeves, whose death under mysterious circumstances further complicated Mannix's legacy.

Sources:

There is a book on Eddie Mannix; it's called The Fixers: Eddie Mannix, Howard Strickling and the MGM Publicity Machine. It includes quite a lot of conjecture and speculation, so I tried to only include in the episode information that could be found in at least one other source. In attempting to confirm details, I came upon archival articles which complicate matters by mixing apparent truth with clear inaccuracies or spin, such as this one about Mary Nolan's lawsuit against Mannix in which he is referred to as a "Hollywood director." In the episode, I did the best I could to sort out the most likely versions of the truth. 

Other sources:

Mary Nolan: Tragic Star by Eve Golden

David Stenn's original Vanity Fair article on Patricia Douglas (sadly not on Vanity Fair's actual site)

Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer by Scott Eyman

Hollywood Kryptonite: The Bulldog, The Lady and the Death of Superman by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger