An exhibit at Jewish Museum Milwaukee casts new light on a dark period in Hollywood history
The Hollywood blacklist period, roughly 1947 to 1960, was as tense and mysterious as the best noir thrillers of the day. No one knows for sure how many writers, directors, actors, musicians, journalists and film professionals — disproportionally of Jewish or immigrant backgrounds — lost their livelihoods during the Red Scare whipped up by Wisconsin’s own Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Beginning with the blacklisting of the so-called Hollywood Ten – writers and directors called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) to answer for Communist ties or supposedly subversive activity – the industry covertly banned scores of people from working because of their political leanings.
Jewish Museum Milwaukee is exploring the issue and its impact in a new exhibit, “Blacklist: The Hollywood Red Scare,” that includes lectures, biographical features on blacklisted performers, HUAC hearing footage, films declared “subversive” by the FBI and more.
“After three years in the making, Jewish Museum Milwaukee is looking forward to finally sharing this exhibit with the public,” says the museum’s education director, Ellie Gettinger.
On Nov. 1, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel will speak about High Noon, the classic Western that doubles as a morality play, and how its screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was blacklisted during its production. The museum will host other lectures, events and screenings during the exhibit, which runs through Feb. 10. For a full program list, visit jewishmuseummilwaukee.org/events.
Wisconsinites were haunted by the Blacklist