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09 June 2012

Hepburn and the Anti-HUAC Brigade

Hollywood A-Listers, heading by Humphrey Bogart and his  wife Lauren Bacall
head to Washington to protest the HUAC Hollywood report.
On 8 June, 1949, the House Un-American Activities Committee published a report labeling more than 300 film industry individuals Communists. Aurora of The Cinementals writes about it in her recent post.

Although Hepburn always claimed that she wasn’t political, she did tend to follow her parents’ liberal example. Very early on in the McCarthy era, Hepburn took a stand against the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). At a mass rally at Gilmore Stadium in May 1947 featured Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace, Hepburn, clad in a stunning red dress, delivered a speech written by screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in which she declared "Silence the artist, and you silence the most articulate voice the people have. Destroy culture and you destroy one of the strongest sources of inspiration from which a people can draw strength to fight for a better life" (Mann, 345).

John Huston, then vice president of the Directors Guild, met with director William Wyler and screenwriter Philip Dunne to create a group called the Committee for the First Amendment. CFA organized Hollywood's liberals and left to resist HUAC, and lyricist Ira Gershwin hosted a star-studded anti-witch-hunt party that included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson, Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, Burt Lancaster, Danny Kaye, Billy Wilder and others. Their position was that the impending inquisition had nothing to do with communism per se but was about civil liberties, especially free speech. Some 500 people signed an anti-HUAC petition.

The woman whose mother threw a party to celebrate
the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917


  1. Was there ever a worse witch-hunter than McCarthy? He didn't hang witches, he tried to destroy them with vicious innuendo!

  2. Love the red dress bit - New England blue blood all the way...

  3. I have been listening to the Podcast You Must Remember This. Narrated by Karina Longworth. She is doing a series on the Back List. She played part of the speech she gave. Is there audio of it.


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