History is made up of many events, all of which have affected
the world in many ways. During the late 1940's and early 1950's, there were investigations occurring throughout Hollywood.
These were due to the beliefs that there were communists in the U.S., who were attempting to overthrow the government. This
period in time became known as McCarthyism, after the U.S. senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthyism was a rough time for many
people, mainly those involved with Hollywood films, due to the scrutiny they faced from the government.
began in 1947, however, it predominantly existed from 1950 to 1954. It was an extensive "paranoid hunt for infiltrators,"
that affected the lives of many Hollywood stars (McCarthyism). It basically started from the fears of communism growing in
Eastern Europe and China. In 1938, the House Un-American Activities Committee(HUAC) was formed for the purpose of investigating
people suspected of unpatriotic behavior and attempting to overthrow the government. It was believed that communists were
placing subversive messages in the Hollywood films they were creating, and also placing negative images of the U.S. in films
that would be seen around the world. The HUAC interviewed 41 people working in Hollywood films, who became known as the "friendly
witnesses," naming "nineteen people accused of holding left-wing views" (Fried). Ten of these people refused to answer any
questions and became known as the Hollywood Ten. They were all tried and were found guilty, being sentenced to between
six and twelve months in jail. As time went on, more and more names were ousted, and those that refused to give up more names
were placed on a blacklist. There were over 320 people on this list. The reason that this period became known as McCarthyism
is because of the United States senator Joseph McCarthy. He essentially led the investigations, stating that, "two-hundred
card carrying communists had infiltrated the United States government" who had to be caught (McCarthyism). His accusations
heightened the anxiety, taking the entire investigation of communists to a new level.
McCarthyism was relatively successful,
in that the government and the HUAV achieved the purpose of their investigations. The HUAC had witnesses, people
who confessed to working and being a communist or part of a left-wing party, and they had people who were giving up more names
of other people involved along with them. The HUAC found the 41 witnesses who gave the names of nineteen people accused of
being a communist and having left-wing views. From that nineteen, ten were found guilty and were sent to jail. The HUAC then
found more and more people involved, who were all placed on a blacklist if they did not give up any other names of people.
McCarthyism destroyed the lives of everyone it found to be guilty or even anyone just placed on the blacklist, "no more than
10 percent would be able to return to careers in Hollywood" (Georgakas). Many people that were blacklisted lost their spouses
and others suffered a lot of financial loss. Some of the blacklisted moved to Europe or Mexico to find better work, which
they could no longer find in Hollywood. However, in the end, Joseph McCarthy's accusations were based off of inconclusive
and questionable evidence, and were proven un-true.
During the time of the investigations, many were persecuted. These
people included the Hollywood Ten, who consisted of Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz,
Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, and Alvah Bessie (Ryskind, 11). Others included people
involved in the Hollywood filmmaking business, such as screenwriters, actors, and technical workers. What happened to these
people was that they were either sent to jail, in the Hollywood Ten's case, or they were placed on the blacklist, which was
what happened to the majority of the people. The HUAC and the government created the blacklists and sentenced the Hollywood
Ten to jail. They did this because they believed they were involved with communists or left-wing parties, and feared that
they might attempt to overthrow the government, so they had to come up with a solution to stop them. Ultimately, the HUAC
and the government persecuted innocent people for the sake of their own jobs.
As one can tell, McCarthyism affected
the lives of many people involved in the Hollywood filmmaking business, due to the un-true accusations that Joseph McCarthy blamed
them of. It was a great "witch hunt", which was intended to catch anyone suspected of being involved with communists or other
left-wing parties, and attempting to overthrow the government (Fried). In the end, it was successful in accomplishing its
purpose, however, it was all based off of false accusations, and destroyed innocent people's lives.