October 20, 1947: Congress Investigates Communists in Hollywood
On this day in 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee of the U.S. Congress began investigating Communist presence and influence in Hollywood, one of the world’s most affluent and influential populations. This investigation marked the beginning of height of the Red Scare.
As the Cold War progressed and created increased tensions between the United States and the communist-controlled Soviet Union, conservative U.S. officials worked to oust communists in the government as well as in the movie industry, which was known to be exceptionally liberal.
In addition to hearings and investigations, Congress also pressured Hollywood establishments to create a blacklist policy, which banned the work of screenwriters, actors and directors who were not cleared by HUAC.
Check out this PBS NewsHour “Seeing Red” analysis of the investigation of suspected communists in Hollywood, which both damaged and ruined hundreds of film careers.
Photo: Investigators viewing communist evidence from Hollywood (Library of Congress)