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Hollywood Blacklist Launched 75 Years Ago At Waldorf Conference: Here’s How It Went Down

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Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Waldorf Declaration, which on November 25, 1947, officially launched the Hollywood Blacklist.

On that day, the heads of the major studios, with a few notable exceptions, agreed after a contentious two-day conference at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City to ban the Hollywood Ten and to not “knowingly” employ Communists.

And so began one of the darkest chapters in Hollywood’s history. Just a few weeks earlier, the Hollywood Ten had denounced and refused to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee and later were sent to federal prison for contempt of Congress. “We will forthwith discharge or suspend without compensation those in our employ,” the Waldorf Declaration stated, “and we will not re-employ any of the 10 until such time as he is acquitted or has purged himself of contempt and declares under oath that he is not a Communist. “On the broader issue of alleged subversive and disloyal elements in Hollywood, our members are likewise prepared to take positive action.

We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods.” See the mimeographed copy of the original press release here, courtesy of the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library: Fearing that inaction would lead to a loss of public confidence and more government intrusion – while at the same time inviting it – the studio bosses were eerily prescient about what dangers lie ahead but felt they could control the course of events that their declaration had set in motion.

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