Fifty-four stars stepped up to the ABC microphones to record the radio show “Hollywood Fights Back,” which aired Oct.26, 1947. And 26 of them boarded a plane for Washington to protest the House of Un-American Activities Committee probe of Hollywood. Sixty years later, another group of players will perform “Hollywood Strikes Back — Again” on Oct.26, 2007, “live” at the Skirball Cultural Center. Among those performing this night will be Marsha Hunt, speaking the same words she broadcast 60 years ago that night. I have a full copy of the transcript of that show decrying Congress with remarks by stars including Judy Garland, Charles Boyer, Gene Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, John Huston, Danny Kaye, Evelyn Keyes, Burt Lancaster, William Holden, Myrna Loy, Robert Young, Lucille Ball, Edward G. Robinson, Paulette Goddard, Audie Murphy, William Wyler, John Garfield, Fredric March, Artie Shaw, Vincent Price, and more. Norman Corwin, 97, who wrote the original radio show with Robert Presnell Jr., will be directing his new, non-political play, “Strange Affliction” also on Oct. 26 at the Thousand Oaks Public Library to benefit the California Artists Radio Theatre.
The “Hollywood Strikes Back — Again” program at the Skirball is co-sponsored by PEN West along with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. Among those set to perform include James Whitmore, Larry Gelbart, Camryn Manheim, Catherine Dent , Norma Barzman, Chris Trumbo, Becca Wilson, Ramona Ripston, Isabelle Gunning, and more. Nat Segaloff will producer. For tickets call: 213-977-5227.
In another historic freedom of speech coincidence — The US Patriot Act was enacted by Congress and signed on Oct. 26 in 2001. It has rekindled a climate of fear that rivals that of HUAC. Thus this Oct. 26 anniversary celebration by the showbiz community is a reminder of the continuing battle for freedom of thought and speech in America.