Scribe Christopher Trumbo, son of blacklisted scripter Dalton Trumbo, died Jan. 8 in Ojai, Calif., of complications from kidney cancer. He was 70.
Trumbo penned the docu screenplay for “Trumbo,” detailing the Hollywood Blacklist and its effects, especially on his father and his family. Pic, which world preemed at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007, was adapted from his play “Red, White and Black-Listed,” written in 2003, and toured the U.S. It was based on letters that his father had written. As a result of the blacklisting, screenwriter Dalton Trumbo left for Mexico in 1951 with his family including Christopher.
With first-hand experience of what the House Committee on Un-American Activities did to the so-called Hollywood 10, Christopher Trumbo became an expert on the subject of blacklisted writers.
In a piece written for the Huffington Post in May 2009 he said of his father, “Trumbo wasn’t able to break the blacklist, to smash it into pieces or obliterate it or crumple it up into a ball and throw it in the trash can — but he was able to cripple it, and when his name appeared on the screen when ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Exodus’ opened within a few months of each other in New York, it became easier for other writers to get their names on what they had written without having to sign statements about what their political beliefs currently were or what they had been in the past or needing to justify themselves to their employers about anything at all.”
The family returned to the U.S. later and Christopher Trumbo started his own showbiz writing career with 1971’s “Bearcats.” From 1972-74 he wrote for “Ironside,” the Raymond Burr series that ran on NBC, as well as episodes of “Quincy” and “Falcon Crest.” Other credits as a writer include telepics “Ishi: The Last of His Tribe” and “Naked City: A Killer Christmas.”
He worked with his father as assistant director on “Exodus” and “Johnny Got His Gun,” on which he also served as associate producer.
Survivors include his wife, Nancy, and two sisters.