This Day In History


Famous Victims of the Hollywood Blacklist

From an Oscar-winning scriptwriter to a hardboiled detective novelist, get the facts on seven artists whose careers were turned upside down by the “Red Scare” of the 1940s and 1950s.

Lena Horne

Lena Horne in 1950. (Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)Lena Horne in 1950. (Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

During the 1940s, Lena Horne’s good looks and silky singing voice made her one of the first African American stars of the stage and screen. She still ran up against institutional racism, however, and her frustrations eventually drove her to join up with a variety of activist groups, many of which were populated by political radicals and Communists. Though never a Party member herself, Horne was found guilty by association and blacklisted after her name appeared in “Red Channels” in 1950. Unable to work in television or film, she spent the next few years touring as a nightclub and cabaret singer. She also fought to clear her name by publicly repudiating Communism and undertaking a letter-writing campaign to prominent journalists and entertainment figures. The plan worked: Horne’s reputation was slowly rehabilitated, and by the late-1950s she was once again appearing on television variety shows and recording hit records. Despite her brush with the blacklist, she remained a political activist and later took part in civil rights protests during the 1960s.

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