I want to personally congratulate Lawrence O’Donnell, host of MSNBC’s Last Word for his story on a segment about the recent decision made by the Writers Guild of America. Due to the unyielding efforts of the children of Dalton Trumbo and Ian McLellan Hunter, the screenwriter (Trumbo) was belatedly added to the credits of the 1953 Paramount comedy, Roman Holiday. The film starred Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, and Eddie Albert.
Christopher Trumbo was a playwright, who spent his adult life studying the details of the Hollywood Blacklist during the McCarthy Era. Chris died in January of 2011. Tim Hunter, a television director, joined his lifelong friend in helping to get Trumbo’s dad the credit he richly deserved.
Dalton Trumbo was a successful screenwriter, and his credits included Five Came Back, A Guy Named Joe, Kitty Foyle, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. After a conviction by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) for Trumbo’s involvement in the Communist Party, he was blacklisted from movie studios for a decade. During the 1950s, the scribe sold scripts without receiving screen credit. Among these films… The Brave One, which won the Oscar for Best Screenplay of 1956. Robert Rich was given the Academy Award, a person who didn’t exist.
DALTON & CLEO TRUMBO (1947 HUAC)
He officially returned to writing for the movies when Kirk Douglas insisted that Trumbo be given screen credit for his work on Spartacus in 1960, which helped break the Blacklist. A year before his death, he was given his statuette for The Brave One by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 1993, Dalton Trumbo was posthumously awarded his Oscar for co-writing Roman Holiday.
In a statement issued last week by the WGA West President Chris Keyser, the Guild issued an apology to the Trumbo family. He hoped the gesture of inclusion of the screenwriter credit to the Paramount film would ease the pain that could never be erased; however, it serves as a reminder to do the right thing, and avoid the impulse of censorship for political reasons. I’m thrilled the Writers Guild Foundation library carries a copy of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History on their prestigious shelves.
Lawrence O’Donnell is well known for his long association with The West Wing, acting as executive story editor, co-producer, consultant, and executive producer throughout various episodes from 1999 to 2006. He won an Emmy for his work in 2001, capturing a statuette for Outstanding Drama Series. Again, politics and Hollywood makes strange bedfellows.
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