The son of the founder of The Hollywood Reporter has apologized for decisions exacted by his dad at the beginning of the Cold War. In a story circulated by the trade publication, Willie Wilkerson expressed remorse on the the eve of the 65th anniversary of his father’s role in the 1947 Hollywood Blacklist that ruined the livelihood of writers, actors and directors accused of having communist ties.
The elder William R. Wilkerson printed the official list of names targeted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in their 1947 hearings. Among the notable careers disrupted or ravaged by this announcement: E.Y. Harburg, Howard Koch, Ring Lardner Jr., Edward Dmytryk, and Dalton Trumbo. (below).
William supported the Blacklist in a targeted response against the Hollywood moguls who had denied him the opportunity to establish a film studio in the late 1920s. He created The Hollywood Reporter in 1930. After World War II, he used the paper as a vehicle for a series of editorials attacking communist sympathizers and their influence in the movie industry. The publication named names and headlined the issue.
During his tenure as editor-in-chief of The Hollywood Reporter, Wilkerson was also known for opening nightclubs along the Sunset Strip; co-financing the building of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas with Bugsy Siegel (below); and finding Lana Turner at the Top Hat Cafe, located on Sunset Blvd. Wilkerson brought the aspiring talent to Zeppo Marx, who became a theatrical agent after he retired from acting (Zeppo was a member of the Marx Brothers). The Schwabs Drug Store story was actually fabricated by the MGM publicity department.
The details of The Hollywood Reporter’s role in the Blacklist era was chronicled for the first time in a lengthy article published on Monday. The younger Wickerson surmised his dad might have apologized for curtailing so many careers had he lived long enough. He died in 1962, two years after the Blacklist was broken by Kirk Douglas, who hired Dalton Trumbo to supervise the script for Spartacus; and most importantly, received screen credit.
William Wilkerson’s son released the following statement:
On behalf of my family, and particularly my late father, I wish to convey my sincerest apologies and deepest regrets to those victimized by this unfortunate incident.
WILLIAM R. WILKERSON
(courtesy of Wilkerson Archives)
The Hollywood Reporter is basking in the afterglow of winning eight awards at Sunday’s National Entertainment Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Los Angeles Press Club. This important article following an impressive evening of accolades speaks volumes for a fine organization. Kudos to The Hollywood Reporter!
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