Hollywood Actresses Over 50 Biography
Once Judy Holliday became a household name, she also became the prey of a paranoid vanguard of political "patriots" conducting witch hunts for Communists. The allegations that Judy was a Communist, or perhaps pro-Communist in her views, were not new. In fact, they began surfacing as early as 1947, while still performing Born Yesterday on Broadway. Her name and a list of alleged wrong-doings appeared in an anti-Communist booklet entitled Red Channels. It purported itself to be a list of 151 people working in radio and television, whose political history suggested that they might be sympathetic to communism. At the time, this booklet seemed rather innocuous and was dismissed by most as just fringe-element sensationalism. But, as the anti-communism movement began to snowball, the innocuous quickly mushroomed into the ominous. By the early 1950's, Red Channels had become accepted as the prime resource guide to consult when it came time hire members of the entertainment industry. Every movie studio, radio network, television network and advertising agency were supplied with copies. If your name appeared in Red Channels or similar publications, you would likely be denied employment. This was the infamous practice of blacklisting. There were two separate blacklists operating at this time. The Hollywood blacklist was imposed by the heads of the movie studios as a form of self-regulation. Fearful of the Government's power to curtail or cripple the money-making empire that the movie moguls had built, they turned on their own, firing and banning any known or suspected Communists. The radio & television blacklist was imposed by the broadcast networks and, to a greater extent, the advertising agencies whose clients sponsored the programs. The agencies feared that there would be a consumer backlash against their clients if people who were under suspicion of being Communists appeared on one of their client's programs. The ad agencies in turn pressured network executives to not hire anyone listed in Red Channels by threatening to pull their sponsorship of the show. The two blacklists did not necessarily contain the same names. In some instances, people blacklisted in Hollywood found work on television and vice versa. It depended on the individual, the level of suspicion and the executives in charge. The Red Channels entry for Judy stated that she had lent her name or given money to questionable organizations. The report alleged that these organizations were actually fronts for Communist activity. Based on this report, the FBI began investigating Judy and she was eventually subpoenaed to testify before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, headed up by Utah Senator Arthur Watkins. In Washington, D.C. on March 26, 1952, a nervous Judy Holliday appeared before the committee knowing full well that the fate which had already befallen some of her peers could happen to her with one wrong answer. During the course of the closed-door session, she stated that "yes," she had indeed made charitable donations or allowed the use of her name for some of these organizations, but that she did not know at the time that they were allegedly Communist-backed fronts. Futhermore, Judy revealed that her name had frequently been used without her knowledge or consent. She emphatically denied that she was now, or had ever been, a Communist. She did however grant the fact that she was "guilty" of not checking into these organizations thoroughly before lending her name or financial support to what seemed to be a worthy cause. The Chairman was not above threatening her with inferences that the committee had the power to ruin her career. They pressured her repeatedly to name names, but their demands failed reap a single name. Satisfied with the explanations of her activities (and having no real evidence), Judy was dismissed. Six months later, when her testimony was released to the public, it became apparent that Judy used her dumb blonde image to her advantage, skirting a couple of questions where she could have implicated others and subtly mocking the outlandish proceedings in a Billie Dawn-like manner.