Why did images of white, nuclear families dominate television in the 1950s? Why has it taken nearly 70 years for images of a diverse America—featuring people of color, immigrants, women as independent social beings—to appear on prime time television? Challenging the longstanding belief that what appeared on television screens in the 1950s and after resulted from some social consensus, The Broadcast 41 addresses these and other questions by telling two intersecting stories.
Here's hoping that folks find this compilation of performer, writer, and activist Fredi Washington's World War II era columns from the People's Voice useful. Take some time to get to know Washington by reading Laurie Woodard's brilliant introduction!
Marsha Hunt, the longest-lived of the 41 women listed in Red Channels in 1950, died last week.
Along with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, John Huston, and Katherine Hepburn, Hunt joined the Committee for the First Amendment, a group the grew out of attacks on the Hollywood writers, producers, and directors who became known as the Hollywood Ten and challenged the House Un-American Activities Committee's attacks on progressives in the film industry.
Great review in Jump Cut about Being the Ricardos, the recent biopic about Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. Of interest to those interested in gender and TV history is its treatment of Judy Holliday, apparently the object of Ball's criticism. Evidence that Hollywood still loves a catfight between powerful women, rather than telling the more complicated and interesting story of two women who had obvious political and artistic differences.
The March on Washington Film Festival is screening a documentary about Hazel Scott's art and activism. The film was produced by the Apollo Theater, narrated by Hazel Scott biographer Karen Chilton, and features performances by pianist Damien Sneed and saxophonist & vocalist Camille Thurman. Full information here.
A Terrible Silence focuses on five of the 41 women who were blacklisted in television in 1950. The play tells something of their lives, their dreams, their prolific talents and their silencers.