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.
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.
Dorothy Parker was a lifelong defender of civil rights and civil liberties. When she died, she left her estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as this article describes. After his assassination, her cremated remains variously resided in a crematory in Westchester County, a Manhattan lawyer's office, , a garden outside NAACP headquarters.
Fredi Washington, Paul Robeson, Josephine Baker, and many others all had roles in the 1921 Broadway hit, Shuffle Along, the first Broadway hit written, composed and performed by African Americans. Author and teacher Caseen Gaines has a new book about this and other influential Black productions: Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way.
From the Ghost Busters remake to The Green Knight to (long ago now) the remake of Battlestar Galactica, some people get pretty worked up about casting choices.