IF YOU ENJOYED THE WIRE RECORDER...
I’ve put some stuff on this website I thought you might find interesting, especially if you’ve read The Wire Recorder and enjoyed it. Included are:
The transcript of my parents’ testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee on September 18, 1951
The statements of protest each of my parents prepared in advance of their HUAC appearances, and which the Committee refused to accept into the record
The front page of the April 10, 1951 issue of the Hollywood Reporter trade paper with headlines trumpeting the film industry’s enthusiasm for the coming “red cleanup”
Links to all of the songs mentioned in The Wire Recorder (LISTED BY CHAPTER) here
*Click through to enlarge each image and see it in its entirety.
Don’t let anyone tell you that serious romantic relationships don’t happen until puberty. I met Ellen Kitty Gordon, daughter of my parents’ close friend and fellow blacklisted screenwriter Bernard Gordon, when I was five and she was four; we were inseparable for at least a year or two, and I actually remember referring to her as my “girlfriend.” Our parents thought the whole thing was adorable, and it undoubtedly brought them some much-needed lightheartedness during the darkest years of the blacklist. Ellen was five and I was six when my dad caught us on camera one day in 1953.
For a time during the blacklist, my father worked as a freelance commercial photographer. He did a number of ads like this one for General Film Laboratories, and occasionally used me as a model; I'm the little archer in the Davy Crockett cap in this circa-1956 ad.
Despite the financial constraints of the blacklist, my parents did their best to provide my sister and me with fun, enriching experiences. In January of 1956 my father took me on a weekend trip to Ensenada, Mexico, about a four-hour drive from Los Angeles. I was a geography geek at age nine and was thrilled to be visiting a foreign country for the first time. Until then I'd never been out of California.
During that stay in Ensenada, we went on a fishing expedition. My dad loved to point out how, in this picture, you can see my smile even though I'm facing away from the camera.
Shortly after my dad took this picture, an unfortunate accident ended the fun. Another fish - probably a much bigger one - bit, and its pull was so powerful that the rod slipped out of my grip and plunged into the sea. The boat owner made several attempts to drag it up with his own fishing line, but it was gone. The $10 my father had to pay the boat owner for the lost rod was a significant sum for our family then, and I could tell my dad was trying very hard not to be mad at me about it.
Al, Helen and Tom Levitt, circa 1977
The front cover of the 1951 HUAC transcript volume that includes both my parents' testimony.
The ad my father placed in the August 30, 1951 issue of the venerable entertainment-industry trade magazine Daily Variety after receiving his subpoena to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
A portion of a transcribed complaint my father made to his union, the Screen Writers' Guild, about his blacklisting. The part where he explains why he had to take out a paid ad in Daily Variety in order to have his August 30, 1951 statement printed in the magazine is within the boxed area. (There is a link nearby for any true blacklist geeks who would like to see my father's statement to SWG in its entirety.)
For true blacklist geeks only: The lengthy transcription of a complaint my father made about his blacklisting to his union, the Screen Writers' Guild, clearly showing that he'd been a rising star among Hollywood's screenwriters when he got his subpoena. The Guild ultimately betrayed its blacklisted members by issuing a statement authorizing the studios to deny screen credits to those who were tainted by the HUAC investigations and who refused to "clear" themselves.
The statement of protest my mother planned to make during her HUAC appearance, but which she was not allowed to read or have entered into the record.
The original statement of protest my father planned to make during his HUAC appearance, but which he was not allowed to read or have entered into the record.
The front page of an April, 1951 issue of the Hollywood Reporter whose top headline proclaims the movie industry's enthusiastic support of the HUAC investigations