Hollywood personalities listen to a session of the House Un-American Activities Committee hearing on Communist penetration of the film industry. The hearing occurred three years before the release of Red Channels and laid some of the groundwork for the report. Actress Marsha Hunt can be found in the third row, fifth from the right.
text size A A A June 22, 2010
John McDonough is a commentator for NPR.
Red Channels: the Report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television arrived quietly and discreetly. No headlines, no TV coverage. There seemed to be something a little dirty about it from the start.
Some executives wouldn’t even admit to having seen a copy. But Red Channels was soon the most public secret in the industry. Among the prominent names it listed were Orson Welles, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Miller, Lena Horne, Edward R. Murrow and Artie Shaw.
Its vigilante crusade was serious business. For example, early in 1951 George Burns introduced a new cast member on The Burns and Allen Show: John Brown. But Brown had been listed in Red Channels. After six months, he was dropped. There were a lot of stories like that.