United States actress Frances Chaney Lardner during McCarthyism

Book by Ms Lardner's daughter

From the Independent series about United States activists:

Frances Chaney Lardner


In the McCarthy era, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) blacklisted actors, and those deemed “subversive” quickly found themselves unemployable.

I was an actress and I had a decent career in New York. But after the HUAC hearings, I couldn’t get any real work. From 1947 till 1963, I was able to play only one part on night-time television. An agency sent me for a big part on the Philco Playhouse, in a script written by Paddy Chayefsky. I thought, “See, by God, I’ve sneaked through.” That spring, the same agency said they had a part for me in Marty. Chayefsky had written it with me in mind, and all they wanted was script approval. And then the process started: “Call us back in an hour.” They finally said they were very sorry. Someone else had been cast in the part. Then they recast the first Chayefsky programme: I was out. The terrible thing about the whole business is what it did to people. It made the victims of the blacklist suspicious and fearful. For example, I remember well the time that I got my first important job in a Broadway play in 1962.

There was a lovely woman who understudied me. We were in the dressing-room we shared, and I suddenly felt, “What if she’s from the FBI?” I had nothing to conceal whatsoever, and yet I had this sense that she was put there. You found yourself worried because there were things that had to be protected: children had to be protected, your livelihood had to be protected. I went from being an open, free, healthy, outgoing person to suddenly having these walls around me.

From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Birch Society Announces Association with Rockwell’s Financial Backer

December 14, 1962

A Joe McCarthy Bookstore, named for the late Wisconsin Senator, will open for business here Monday under sponsorship of the right-wing John Birch Society and operated by Speros Lagoulis, close friend and financial supporter of George Rockwell, head of the American Nazi party, the Boston Herald reported yesterday.

Philip K. Langan, New England coordinator for the Birch society, was quoted on the plans for the first operating association of the extreme rightist group and the neo-Nazi party. Langan said that a brochure on the store, which will feature a stock of “American” books, periodicals and pamphlets, was being prepared and would be sent to Birch Society members soon.

The store will operate seven days a week, Langan said. Birch members have been urged to offer their services as part-time clerks and several persons who are not Birch members have already volunteered, he added, according to the Herald.

Lagoulis was fined $25 in Boston Municipal Court in 1961 for using the name “Nathan Ginsburg” to register hotel rooms for Rockwell and an aide when they came to Boston in January 1961 to picket the movie “Exodus.” On one occasion, Rockwell was arrested in Topfield while using a car registered in the name of Lagoulis’ wife.

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