Hollywood witchhunter’s son apologizes for persecution

This is the trailer of the film Trumbo; about the 1947 persecution in the film studios of Hollywood, USA.

By Bill Benfield:

Publisher’s son says sorry for paper’s role in witch-hunts

Tuesday 20 November 2012

The son of Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson apologised today for the trade paper’s role in the 1947 witch-hunt that destroyed the careers of writers, actors and directors accused of having communist ties.

Willie Wilkerson called the blacklist era “Hollywood’s Holocaust” and wrote in the Reporter: “On the eve of this dark 65th anniversary, I feel an apology is necessary.”

He said that his father used the blacklist to get revenge against Hollywood moguls who shut him out of their club when he tried to set up a film studio in the 1920s.

Billy Wilkerson founded the Reporter in 1930 and used it as a vehicle for editorials attacking communist sympathisers and their influence in Hollywood.

“In his maniacal quest to annihilate the studio owners, he realised that the most effective retaliation was to destroy their talent,” his son wrote.

“The easiest way to crush the studio owners was to simply call their actors, writers and directors communists.

“Apart from being charged with contempt for refusing to name names, none of these individuals committed any crimes.”

Studios dominated the industry and denied work to those named on the blacklist.

Some writers worked under pseudonyms and many actors and their families were forced to move overseas for work.

Billy Wilkerson wrote on November 5 1947: “Any man or woman who, under the guise of freedom of speech, or the cloak of the Bill of Rights, or under the pseudo-protection of being a liberal, says things, causes things to be said, or who actually is involved with many of the conspiracies that have now infested this great land of ours, has no place among us, be he commie or what.

“He or she should be rushed out of our business.”

Willie Wilkerson said: “On behalf of my family, and particularly my late father, I wish to convey my sincerest apologies and deepest regrets” to the victims.

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