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Blacklist

November 08, 1987

Regarding the Hollywood blacklist ("The Blacklist Legacy," by Judith Michaelson, Oct. 18): Sometime in the early '50s my then-husband Buddy Ebsen, struggling to support a wife and three little girls, wrote a pilot for a series called "Mr. Fixit."

The pilot was shot, a buyer for a series materialized, a handshake occurred; the following Monday it was arranged to begin shooting, and a call to costume came in.

However, on Sunday night his agent called to say the deal was off--no explanation, just no show. After weeks of searching it was discovered that in the darkened screening room of an ad agency in Chicago (this was in the days when such agencies still hired and fired writers, directors, actors) someone had said as the pilot was being shown: "Buddy Ebsen, Buddy Ebsen, wasn't he one of the 'unfriendly Ten'?"

Further investigation divulged the fact that if he was on the gray list it was because he had been one of the speakers at a rally at the Lyceum Theatre in New York in 1946, sponsored by the Theater Wing of the American Veterans Committee.

Along with Robert Edmond Jones, Garson Kanin and Canada Lee, he urged Actors Equity members to boycott the legitimate theaters of Washington until those theaters removed their respective bans on blacks.

In Constitution Hall they were not allowed to perform on stage (e.g. Marian Anderson's concert); at the National Theater they could perform, but were not allowed in the audience.

Unbeknown to the speakers, the lobby of the theater was filled with individuals promoting what was then called "communistic" literature, everything from Karl Marx to the latest "cell" newsletters. This was evidently sufficient to place one on the dark gray list.

I know of others with similar stories, but best you should hear from them directly.

NANCY WOLCOTT EBSEN

Balboa Island

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