Blacklisted: Walter Bernstein & Lee Grant

2012-42 FEA Blacklist Walter Bernstein Lee Grant H IPAD
Wesley Mann

"You have to understand how motivated I was. I had 12 years to make up for, and nothing was going to stop me." -- Grant, who, after her dozen years on the blacklist, returned to Hollywood with a vengeance and eventually won an Oscar.

Walter Bernstein, screenwriter, 93

Bernstein has always been open about the fact that he was a communist. He became politicized during a trip to France and then at Dartmouth, where he joined the Young Communist League. After he graduated, he went to Europe to cover World War II for Yank, the Army weekly. When the war ended, he formally joined the Communist Party. "I never thought there'd be repercussions," he says. "The ideas and the ideals were very important to me." Around the same time, an anthology of his wartime writing was published, which led to his first work in Hollywood. Things came to a halt in 1950 when his name appeared in Red Channels -- a pamphlet distributed to studios and networks that listed 151 show-business people whom it deemed members of or sympathetic to the Communist Party -- alongside allegations which, he says, were "all true." His name did not again appear in the credits of a film until 1958 or a TV show until 1961. That wasn't because he stopped working. In fact, using pseudonyms and fronts (other writers who agreed to claim credit so those blacklisted could earn a living), he wrote for The Magnificent Seven (1960), Fail-Safe (1964) and The Molly Maguires (1970). He is best remembered for The Front (1976), a dramedy about the Blacklist that brought him an original screenplay Oscar nom.

Lee Grant, actress, 81

In 1951, at age 20, the New York theater actress made her film debut as a shoplifter in Detective Story. Within the next year, she was voted best actress at the Cannes Film Festival, nominated for a supporting actress Oscar and blacklisted. The young newlywed wife of screenwriter Arnie Manoff, a well-known Party member, Grant got in trouble when, at a memorial service for actor J. Edward Bromberg, she attributed his premature death to pressure caused by a HUAC subpoena. The following week, her name was in Red Channels and, for the next 12 years, she was unemployable. (She was taken off the list in 1964.) Grant was one of the few actors who achieved greater success after being blacklisted than before. "You have to understand how motivated I was," she says. "I had 12 years to make up for, and nothing was going to stop me." She earned an Emmy in 1966 for Peyton Place; a Golden Globe nom for In the Heat of the Night (1967); and best supporting actress Oscar and Globe noms for The Landlord (1970), Shampoo (1975) and Voyage of the Damned (1976), winning the Oscar for Shampoo. "I realized I had no more enemies," she says with a smile. She became a filmmaker, directing the Oscar-winning documentary feature Down and Out in America (1986), and is now writing a book about her Blacklist years.

Bernstein and Grant were photographed Oct. 19 by Wesley Mann at Grant’s home in New York City.