How Humphrey Bogart Took A Stand During The Hollywood Red Scare

The first day Humphrey Bogart and the other Hollywood heavy hitters, dubbed the “glamour brigade” by the press (per “Show Trial”), attended the hearing, John Howard Lawson was on the stand. Lawson was a playwright, screenwriter, and a founder of the Screen Writers Guild, who was also a communist, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He and HUACs chairperson, J. Parnell Thomas, got into a shouting match that didn’t play well with the public, according to “Show Trial.” In the exact scenario the Committee for the First Amendment had railed against, they too suffered from “guilt by association.”

Before his Washington trip, Bogart told the press, “This has nothing to do with communism. It’s none of my business who’s a communist and who isn’t,” per Slate. But once back in Hollywood, both he and Bacall came under an intense pressure campaign by the government, Warner Brothers studio, and his agents, to backtrack on their stance against HUAC, per Clancy Sigal in The New Republic. In December 1947, Bogart gave a press statement in which he disavowed any communist leanings, per The Commercial Appeal. The next May, Bogart again came out against communism in Photoplay, but defended liberals and the right to call out government censorship. He and Bacall continued their film careers. The Hollywood 10, on the other hand, were given jail sentences ranging from six months to a year, and blacklisted by the studio bosses, with many never working in Hollywood again, per Britannica.