15 Entertainers Who Were Labeled Communist in the Red Channels List

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In Hollywood in the 1940s and ‘50s, a rumor of Communist sympathies was enough to end a person’s career—or at least to force it into an undesired hiatus. The creation of blacklists beginning in the late 1940s left many entertainers barred from performing in certain venues or in TV, radio and film. The Red Channels pamphlet, published on June 22, 1950, served to expand and enhance the existing mechanisms of the blacklists.

The 151 people listed by the right-wing journal Counterattack included actors, authors, musicians and journalists. Some had already been blacklisted, while for others the accusations were new. The fates of those named depended on whether they cooperated with the House Un-American Activities Committee (which many did not) and whether the accusations were ultimately substantiated. Some, like Judy Holliday, endured a period of unemployment before resuming their careers. For others, like actor John Garfield, the list spelled the end of their careers.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

Lena Horne, 1948.
Lena Horne: The singer, dancer and actress, pictured in 1948, was blacklisted from performing for many years, labeled a Communist sympathizer due to her civil rights activism and connection to friend Paul Robeson, who was heavily targeted for his affiliations with communism.W. Eugene Smith—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Arthur Miller, 1947.
Arthur Miller: The celebrated playwright, pictured in 1947, refused to name suspected Communists when called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC).Eileen Darby—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty
Orson Welles, 1949.
Orson Welles: The film director, pictured in 1949, was a vocal political leftist whose classic movie Citizen Kane was believed by some to espouse Communist ideology.Dmitri Kessel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Langston Hughes, 1958.
Langston Hughes: The poet, pictured in 1958, was affiliated with some Communist-linked groups, and his poetry sometimes appeared in Communist newspapers.Robert W. Kelley—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Gypsy Rose Lee, 1957.
Gypsy Rose Lee: The burlesque star, pictured in 1957, was blacklisted for her attendance at meetings of the Communist United Front.Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Dorothy Parker, 1940.
Dorothy Parker: The FBI had a 1,000-page file on the writer, pictured in 1940, who had reported for a Communist magazine and was suspected of supporting the party.Bob Landry—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty
Leonard Bernstein, 1955.
Leonard Bernstein: The composer, pictured in 1955, was named a suspected Communist but was never called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.Gordon Parks—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
John Garfield, 1948.
John Garfield: The actor, pictured in 1948, refused to name names when testifying before HUAC, effectively leading to the end of his movie career.Herbert Gehr—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Burl Ives, 1940's/50's.
Burl Ives: The actor and folksinger was involved with labor unions, which led to suspicion. He denied affiliation with the Communist Party and cooperated with the HUAC, which got him removed from the blacklist but led to the belief among former friends in the folk community that he had sold out.Gjon Mili—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Judy Holliday, 1951.
Judy Holliday: The actress and singer, pictured in 1951, was blacklisted from radio and TV for several years.Nina Leen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Uta Hagen, 1948.
Uta Hagen: The German actress, pictured in 1948, found her opportunities limited after appearing on the blacklist, in part due to her affiliation with Paul Robeson.Joseph Scherschel—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Burgess Meredith, 1940's.
Burgess Meredith: After appearing on the blacklist, the actor endured a seven-year absence from the movies.Martha Holmes—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Artie Shaw, 1949.
Artie Shaw: The clarinetist and bandleader, pictured in 1949, was brought before HUAC for having attended Communist meetings. He claimed to have attended purely out of interest in social justice, though some who knew him claimed that his affiliation ran deeper.Martha Holmes—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Dashiell Hammett, 1953.
Dashiell Hammett: The author, pictured at a Senate hearing on Communism in 1953, was a member of the American Communist Party. After taking the Fifth Amendment at a hearing, he was charged with contempt of court and imprisoned for five months.Hank Walker—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
Pete Seeger, 1946.
Pete Seeger: The folksinger, pictured in 1946, was an open member of the Communist Party. He refused to name names before HUAC in 1955, which led to a conviction of contempt of Congress and a 10-year sentence that was later overturned.Cornell Capa—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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