- NAME: Dalton Trumbo
- OCCUPATION: Anti-War Activist, Director, Journalist, Author, Screenwriter
- BIRTH DATE: December 09, 1905
- DEATH DATE: September 10, 1976
- Did You Know?: Dalton Trumbo posthumously received an Academy Award for the film Roman Holiday, written during his blacklisted period.
- EDUCATION: University of Colorado
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Montrose, Colorado
- PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
- AKA: Robert Rich
- Full Name: James Dalton Trumbo
- AKA: Dalton Trumbo
Best Known For
Dalton Trumbo was an award-winning author and screenwriter who was blacklisted from the film industry from 1947 until the early '60s due to his Communist ties.
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Famed author and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was born on December 9, 1905, in Montrose, Colorado. Trumbo joined nine colleagues in refusing to testify before Congress regarding their Communist ties. The "Hollywood Ten" were blacklisted from 1947 until the early '60s. Trumbo died of a heart attack on September 10, 1976, in Los Angeles, California.
"The chief internal enemies of any state are those public officials who betray the trust imposed upon them by the people."
James Dalton Trumbo was born in Montrose, Colorado, on December 9, 1905. Trumbo worked as a cub reporter while attending Grand Junction High School. He continued his journalistic pursuits during his college years at the University of Colorado. He left Colorado and settled in Los Angeles following his father's death.
Trumbo began writing professionally in the early 1930s, publishing several articles and stories in magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, Vanity Fair and the Hollywood Spectator. In 1934, he was named managing editor of the Hollywood Spectator—though he left this position after a short time to work as a reader in the story department at Warner Bros.
By the late 1930s, Trumbo was one of Hollywood's most successful screenwriters. His credits from this period include Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Kitty Foyle and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. He earned an Academy Award nomination for his work on Kitty Foyle. Trumbo wrote novels in addition to screenplays. His first novel, Eclipse, was published in 1935. His most famous work was the 1939 anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun, which won a National Book Award.
Also in 1939, Trumbo married Cleo Fincher. The couple went on to have three children: a son named Christopher, who went on to become a filmmaker and screenwriter, and daughters Melissa and Nikola.
Trumbo was an official member of the Communist Party from 1943 until 1948. This political stance—shared by many intellectuals and artists at the time—led him to take some unpopular positions and nearly destroyed his career. He first received FBI attention after contacting the agency about some letters he had received from Nazi sympathizers who were fans of Johnny Got His Gun. Instead of investigating the fans, the FBI began to investigate Trumbo.
In October 1947, Trumbo was among a group of 10 Hollywood directors and writers called to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). The committee was investigating whether Communist sympathizers had propagandized American audiences. Trumbo and the other nine individuals summoned all refused to testify. As a consequence, the "Hollywood Ten" were convicted of contempt of Congress, imprisoned for a short period and blacklisted by the heads of the major studios.
Unable to find work in California, Trumbo moved his family to Mexico City. There, he continued to write screenplays under pseudonyms. Over time, the blacklist began to weaken. In 1960, Trumbo received credit for the screenplay adaptation of Exodus.
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In the 1940s and 1950s, the United States was in the grips of a "red scare." Many prominent individuals suspected of sympathizing with liberal or humanitarian causes were branded a communist threat, and even accused of espionage. Hollywood was a major focus of the accusations, and after 10 actors refused to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the blacklist was created. Hundreds of actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters and other entertainment professionals were barred from working. Here are some of the famous people who were on the Hollywood blacklist.
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