Best Known For
Actress Judy Holliday was know for playing dumb but good-natured characters. She won an Academy Award for best actress in the film Born Yesterday.
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The play opened on February 4, 1946, to rave reviews and Holliday then played Billie Dawn for three years. Garson Kanin remembers her as a "tremendously rare combination of intellect and instinct. And a girl of principle, and of deep social feeling." In 1948 the screen rights to Born Yesterday were purchased by Columbia Pictures. As a movie, Born Yesterday (1950) brought Holliday an Academy Award for best actress. Gloria Swanson,
a nominee for the Oscar for her performance that year in Sunset Boulevard, congratulated Holliday saying, "My dear, couldn't you have waited? You have so much ahead of you—so many years. This was my only chance."
Holliday's other screen credits included The Marrying Kind (1952), about a blue-collar couple facing divorce. The remaining films for Columbia were all tailor-made for the roles she played best. George Morris commented that she could "switch from comedy to tragedy with a mere inflection in her voice: a mixture of dumb blonde, naivete, New York savvy was her strongest instrument."
Holliday's career was threatened in 1952 when she was subpoenaed, along with many other performers, by a Senate subcommittee investigating subversive influences in the performing arts. As Lee Israel comments, "In the context of the 1950's when guilt was historic and by association ... she had plenty to be frightened of." Certain facets in her life lead to such conclusions. Many of the performers at the Mercury Theater were labeled "radicals," and she had been a signer of an advertisement that appeared on December 1, 1948, calling upon the film industry to revoke its Communist blacklist.
Holliday stated to the subcommittee: "I am not a member of any organization that is listed by the Attorney General as subversive. In any instance where I lent my name in the past, it was certainly without knowledge that such an organization was subversive." But certain allegations could not be denied. "Irresponsible and slightly more than that—stupid," was Holliday's self-description of her association with these groups. As a result of the hearings Holliday was blacklisted by television for 10 years.
She was still able to star in films, such as It Should Happen to You (1954), Phffft (1954), The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956), in which she played a shrewd, inexperienced businesswoman, and Full of Life (1957). In 1956 she starred on Broadway as Ella Peterson in Bells Are Ringing and received an Antoinette Perry Award for her performance. She recreated the role four years later in the film version.
In 1960, during the pre-Broadway tryout of Laurette, in which she played her first dramatic role, Holliday developed a voice problem that prevented her from projecting her voice beyond the first few rows of the theater. The show was forced to close, and the problem was subsequently diagnosed as cancer. Holliday was unable to perform again, with the exception of a brief run in the musical Hot Spot (1963). At that time, she was involved in an intense relationship with jazz saxophonist Gerry Mulligan.
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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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