New York City (JFK+50) That was the question directed at suspected communists by the members of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. The investigations of the HUAC targeted suspected communists in positions of influence in the United States. As a result, more than 300 artists found themselves boycotted from the entertainment industry.
Fast forward to June 22, 1950, sixty-five years ago today, a report issued by the right-wing journal "Counterattack," charged Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lena Horne, Peter Seeger and Artie Shaw, along with more than a hundred others, of being suspected communist sympathizers.
"Red Channels: The Report of Communist Infiltration in Radio and Television" targeted a total of 151 actors, writers, musicians and broadcast journalists.
The background for this report can be traced back to May 1947 when Alfred Kohlberg, a textile exporter, founded American Business Consultants, Inc.
John McDonough of NPR writes that Red Channels "arrived quietly (with) no headlines (and) no television coverage," but its impact was swift and sure. For example, a cast member hired by George Burns was dropped when it was discovered his name was listed in Red Channels.
Actress Marsha Hunt said "anyone listed...was just not welcome on the air anymore." She said that in order to get your name off the list..."you had to repent any official stands such as signing a petition" and that you were required to "swear lifelong hatred and opposition to the Communist Party."
"Reliving The Scare: Looking Back on 'Red Channels'," by John McDonough, June 22, 2010, www.npr.org/