Kirk Douglas fired up over blacklist, slavery

Thu Oct 9, 2008 8:21am EDT
 
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By Paul Bond

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - For a dozen years during the Cold War, accused members and former members of the American Communist Party were barred from working in the movie industry.

The blacklist era ended when Kirk Douglas gave screenwriting credit to Dalton Trumbo -- probably the most famous of the Hollywood 10 -- for his work on "Spartacus." The movie, which starred Douglas and was executive produced by him, opened 48 years ago this week.

On October 22, the 91-year-old actor will be honored at the Ambassadors for Humanity Gala Dinner benefiting the USC Shoah Foundation Institute. Douglas, who had a stroke 12 years ago that has impaired his speech, discussed the legacy of "Spartacus" and of the contemporary political climate in Hollywood.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: HOW'S YOUR HEALTH?

Kirk Douglas: Very good. My wife says that for a man who can't talk, I talk a lot.

THR: WHY DID YOU HIRE DALTON TRUMBO TO WRITE "SPARTACUS"?

Douglas: Sen. (Joseph) McCarthy was an awful man who was finding communists all over the country. He blacklisted the writers who wouldn't obey his edict. The heads of the studios were hypocrites who went along with it.

My company produced "Spartacus," written by Dalton Trumbo, a blacklisted writer, under the name Sam Jackson. Too many people were using false names back then. I was embarrassed. I was young enough to be impulsive, so, even though I was warned against it, I used his real name on the screen.   Continued...

 
<p>Actor Kirk Douglas, 90, is photographed during an interview about his life, film career and his new book "Let's Face It," at his home in Beverly Hills, California in this April 26, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files</p>