The great skill of Oprah Winfrey is her ability to communicate with an audience and tell a good story.
She did that last night at the usually silly Golden Globe awards of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The truth is that I am an awards show watcher. I justify it by claiming there is some sociological knowledge that can be gained from watching them. But, I have always been a sucker for movies and Hollywood.
Less so now that I have to frequently Google to know who the celebrity is.
It is easy to be snarky about wealthy celebrities wearing thousand dollar black evening gowns and black ties with their tuxedoes as a way to make their political point. I did notice that when it came to the winners, it was a rare male who said anything about gender issues in the film industry.
It was left to the women to do the heavy lifting. Again.
I was also moved by the appearance of the 101-year old, Kirk Douglas.
Aside from being a favorite actor of mine when I was growing up, he is a political hero for being one of those who ended the Hollywood Blacklist of progressives and communists in the film industry.
As was mentioned on the broadcast, Douglas broke the hiring conspiracy when he hired the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo to be the screenwriter, using his own name, of the Howard Fast novel, Spartacus.
Howard Fast was a Red.
So was Trumbo.
During the period of the blacklist many writers and others could only work if they worked under a phony name and for less money than they would have earned otherwise.
Others couldn’t work in Hollywood at all.
I had friends in high school whose parents worked in Hollywood before the blacklist and never were hired again.
For them the blacklist never ended.
Ned Young was a family friend when I was growing up in Los Angeles. I was a curious kid about all things Hollywood and Ned always took the time to talk to me when he came over to the house, including showing me an actual script he might be working on.
Holding a real movie script in my hands as a teenager was something.
Ned Young was blacklisted. He won an Academy Award for writing The Defiant Ones starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. But he won it under the name, Nathan E. Douglas and he couldn’t appear at the ceremony to receive it.
He wrote Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock under that name.
Ned Young also wrote the screenplays for Inherit the Wind about the famous Scopes Monkey Trial starring Spencer Tracy and Shadow on the Land.
Shadow on the Land was a 1968 made-for-television movie adapted from the Sinclair Lewis novel It Can’t Happen Here. The plot involved a President creating a fascist, totalitarian regime in the United States, and a resistance movement forming against it.