Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, blacklisted in McCarthy period, dies at 101


NEW YORK (AP) — Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, among the many final survivors of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist whose Oscar-nominated script for “The Entrance” drew upon his years of being unable to work beneath his personal title, died Saturday. He was 101.

The trigger was pneumonia, in keeping with his spouse, the literary agent Gloria Loomis.

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A World Struggle II correspondent for the navy who additionally had been printed in The New Yorker, Bernstein was initially of what appeared a promising movie profession when the Chilly Struggle and anti-Communist paranoia led to his being blacklisted in 1950, a destiny which ruined the lives of lots of his friends and led some to suicide. Job provides to Bernstein have been rescinded and onetime associates stopped talking to him. FBI brokers regarded by way of his trash, confirmed up at his door and adopted him outdoors.

“I used to be beginning to go searching after I left my home, wanting over my shoulder after I walked down the road, bracing myself for the inevitable encounter,” he wrote in his memoir “Inside Out,” printed in 1996. “Even anticipating it, I used to be startled when it got here, and there can be the sudden bitter style of concern for a second after which a shaming wave of anger, not at them however at myself for being afraid. I may by no means actually get offended at them. They have been solely doing their job, like delivering milk.”

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Unwilling to supply the Home Un-American Actions Committee names of suspected Communists, the best way director Elia Kazan and others had been spared from banishment, Bernstein discovered employment by way of using “fronts,” folks keen to lend their names (and obtain a part of the proceeds) for scripts he had written.

His fronts included an actor’s spouse hoping to assist her husband break by way of in motion pictures and a pal of a pal, a man named Leo, who had a playing behavior to assist. Few have been conscious at any given time that Bernstein had contributed to such hit CBS tv sequence because the crime drama “Hazard” and to “You Are There,” hosted by Walter Cronkite and that includes re-enactments of historic occasions starting from the Boston Tea Get together to the demise of Cleopatra.

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Whereas many have been blacklisted only for supporting left-wing causes, Bernstein truly was a member of the American Communist Get together and remained so till 1956, when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev revealed the numerous brutalities of Joseph Stalin, who had died three years earlier. Bernstein would bear in mind his resolution with “aid” over not abiding Soviet dogma and “disappointment” for the individuals who have been fellow idealists.

“I had left the Get together, however not the concept of socialism,” he wrote in his memoir, “the chance that there might be a system not based mostly on inequality and exploitation.”

The blacklist started to weaken within the late ’50s and ended for Bernstein in 1959 with “That Type of Lady,” starring Sophia Loren. He was quickly engaged on “The Magnificent Seven,” the Hollywood adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s traditional “Seven Samurai,” and on an A-list movie that led to tragedy, “One thing’s Gotta Give.” Marilyn Monroe was forged as a shipwreck survivor who returns to her husband and kids after being presumed misplaced. However Monroe was typically late or absent altogether from the set and was fired in June 1962. Two months later, she was discovered lifeless from an obvious suicide.

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Within the 1970s, Bernstein was ready to make use of his personal story for what grew to become his most acclaimed challenge, “The Entrance,” starring Woody Allen as a stand-in for blacklisted writers and that includes Bernstein’s pal Zero Mostel, who additionally had been ostracized within the ’50s. Bernstein obtained an Academy Award nomination in 1977 and a Writers Guild of America prize for finest display screen drama. Across the similar time, Allen gave him an performing cameo within the Oscar-winning “Annie Corridor.”

His different writing credit included the Burt Reynolds soccer comedy “Semi-Powerful” and movies by such previous associates as Martin Ritt (“The Entrance,” “The Molly Maguires,” a narrative of rebelling miners he as soon as cited as his private favourite) and Sidney Lumet (“Fail-Secure”). Bernstein himself directed “Little Miss Marker,” a 1980 launch based mostly on the Damon Runyon brief story.

In 1994, he obtained a lifetime achievement award from the Japanese department of the Display screen Writers Guild. Into his 90s, he taught screenwriting at New York College and was an adviser to the movie college on the Sundance Institute, based by Robert Redford.

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Bernstein was married 4 occasions, most not too long ago to Loomis, and had 5 youngsters. Over his lengthy life, he additionally loved an eclectic vary of associates and acquaintances, from authors Irwin Shaw and Shirley Jackson to songwriter Irving Berlin and actress Bette Davis, who, Bernstein was shocked to be taught, shared his admiration for the writings of Karl Marx. “Probably the most fantastic books,” she known as them.

Descended from Jewish immigrants from Japanese Europe, Bernstein was born and raised in New York Metropolis and by his teenagers had discovered his passions for motion pictures and politics. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth School, he reviewed motion pictures for the campus newspaper till he was fired for panning the favored 1937 fantasy “Misplaced Horizon.” In his spare time, he learn Marx and Engels, Steinbeck and Dreiser, and sought out movies by Sergei Eisenstein and different Russian administrators.

“The books had opened my head,” he wrote. “The films opened my coronary heart.”

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He was drafted in 1941 and spent a lot of World Struggle II as a reporter for the Military publication Yank, submitting dispatches from the Center East, Sicily and Yugoslavia, the place he grew to become the primary American to interview the nation’s longtime chief, Josip Broz Tito. After the conflict ended, in 1945, he joined the employees of The New Yorker and obtained a 10-week contract to work for Columbia Footage in Hollywood. He stayed 10 months, lengthy sufficient to be seen by authorities brokers and to find his love for motion pictures wasn’t dispelled by studying how they have been made.

“I had been initiated into the thriller, participated within the sacred course of,” he wrote in his memoir. “Making a film was like constructing a cathedral, the laborious and expert work of many fingers. Then you definitely checked out it when it was completed and, in case you have been blessed, you noticed Chartres. If not, you noticed St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue. It was nonetheless a cathedral. At the same time as an acolyte I may nonetheless enter the darkish, embracing cave and really feel mysteriously freed.”

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