Actor Norman Lloyd, known for his television role on the 1980s television show St. Elsewhere as well as films directed by Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, died Tuesday at the age of 106, USA Today reports.
Typically, NatZero would not cover the death of an actor–no matter if his career was as successful and honored as Lloyd’s–but Lloyd wasn’t just an actor. He was also someone who stood up to the bully of McCarthyism and the Hollywood Blacklist, one of the last living artists impacted by it.
The Hollywood Blacklist was conservative “cancel culture” at its worst. Actors, producers, directors, singers–even low-level crew–were denied work because of alleged ties to communism and the Soviet Union.
A little history lesson: In 1947, Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate during the Truman administration. In the start of the Cold War, radical anti-communist Republicans took over the House Un-American Affairs Committee, a one-time ad hoc committee set up to investigate activities by communists, fascists and “enemy sympathizers.”
Starting in 1947, though, The Committee, as it was known, called anyone one of its members even suspected of having socialist/communist leanings. It had a partner on the Senate side with the rantings of Wisconsin Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Various people were called to testify before The Committee, many without lawyers and virtually all of them without any evidence tying them to a betrayal of the United States. At first, The Committee subpoenaed ten actors and directors, accusing them of being communists and demanding that they disclose the names of their friends, who were presumably their co-conspirators. The ten refused, and so began the Hollywood Blacklist, a list of people in the arts that should be boycotted because, The Committee claimed, they were communists.
Lloyd was one of them. While his politics were self-admittedly left-leaning, Lloyd had no connection to foreign political groups. Like the scores of others on the Blacklist–which would ultimately grow to more than 200 actors, directors, writers, producers, cartoonists, musicians and even an intern of a movie studio.
The list included people like Charlie Chaplin, musician Artie Shaw, actor Orson Bean and singer Harry Belafonte.
The Hollywood Blacklist didn’t just kill people’s careers; it killed people. A number of people on the Blacklist took their own lives as their lives were destroyed. No one on the Blacklist cooperated with the witchhunt by the House Un-American Affairs Committee. (The ones who did weren’t blacklisted.)
Lloyd was one of those people who didn’t cooperate. His career suffered; he had no movie roles at all after starring in Chaplin’s “Limelight” in 1953 until he was cast in a 1978 film “Aubrey Rose.” Virtually all his performances in the 1960s were in Hitchcock’s episodic television show. His career reignited after being cast in the medical drama St. Elsewhere, including roles in
Lloyd stood up to the political conservatives, and it cost him dearly, but he was a well-respected and admired actor and human. His plight–brought on by those who falsely claim to be acting to defend “America as we know it” is a cautionary tale for us all.