LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The son of The Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson apologized Monday for the trade paper’s role in the Hollywood Blacklist that accused many entertainment industry professionals of being communist, single-handedly ruining their careers.
“Nobody has apologized to these people. They need an apology. I know that, if I were on the receiving end, I would like to receive an apology,” W.R. “Willie” Wilkerson III said.
In an article published by The Hollywood Reporter, the 61-year-old said his father supported the Blacklist to exact revenge against studio executives, who he felt squashed his dream when he tried to start a movie studio in the 1920s.
“He wanted to retaliate against the movie moguls who had shut him out in 1927. He wanted a career in the movie industry, he wanted to start his own studio…The movie moguls messed with the wrong person. My father made it a vendetta to get back to them,” Wilkerson said.
As fear of communism swept the nation, the THR founder used the paper as a vehicle to accuse Hollywood writers, producers and actors of being communist activists.
The accused were consequently unable to find work in entertainment and many fled to Europe.
“Most of the people who were involved in the Blacklist are no longer alive, but they were severely harmed. Their families, the people they worked with will never forget this shameful period,” entertainment journalist Jeanne Wolf said. “I think all an apology can do at this point is open some very tender wounds, and, also, remind us that this isn’t a fictional story. This is a reality. People’s lives, careers were completely destroyed.”
Willie Wilkerson called the Blacklist Hollywood’s version of the Holocaust. Sen. Joe McCarthy notoriously led the witch hunt.
He ended the article with the following:
“The U.S. government, which had a great hand in this event, could have prevented it from mushrooming. It did nothing. And no one has ever apologized to the victims of this holocaust. So on the eve of this dark 65th anniversary, I feel an apology is necessary. It’s possible, had my father lived long enough, that he would have apologized for creating something that devastated so many careers. On behalf of my family, and particularly my late father, I wish to convey my sincerest apologies and deepest regrets to those who were victimized by this unfortunate incident.”