From the Vault: Dalton Trumbo

Dalton Trumbo was born in Colorado Springs in 1905. He earned his first writing credit for the B movie Road Gang in 1936. He quickly became one of the hottest and highest paid writers in Hollywood, lending his craft to ALL the major studios at the time RKO, Paramount, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, and M.G.M. In 1939 he published his Award Winning Anti-War Novel Johnny Got His gun which was told from the perspective of an injured soldier who would gradually learn that he was deprived of all his senses except his thoughts. He forced his publisher to remove the book from circulation when Hitler declared War on the United States and he would eventually make this into a film in 1971.

When The House Un American Activities Committee turned it s attention to Hollywood, Dalton Trumbo and 9 of his colleagues lives would change significantly beginning in 1947. Ironically, The Special Committee on Un American Activities was formed in 1934 to investigate fascists and pro-Nazi organizations including the Ku Klux Klan. Trumbo was actively anti-Fascist his whole life.

For 13 years Dalton Trumbo would be Blacklisted from working in Hollywood which included being thrown out of the Screenwriters Guild. That meant even if he wasn’t Blacklisted, he wouldn’t be able to work in Hollywood.
Trumbo packed up his family and moved to Mexico where he continued to write for Hollywood secretly passing his writing to fronts or writing under pseudonyms. Trumbo famously wrote in his bathtub with a parrot that Kirk Douglass had given him. Dalton Trumbo would win 2 Oscars during this period, one for Roman Holiday originally give to his Front writer Ian McLellan Hunter and one for The Brave One which he wrote under the pseudonym Robert Rich.

But by 1960, HUAC was mostly discredited and two brave Hollywood giants Kirk Douglass and Otto Preminger Hired Dalton Trumbo to write 2 of the biggest films of the day, Sparticus and Exodus.

The Biographical film released in 2015 depicts the life of Dalton Trumbo starring Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Hellen Mirren, Louis C.K. and John Goodman that reveals many of these facts. But let s hear from Dalton Trumbo himself from Pacifica s 1971 interview by Larry Bensky and then we ll hear from the people who knew him best including fellow Hollywood 10 victim Ring Lardner Jr. Dorothy Healy and actor Kirk Douglass.

But first here is Dalton Trumbo following the release of his new film Johnny Got His Gun. Pacifica s Legendary National correspondent Larry Bensky hosts this 1971 interview.

You are listening to Pacifica producer Larry Bensky in conversation with Dalton Trumbo from our 1971 recording on From The Vault. If you would like a copy of this program or any other program in this series call us at 1800-735-0230 or go to From The Vault radio dot Org. and now back to our program

Dalton Trumbo died of cancer in 1976 at the age of 71. In this next segment we hear from several of the people who knew Dalton Trumbo the best. Fellow Hollywood 10 Blacklisted Academy Award winning Screenwriter (Woman of the Year Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn 1942) Ring Lardner Jr. hosted the Memorial service and introduces the guests including Kirk Douglass Dorothy Healey and others.

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