Bernard Gordon, a screenwriter blacklisted during Hollywood's anti-communist crusade in the 1950s, has died. He was 88.
Gordon died Friday at his Hollywood Hills home after a long battle with cancer, according to his daughter, Ellen Gordon.
"He was highly principled, scrupulously honest," his daughter said. "He could argue anybody under the table."
Gordon wrote dozens of movies but many never carried his name until the Writers Guild of America began restoring credits to blacklisted writers in 1980. About a dozen of Gordon's credits were restored, more than any other writer, said Dave Robb, a longtime friend.
Among them was Gordon's co-writing credit on 1957's "Hellcats of the Navy," which starred Ronald Reagan and his future wife, Nancy Davis.
Gordon's movies included "55 Days at Peking," "Battle of the Bulge" and the 1962 science fiction cult classic, "Day of the Triffids," along with low-budget fare like "Zombies of Mora Tau."
Gordon was born Oct. 29, 1918 in New Britain, Connecticut, and raised in New York City. He moved to Hollywood around 1940. He was declared physically unfit for the military and spent World War II working in the film industry.
He also joined the Communist Party and was active in a labor guild. Gordon eventually quit the party after revelations of Stalin's crimes, his daughter said.
In the 1950s, Gordon was subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating Communist influence in Hollywood. He was never called before the panel, but an acquaintance named him before the committee and he was fired from a studio and blacklisted, along with hundreds of other film industry workers.
Though condemned as un-American, Gordon never thought his political views were undermining the nation, Robb said.
"They were all super-patriotic. They just thought the U.S. was going down the wrong road," Robb said.
For a decade, Gordon couldn't work under his own name but continued to churn out films using pseudonyms. He spent several years in Spain, where he wrote and produced movies. His last movie, "Surfacing," was in 1981.
In 1999, Gordon took the lead in protesting the awarding of an honorary Oscar to director Elia Kazan, who had named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
"He helped to support an oppressive regime that did incalculable damage to America and abroad," Gordon later wrote in the Los Angeles Times.
Gordon wrote two books: 1999's "Hollywood Exile, or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist," and 2004's "The Gordon File: A Screenwriter Recalls Twenty Years of FBI Surveillance," which was based on his 300-page FBI file.
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