The Hollywood Ten (also known as the Hollywood 10) was a group of American screenwriters and directors, all then current or former members of the Communist party, who were convicted of contempt of Congress during the hysteria of the Red Scare.
In October of 1947 they appeared before and refused to cooperate with the House Unamerican Activities Committee, which was investigating Communist influence in the Hollywood labor unions. As a result, the United States House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 on that November 24 to approve citations of contempt. The next day, they were blacklisted. They were convicted in 1948.
Specifically, they were cited for contempt for their efforts to disrupt the committee's proceedings by making political statements while refusing to answer questions put to them by the committee concerning their Communist affiliations and activities. Among the questions they refused to answer was, "Are you a member of the Screen Writers Guild?" Their unsuccessful defense was based on First Amendment claims. Following unsuccessful appeals and denial of review by the Supreme Court, they served 6-month (in two cases) or one-year prison terms in 1950.
On November 25, 1947 (the day after the full House approved citations of contempt) they were "blacklisted" by the major Hollywood producers, who declared publicly that the ten would be fired or suspended and not rehired until they were acquitted or purged of contempt and had sworn that they were not Communists. Because of their notoriety, they were unable to obtain work in the American film and television industry for many years. Many continued to write Hollywood films, using pseudonyms or the names of friends who posed as the actual writers (those who allowed their names to be used were called "fronts.") Much later, when anti-Communism became unfashionable, they were often portrayed as heroes for their defiance of the committee.
The members of the Hollywood Ten were
In later life many of the "Hollywood Ten" continued to defend their own and others' membership in or support for the Communist Party.