Red Star Over Hollywood

Superb book by Ronald and Allis Radosh.  (Amazon link)

Some of my own research about one of the lesser lights of Hollywood communism:

Plotnick, Irving R.

1901 – 1973

Born in Lodz, Poland. Immigrated U.S. with parents, Natan and Rebekah,1910.

Father had Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry, worked as tailor and pushcart vendor in lower east side of Manhattan to support family.

Irving was educated at Mechanical Arts H.S., Cooper Union and NYU. Awarded MA Lit. in 1925. Worked as reporter for Worker’s Progressive Weekly until 1931. Moved to Hollywood 1932, hired as staff writer for Radioactive Pictures 1933. Joined communist party 1934. Founded Writers and Workers Collaborative with author Lilian Schmeerkase in 1935 (group was disbanded in 1939 due to total dearth of workers and exactly three writers as members). Worked with writing partner Duncan Picolo and producer/director Solly Heimowicz.

Team of Plotnick, Picolo and Heimowicz credits at Radioactive include:

1937 “Song of the Worker”

1938 “Lullaby of the Laborer”

1939 “Annie Got Her Gun”

1939 “Horrors of War – Germany is our Friend”

1940 “War With Germany – What a Good Idea”

1941 – 42  Newsreel series “Production on Parade:”

1943 “Loveletter to Stalin”

1944 “Romeo and Juliet on the Volga”

1946 “Comrade George Washington”

Plotnick fired from Radioactive after complete flop of “Comrade George Washington”

Was briefly married to Lilian Schmeerkase in 1935, 1937 and twice in 1940, no children.

Married Polly Whitebread (b. 1924) 1943, three children.

!947 started writing “Inspector Threadbare” series of mysteries for HiTone Books under name of “Ted Ichneuman”.

1950 Named by Elia Kazan before HUAC. Would have been blacklisted, becoming the 11th member of the Hollywood Ten, but was already considered unemployable.

1956 Fell off a donkey in a freak carnival accident. Spent three months recovering in hospital. While bedridden read Khrushchev’s secret speech about evils of Stalin.

1957 Founded Writers Against Communism(WAC). Shunned by fellow writers and directors, including Picolo, Schmeerkase, Heimowicz and bag boy at supermarket.

1963 – 64 Worked on Goldwater campaign.

1998 Awarded lifetime under achievement award posthumously by Screen Writers Guild.


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