Abraham Polonsky

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly three-hour Archive interview, Abraham Polonsky (1910-1999) speaks frankly about appearing before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1951 (in which he was labeled by Congressman Harold H. Velde as "the most dangerous man in America") and his subsequent blacklisting in the film and television industry. He speaks about working as a writer under pseudonym and through several fronts on such television series as Danger (1950-55) and You Are There (1953-57). He discusses several You Are There scripts he wrote including: "The Crisis of Galileo," "The Execution of Joan of Arc," and "The Torment of Beethoven," all of which reflected in theme, the hysteria of the McCarthy era. He recites the famous tag line that he wrote for the series: "'What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our time… and YOU WERE THERE.'" He talks about the collaboration between You Are There writers Walter Bernstein, Arnold Manoff and himself with producer Charles Russell and director Sidney Lumet. He describes breaking into the business, writing for the radio show "The Goldbergs" and his feature film work as a writer-director, a career he resumed nearly 20 years after his 1948 debut "Force of Evil," starring John Garfield, with 1969's "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here," starring Robert Redford and Robert Blake. Charles Davis conducted the interview in Beverly Hills, CA on July 6, 1999.

"I got a letter from a college about my stuff. The letter said: 'What is the thing you're proudest of?' I wrote back: 'When the U.S. government pushed me, I pushed back.'  And the kid wrote back: 'That's why we love you!'"

Highlights
Writer Abraham Polonsky on The Goldbergs star Gertrude Berg, and how he came to write for the radio version of "The Goldbergs"
04:26
Abraham Polonsky on his encounter with the Blacklist
27:32
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences

Chapter 2

On how at the height of the Depression, he attended Columbia Law School, his introduction to radio and television

Chapter 3

On his encounter with the Blacklist

Chapter 4

On his encounter with the Blacklist (continued)

Chapter 6

On his final thoughts on America, blacklisting, and people he admires
Shows

Danger

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Abraham Polonsky on his encounter with the Blacklist
27:32

Goldbergs, The

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Writer Abraham Polonsky on The Goldbergs star Gertrude Berg, and how he came to write for the radio version of "The Goldbergs"
04:26

You Are There

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Abraham Polonsky on his encounter with the Blacklist
27:32
Abraham Polonsky on his work on You Are There, and his continued blacklisting
Topics

Hollywood Blacklist

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Abraham Polonsky on his encounter with the Blacklist
27:32

Industry Strikes

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Abraham Polonsky on his work on You Are There, and his continued blacklisting

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