18 Blacklisted Actors in Hollywood
The career of a Hollywood actor is like a roller coaster. One day they’re the industry darling starring in critically acclaimed classics and unforgettable summer blockbusters. Suddenly, their careers begin to collapse and Hollywood does the unthinkable. They blacklist the actor from the industry. They can’t land an acting job no matter how much they try. No director, producer, or studio will touch a blacklisted actor. The industry ostracizes them, and their careers are essentially over. Their agent drops them as a client, and people they thought were their friends aren’t anymore. They’re yesterday’s news, and nobody wants anything to do with them. Blacklisted actors find themselves alone in Hollywood with nobody to turn to for help. There are several reasons Hollywood might blacklist an actor. Sometimes it’s for political reasons or expressing an unpopular opinion. Other times, celebrities blacklist themselves with outrageous behavior, racist comments, or violence.
Whatever the reason, these 20 actors have all been blacklisted at some point in their careers.
18 Blacklisted Actors in Hollywood
1. The Hollywood Ten
During the 40s and 50s, McCarthyism took hold of America. Accusations of communist sympathizers and spies ran rampant. The belief was communists would use Hollywood movies to push their propaganda. Therefore, the United States government formed the House Un-American Activities Committee to investigate possible communists or sympathizers in Hollywood.
Ten Hollywood screenwriters refused to testify before the committee or name names. Soon the Hollywood blacklist was in full effect. The studios agreed to ban the Hollywood Ten and other supposed communists from working in Hollywood. Eventually, the blacklist ended in the 60s.
2. Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan is one of the greatest directors of the 1940s and 1950s. However, Kazan’s political decisions overshadow his status as an iconic director. In the 1950s, Kazan agreed to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Unlike the Hollywood Ten, Kazan named names and helped end the careers of several colleagues.
Many commentators viewed Kazan’s On the Waterfront as a response to the backlash of testifying. His decision to testify haunted his career for decades. When Kazan received an honorary Oscar in 1999, the majority of the audience refused to stand or applaud.
3. Dalton Trumbo
In the 30s and 40s, Dalton Trumbo was one of Hollywood’s brightest screenwriters. But it wasn’t long until he soon found himself on Hollywood’s most infamous blacklist.
In 1947, Trumbo was part of the Hollywood Ten who refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. The court charged him with contempt and sentenced him to a year in prison.
He continued to write under a fake name and wrote several classics, including Roman Holiday and Spartacus. He eventually received full credit for both movies.
4. Brad Pitt’s Blacklist
Iconic actor Brad Pitt started his career in the early 90s. Over the years, Pitt has worked with a wide range of actors. According to rumors, Pitt has his own blacklist of actors that he refuses to work with in any movie.
Most people guess that Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, and Angelina Jolie would be the top three on the list due to past problems. However, he also has a good list of celebrities, with legend Sandra Bullock at the very top.
5. Stacy Dash
In the 90s, Stacy Dash had her big career breakthrough with her role in the hit comedy Clueless. However, Dash claims Hollywood blacklisted her for political views in the last few years.
Dash made regular appearances on Fox News, supporting former President Donald Trump and defending many of his controversial comments. Her career suffered a major setback when she called for eliminating Black History Month and B.E.T. Dash has since apologized for her comments during that time.
6. Orsen Welles
In 1941, Orson Welles directed and starred in the groundbreaking film Citizen Kane. Critics often consider Citizen Kane to be the greatest movie of all time. But the film’s enormous success drew the ire of business magnate William Randolph Heart.
Hearst was furious since the main character had a striking resemblance to him. Hearst used his papers to attack Welles and claimed he was a communist sympathizer. This was during the height of Joseph McCarthy’s hunt for communists in America. Welles wisely moved to Europe to avoid McCarthy and his hunt.
7. Lena Horne
Lena Horne rose to the top of Hollywood throughout the 30s and 40s. She became frustrated with being typecast in Hollywood films and focused on her nightclub act. Horne joined the blacklist in the 1950s due to past connections with communist-supported groups.
Horne was one of the few stars that regained employment in Hollywood once the blacklist ended. Later, Horne often discussed her unfair treatment by Hollywood studios during her career.
8. Brendan Fraser
Brendan Fraser’s acting talents, charming personality, and dashing good looks made him a top-leading man in Hollywood. Suddenly, he disappeared from the spotlight despite all of his successes. Fraser claims that the industry blacklisted him after he revealed that then-President of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Philip Berk, sexually assaulted him.
In 2018, Fraser revealed that Berk grabbed him inappropriately at a luncheon in 2003. Berk claims it was just a joke, although Fraser fell into a deep depression. Furthermore, Fraser claims his career stalled after revealing the incident. Thankfully Fraser is currently on the comeback trail and getting the respect he deserves.
9. Carl Foreman
During the Red Scare, nobody in Hollywood was safe from the House Un-American Activities Committee. Not even writer Carl Foreman could escape their wrath. As Foreman worked on the classic western High Noon, the HUAC called Foreman to testify. He admitted to being a member of the American Communist Party but left the organization a decade earlier. He also refused to identify other Communist Party members.
He completed work on High Noon and was then blacklisted. Many critics view High Noon as an allegory for his situation with the HUAC. Eventually, he returned to Hollywood when the blacklist ended.
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10. Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood and wielded enormous power. For years, rumors circulated about Weinstein’s “casting couch.” In 2017, more than 80 women accused Weinstein of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault over 30 years.
The New York Times and New Yorker broke the story, which started the Me Too Movement. Hollywood quickly blacklisted Weinstein from the industry. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences banished him and the Weinstein Company removed him from his own company. Then in 2020, he was found guilty of rape charges and received 23 years in prison.
11. Woody Allen
In the early 90s, director Woody Allen made headlines when he left Mia Farrow to be with her adoptive daughter Soon-Yi Previn. In 1992, Allen and Farrow’s adoptive daughter, 7-year-old Dylan Farrow, claimed Allen sexually abused her. Allen denied the allegations for years.
As an adult, Dylan continues to tell the same story. Allen continued to deny the allegations as well. However, the Me Too Movement brought renewed attention to the claims. Many celebrities that worked with Allen spoke out against him. His career took a major hit, but he’s still managed to make a few movies over the years.
12. Mel Gibson
World-famous actor Mel Gibson’s erratic behavior and inappropriate comments put him on the Hollywood blacklist. In 2006, Gibson made headlines when he went on an anti-semitic rant after being pulled over by the police.
In 2010, he added to his problems when he went on another racist, sexist, and violent rant aimed at his then-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. She also accused Gibson of domestic abuse and filed a restraining order against him.
Gibson’s controversial comments and violent behavior led to Hollywood blacklisting him, but recently several celebs have helped Gibson try and rehab his image.
13. Charlie Sheen
After a series of controversies, Charlie Sheen went from beloved movie star to the blacklist. Sheen famously had a very public feud with his former boss, Chuck Lorre. Several of Sheen’s ex-girlfriends and wives claim he was physically violent towards them. Allegations surfaced that Sheen raped the late actor Corey Haim when he was 13. Sheen denies the claims.
In 2019, Sheen admitted that he couldn’t find work due to being blacklisted by Hollywood.
14. Charlie Chaplin
During the silent era, there was no bigger star in Hollywood than Charlie Chaplin. However, his left-leaning political views caught the attention of the F.B.I. director J. Edger Hoover. Hoover used his power to hurt Chaplin’s image in the industry. Later, Hoover planted stories that Chaplin was a communist sympathizer, further damaging his career.
Regardless, Chaplin was an outspoken critic of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Later, the government banned him from re-entering America and he settled in Switzerland.
15. Paul Robeson
In the 1920s, Paul Robeson was one of the top entertainers in the world. He became a staunch supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and met with President Harry Truman to discuss banning lynching.
In 1949, Robeson gave a speech in Paris urging African-Americans not to support the war against the Soviet Union. The speech resulted in Robeson getting blacklisted in the United States. Stores stopped selling his albums and radio stations pulled his sports. His career took a significant hit and never recovered.
16. John Randolph
During the Cold War, there were allegations that communists had already infiltrated Hollywood. In the late 40s, actor John Randolph and his wife Sarah Cunningham were outspoken critics of the Hollywood blacklist and McCarthyism. They were both instantly blacklisted from Hollywood and New York Radio.
In 1955, Randolph and Sara refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, pleading the fifth. Luckily, Randolph was one of the few that regained employment after the blacklist ended.
17. Isaiah Washington
Isaiah Washington is best known for portraying Dr. Preston Burke in the first three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. During an argument with co-star Patrick Dempsey, Washington used a homophobic slur directed at co-star T.R. Knight. Washington tried joking about the incident at the Golden Globes but made it worse.
Eventually, after months of denying the offensive slur, he apologized. But it was too late and Washington couldn’t undo the damage to his reputation and found himself on the blacklist. Ultimately, Grey’s Anatomy chose to let him go from the series, not that it’s hurt him too much, with Washington still working.
18. Vince Vaughn
The era of the Hollywood blacklist is over, but polarizing political views can still end a person’s career. For instance, Vince Vaughn was once Hollywood’s rising star. However, he’s made a few political statements that ostracized him from the industry.
In 2015, he created controversy when he argued for guns in schools to prevent mass shootings. In 2020, his infamous handshake with then-President Donald Trump created a huge backlash. Vaughn defended the handshake, but it did nothing for his career.
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