Paul Jarrico

Last updated

Paul Jarrico (January 12, 1915 – October 28, 1997) was an American screenwriter and film producer who was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses during the era of McCarthyism.



Early years

Paul Jarrico was born in Los Angeles, California on January 12, 1915, as Israel Shapiro. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, a lawyer, poet and socialist. While attending UCLA, Jarrico joined the Young Communist League, where he became an active member of the American Communist Party. His alliance and association with the party lasted from 1937 to 1952. Jarrico married Sylvia Gussin in 1936. Sylvia's younger sister, Zelma, married screenwriter Michael Wilson in 1941. [1]

Film career

During the 1930s, Jarrico began his writing career. He mostly wrote crime and comedy scripts for lower budget Hollywood films with Columbia Pictures. Among these films were No Time to Marry (1937), I Am the Law (1938), and Beauty for the Asking (1939), starring Lucille Ball. In the early 1940s, Jarrico was sent to Northern Africa and Italy to be a merchant marine in World War II. When he returned home he restarted his career with Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures. His 1941 film Tom, Dick and Harry , starring Ginger Rogers, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.[ citation needed ]

In 1943, Jarrico co-scripted the feature film Song of Russia . The film was created under pressure from president Franklin D. Roosevelt to garner sympathy from the public for the Soviet cause in their war against Germany. Some other successful films written by Jarrico in the 1940s include Thousands Cheer (1943), The Search (1948) and Not Wanted (1949).[ citation needed ]


Jarrico had engaged in a protracted legal battle with Howard Hughes, the head of RKO. In 1950, while working on his newest script for the Howard Hughes film, The White Tower , a friend close to Jarrico gave his name to the House Un-American Activities Committee. Immediately upon hearing the news of Jarrico's subpoena, Hughes dismissed Jarrico from the film. After refusing to testify before HUAC, Jarrico was blacklisted and his passport was confiscated. This made it extremely difficult for him to make films. No American studios were willing to make his scripts into movies, and he could not go to other countries due to his lack of a passport. [ citation needed ]

In 1954, Jarrico went to New Mexico with Herbert J. Biberman, a fellow blacklist filmmaker, where they created the film Salt of the Earth . The film was the only one to be made by blacklisted filmmakers, and therefore became blacklisted itself, making it the only blacklisted film. The film was one of 100 films chosen by the Library of Congress for the National Film Registry in 1992.[ citation needed ]

In 1958, he moved to Europe where he lived for over twenty years. During the 1960s he used the pseudonym Peter Achilles to co-script several films, including Jovanka e l’Altri (1960), Call Me Bwana (1963), Der Schatz der Azteken (1965) and La Balada de Johnny Ringo (1966). He also wrote scripts for television in Europe all throughout the 1960s. [ citation needed ]

Personal life and death

In 1966 Jarrico divorced Sylvia Gussin, his wife of 30 years, to marry a Frenchwoman, Yvette Le Floc'h, from whom he separated in 1977. He then returned to the United States where he met and, in 1992, married Lia Benedetti. He spent the rest of his life in California. He taught courses at the University of California at Santa Barbara and lectured on film theory and the blacklist in the U.S. and Europe.[ citation needed ]

Jarrico died on October 28, 1997, in a car accident. He was returning home after attending events commemorating the beginnings of the blacklist fifty years earlier. He was 82 years old. [ citation needed ]


Further reading

Related Research Articles

Dalton Trumbo American screenwriter and novelist

James Dalton Trumbo was an American screenwriter who scripted many award-winning films, including Roman Holiday (1953), Exodus, Spartacus, and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944). One of the Hollywood Ten, he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 during the committee's investigation of alleged Communist influences in the motion picture industry.

<i>Salt of the Earth</i> (1954 film) 1954 film by Herbert Biberman

Salt of the Earth is a 1954 American drama film written by Michael Wilson, directed by Herbert J. Biberman, and produced by Paul Jarrico. All had been blacklisted by the Hollywood establishment due to their alleged involvement in communist politics.

Preston Sturges American film director and screenwriter

Preston Sturges was an American playwright, screenwriter, and film director. In 1941, he won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the film The Great McGinty (1940), his first of three nominations in the category.

Budd Schulberg American writer

Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter, television producer, novelist and sports writer. He was known for his novels What Makes Sammy Run? and The Harder They Fall; his Academy Award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, and his screenplay for A Face in the Crowd.

Robert Rossen American screenwriter, film director (1908–1966)

Robert Rossen was an American screenwriter, film director, and producer whose film career spanned almost three decades.

<i>Call Me Bwana</i> 1963 film by Gordon Douglas

Call Me Bwana is a 1963 British Technicolor farce film starring Bob Hope and Anita Ekberg, and directed by Gordon Douglas.

William Marshall (actor) American actor, director, and opera singer (1924–2003)

William Horace Marshall was an American actor, director and opera singer. He played the title role in the 1972 blaxploitation classic Blacula and its sequel Scream Blacula Scream (1973), and appeared as the King of Cartoons on the 1980s television show Pee-wee's Playhouse and as Dr. Richard Daystrom on the Star Trek television series. He was 6‘5” tall and was known for his bass voice.

Michael Wilson was an American screenwriter.

Philip Yordan American screenwriter

Philip Yordan was an American screenwriter of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s who produced several films. He acted as a front for blacklisted writers although his use of surrogate screenwriters predates the McCarthy era. His actual contributions to the scripts he is credited with writing is controversial and he was known to some as a credit-grabber. Born to Polish immigrants, he earned degrees from both University of Illinois and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Daniel Mainwaring was an American novelist and screenwriter.

<i>The Woman on Pier 13</i> 1949 film by Robert Stevenson

The Woman on Pier 13 is a 1949 American film noir drama directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Laraine Day, Robert Ryan, and John Agar. It previewed in Los Angeles and San Francisco in 1949 under the title I Married a Communist but, owing to poor polling among preview audiences, this was dropped prior to its 1950 release.

<i>The Las Vegas Story</i> (film) 1952 film by Robert Stevenson

The Las Vegas Story is a 1952 suspense film noir starring Jane Russell and Victor Mature, directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Robert Sparks and Howard Hughes with Samuel Bischoff as the executive producer.

Irving Pichel American actor and film director (1891–1954)

Irving Pichel was an American actor and film director, who won acclaim both as an actor and director in his Hollywood career.

Isobel Lennart was an award winning American screenwriter and playwright. She is best known for writing the book for the Broadway musical Funny Girl in 1964.

Harry Essex American screenwriter and director

Harry Essex was an American screenwriter and director in feature films and television. Born and raised in New York City, his career spanned more than fifty years.

Hollywood blacklist Mid-20th century banning of suspected Communists from US entertainment

The so-called Hollywood blacklist was an entertainment industry blacklist, broader than just Hollywood, put in effect in the mid-20th century in the United States during the early years of the Cold War. The blacklist involved the practice of denying employment to entertainment industry professionals believed to be or to have been Communists or sympathizers. Not just actors, but screenwriters, directors, musicians, and other American entertainment professionals were barred from work by the studios. This was usually done on the basis of their membership in, alleged membership in, or sympathy with the Communist Party USA, or on the basis of their refusal to assist Congressional investigations into the party's activities. Even during the period of its strictest enforcement, from the late 1940s through to the late 1950s, the blacklist was rarely made explicit or easily verifiable, as it was the result of numerous individual decisions by the studios and was not the result of official legal action. Nevertheless, it quickly and directly damaged or ended the careers and income of scores of individuals working in the film industry.

Zelma Wilson American architect

Zelma Wilson was an American architect, practicing mainly in California.

<i>Hers to Hold</i> 1943 film by Frank Ryan

Hers to Hold is a 1943 American romantic musical comedy film and is the third film in the unofficial Three Smart Girls trilogy. In Hers to Hold, Deanna Durbin reprises her role as Penny Craig, who is the only sister remaining at home.

<i>The Cavern</i> (1964 film) 1964 film

The Cavern is a 1964 Italian-German-American war-drama film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. This was his last film as a director. It was one of a number of war movies John Saxon made outside Hollywood.

Edward Huebsch, AKA "Eddie Huebsch" and "Ed Huebsch," (1914-1982) was a 20th-century American Communist screenwriter whose career was cut short by the Hollywood blacklist.


  1. Ceplair, Larry (2007). The Marxist and the Movies: A Biography of Paul Jarrico. University Press of Kentucky. p. 256. ISBN   978-0813173009 . Retrieved 10 January 2018.