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Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (4)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (2)

Born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (shingles related following a second stroke)

Mini Bio (1)

Oscar-nominated screenwriter Albert Maltz was born on October 28, 1908 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from Columbia University in 1930, he attended the Yale School of Drama for two years as a tyro playwright. After striking out on his own as a dramatist, he developed sociopolitical plays which were destined to be produced by the left-wing theatrical companies the Theatre Union and the Group Theatre. He also wrote novels and short stories. In 1935, during the Great Depression, he joined the Communist Party.

Maltz labored as a screenwriter for Warner Bros., which had made its reputation in the 1930s for its socially aware dramas. He worked on the classic Casablanca (1942) and other feature films and documentaries during World War II. He wrote the Oscar-winning documentary The House I Live In (1945), a plea for racial tolerance, and was nominated for an Oscar for writing Pride of the Marines (1945).

Maltz wrote an article in 1945 for the "New Masses" that demanded more intellectual freedom from the Communist Party for its members. Pressure from the Party made him recant his position, which had a chilling effect on some other Party members and liberal supporters of the Party's right to exist.

In 1947, Maltz and other Party members (and suspected Party members and sympathizers) were called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) which had determined to investigate "communist infiltration" of the movie industry. Maltz and nine others were cited for contempt of Congress for their uncooperative behavior before the Committee, which included not "naming names" of other communists, and were dubbed the "Hollywood 10". All were fined and jailed, and they were also blacklisted by the American film industry.

Remaining a committed communist, Maltz continued to write, using "fronts" who sold his screenplays and received any writing credit alloted by the studios and WGA. He remained unrepentant about his progressive politics until the end, which came on August 26, 1985 when he died in Los Angeles at the age of 76.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (3)

Esther Engelberg (1970 - 26 April 1985) ( his death)
Rosemary Wylde (1964 - 1968) ( her death)
Margaret Larkin (1937 - 1964) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (4)

Blacklisted in 1950s; one of the Hollywood Ten.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 541-542. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
In 1938, his story "The Happiest Man on Earth" (published in Harper's Magazine) won 1st place in the O. Henry Awards.
His father was an immigrant from Lithuania, and his mother an immigrant from Poland.

Personal Quotes (6)

[on Dalton Trumbo] There is no question that [he] had talent for much greater literary work than the film work that he produced. The reason he never did what he could have done was this obsession of his with making money and living in a grand manner. I never knew what made it necessary for him to have both a house on Beverly Drive and a ranch that he had to build a road to get to.
I consider now that my article - by what I have come to agree was a one-sided, non-dialectical treatment of complex issues - could not... contribute to the development of left-wing criticism and creative writing.
I also read the Marxist classics. I still think it to be the noblest set of ideals ever penned by man... Where else in political literature do you find thinkers saying that we were going to end all forms of human exploitation? Wage exploitation, exploitation of women by men, the exploitation of people of color by white peoples, the exploitation of colonial countries by imperialist countries. And Marx spoke of the fact that socialism will be the kingdom of freedom, where man realizes himself in a way that humankind has never seen before. This was an inspiring body of literature to read.
It has been my conclusion for some time that much of the left-wing artistic activity - both creative and critical - has been restricted, narrowed, turned away from life, sometimes made sterile - because the atmosphere and thinking of the literary left-wing had been based upon a shallow approach... I have come to believe that the accepted understanding of art as a weapon is not a useful guide, but a straitjacket. I have felt this in my own works and viewed it in the works or others. In order to write at all, it has long since become necessary for me repudiate it and abandon it.
When I joined the Communist movement in 1935 it was based upon the belief that mankind's future was to be found there. Certainly, millions who joined it the world over, like myself, didn't join it for profit. There was nothing to be gained out of joining it: It could be time-consuming. It could prevent you from reading a number of books that you wanted to read or go to a number of films because you were doing other things. But there was a belief that you were working with others toward making the world a better place to live in.
There is currently in vogue a thesis pronounced by Dalton Trumbo which declares that everyone during the years of blacklist was equally a victim. This is factual nonsense and represents a bewildering moral position... Adrian Scott was the producer of the notable film Crossfire in 1947 and Edward Dmytryk was its director. Crossfire won wide critical acclaim, many awards and commercial success. Both of these men refused to co-operate with the HCUA. Both were held in contempt of the HCUA and went to jail. When Dmytryk emerged from his prison term he did so with a new set of principles. He suddenly saw the heavenly light, testified as a friend of the HCUA, praised its purposes and practices and denounced all who opposed it. Dmytryk immediately found work as a director, and has worked all down the years since. Adrian Scott, who came out of prison with his principles intact, could not produce a film for a studio again until 1970. He was blacklisted for 21 years. To assert that he and Dmytryk were equally victims is beyond my comprehension.

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