Sunday, February 5, 2017

The brilliant Jerry Fielding

Jerry Trivia: Though never a Communist, Jerry Fielding was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in December 1953 during the anti-Communist hysteria which gripped the rightwing Republicans, particularly in Congress and the FBI, who were in the throes of punishing the many talented FDR supporters in entertainment who had helped to defeat the pro-Fascist isolationists before Pearl Harbor. This was done by smearing them with innuendo and charges of Communism. Fielding's sin appeared to be his Radio Union membership (which was obligatory for all nationally broadcast radio performers) which was in turn one of a dozen or more unions in the Hollywood Writers Mobilzation which was founded in 1941 to promote show business efforts against Nazism and in support of the American war effort. However, Fielding later joked that all the committee really wanted was to get him to name Groucho Marx as a communist, which he refused, of course, to do. He also believed he was being singled out for his integrated bands, using African-American jazz performers in his radio and television music, which was carried live at the time. All integration and equal rights to black performers were deeply offensive to the notoriously racist HUAC members, and to FBI head, J. Edgar Hoover, leading the anti-Communist witch-hunts. Fielding took the Fifth Amendment, refusing to divulge the names of any colleagues who might be suspected of "Communism," doing so knowing that pleading the Fifth would damage his thriving radio and television career, as it did. He was blacklisted by the national television and radio networks, who were being pressured by these same pro-Fascist forces with a similar fate if they 'failed to cooperate." The blacklist destroyed Fielding's embryonic career as an on-screen television host, but the talented musician survived what would be a decade-long exile from broadcasting by returning to his live performing and recording careers, both as a featured artist and a freelance arranger. bye.