Norma Barzman, Blacklisted Screenwriter, Dies at 103

Norma Barzman, a screenwriter who moved to Europe in the late 1940s rather than be subject to the congressional investigations and professional ostracism that overtook her industry for a decade, died on Dec. 17 at her home in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 103 and widely considered to be one of the last surviving victims of the Hollywood blacklist.

Her daughter Suzo Barzman confirmed the death.

Mrs. Barzman and her husband and fellow screenwriter, Ben Barzman, were among the hundreds of film industry figures — including screenwriters, actors, directors, stagehands and technicians — who found themselves iced out of Hollywood after World War II because of their unwillingness to discuss their affiliation with the Communist Party or its many associated front groups.

The Barzmans were both longtime members of the party, having joined in the early 1940s. Although their membership officially lapsed when they left the country, they did not renounce the party until 1968, after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

“I’m very proud of my years as a Communist,” Mrs. Barzman told The Associated Press in 2001. “We weren’t Soviet agents, but we were a little silly, idealistic and enthusiastic, and thought there was a chance of making a better world.”

Mrs. Barzman with her husband and fellow screenwriter, Ben Barzman, in Madrid in 1961. When the opportunity arose for Mr. Barzman to work on a film in London in 1949, they expected to be there for six weeks. They ended up living abroad until 1976.Credit…via Barzman family

For a time in the 1930s and ’40s, being a Communist, or just sympathetic to the cause, was considered de rigueur among the Hollywood left. But with the onset of the Cold War, attitudes began to shift. Rumors of a government crackdown percolated.

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