As an actress and
a person who cares deeply for America, I am sickened by the Motion Picture Academy's plan to present an honorary Academy Award to Elia Kazan on March 21.
During the McCarthy era, Kazan
various members of the theatrical and motion picture community. Giving
this award to him is tantamount to saying that what Sen. Joseph
McCarthy, Martin Dies, and the members of the House Un-American Activities Committee did was, after all, not so bad, and let's forget it.
It can't be forgotten, and it
won't, despite Kazan's decades-long insistence that he did nothing wrong; that, in fact, he was being patriotic by informing on his friends; that he would do it again.
I had the privilege to study
with Eli Siegel,
the founder of Aesthetic Realism. Siegel was a person most passionately
devoted to human justice. I once heard him say,
and I love him for it, that if a wrong was done in this world, no matter how long ago, it is still
a wrong, and it has to be seen and honestly regretted, sincerely
revoked, not lied about or smoothed over.
If the Motion Picture Academy
insists on giving this award to Elia Kazan,
and I fervently hope it will not, I make the following proposal: As Kazan is onstage having accepted his Oscar, he should remain there, statuette in hand, while the Academy then
awards honorary Oscars to all the men and women on whom Kazan informed, who were blacklisted, hounded for years, whose careers were ruined, who went to jail, whose lives were ended.
There will be an award, for
example, for J.
Edward Bromberg who, though ill, courageously refused to betray his
and died shortly after; and for Morris Carnovsky and Phoebe Brand,
two people I knew and worked with, who suffered under the blacklist for
decades, and many
These honorary Oscars should be presented, with tremendous remorse and dignity, to their next of kin.
If what I am proposing takes
place, it will
be rather beautiful and will do something, not everything, to
make people in the film industry, the theater world, and America itself cleaner and honestly prouder.
is an Obie