United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-Am.

Investigation of Communist activities in the New York City area. Hearings (Volume Pts. 6-8) online

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Party ?

Mr. Wolfsox. I decline to answer for the same reason.

Mr. Tavexxer. Were you also a member of Actors Equity?

Mr. Wolfsox. I repeat that I think that this committee has no right
to ask me my associations, but I shall answer that. I am a member
of Actors Equity.

Mr. Tavexxer. How long have you been a member ?

Mr. Wolfsox. Since 1927.

Mr. Tavexner. Have you attended any caucus meetings of the
Communist Party within Actors Equity ?

Mr. Wolfsox. I shall refuse to answer that for the previously
stated reason.

Mr. Tavexxer. Are you a member of the Communist Party now?

Mr. Wolfsox. Naturally I am going to answer that by the same way,
and I refuse to testify against myself.

Mr. Tavexxer. Up to this point we have been speaking exclusively
of your profession of stage acting. Have you engaged in television
work as an actor ?

Mr. Wolfsox. Very little.

Mr. Tavexner. What was your last employment in television ?

Mr. Wolfsox. A program called American Heritage, and this I
appeared in at the time when it seemed that the blacklist was about
to be lifted and which has been reimposed by the appearance of this
committee.

Mr. Tavexxer. When did you appear on that program ?

Mr. Wolfsox. Several months ago, and I don't remember exactly
when.

Mr. Tavenxer. Where ?

Mr. Wolfsox. In New York.

Mr. Tavenner. By whom were you employed ?

Mr. Wolfson. I think it was the National Broadcasting Co., but I
am not sure.

Mr. Tavexxer. What was your television participation prior to
that?

Mr. Wolfsox. An interview, I think, once.

Mr. Tavexxer. As an actor?

Mr. Wolfson. I did very little.

Mr. Tavexxer. What was your television participation as an actor
prior to the interview you mentioned ?

Mr. Wolfsox. It must have been 3 or 4 years before that, when I
was in a play, and I don't remember the name of it.

Mr. Tavexxer. I have before me a photostatic copy of the Daily
Worker of January 26, 1950, which reflects that you took part in a
play called Trial of the Traitors. I don't believe you told us about
that. Do you recall it ?

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. Wolfsox. Where was this performed?

Mr. Tavexxer. Capitol Hotel.
(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. Wolfsox. I am going to invoke my constitutional privilege
and refuse to answer the question.



2310 COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA

Mr. Scherer. I am going to ask you to direct the witness to answer
the question.

Chairman Walter. I direct you to answer the question.

Mr. Wolfson. Then I will not bear witness against myself.

Mr. Scherer. Was there anything about your participation in that
play which would tend to incriminate you, witness?

Mr. Wolfson. My position is the same, Congressman.

Mr. Scherer. I ask that he give an answer.

Chairman Walter. He has given an answer, I think.

Mr. Tavenner. Was that play written by Jerome Chodorov?

Mr. Wolfson. May I see that copy ?

Mr. Tavenner. Yes.

(A document was handed to the witness.)

Mr. Wolfson. I shall stand on my constitutional right and refuse
to answer that question for the reasons previously stated.

Mr. Tavenner. I desire to offer the document in evidence and ask
that it be marked "Wolfson Exhibit No. 4" for identification only.

Chairman Walter. Let it be received.

Mr. Tavenner. Are you acquainted with Jerome Chodorov?

Mr. Wolfson. I don't think that you have a right to inquire into
my associations, and I shall plead the fifth.

Mr. Tavenner. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Walter. Are there any questions, Mr. Willis, or Mr.
Scherer ?

Mr. Scherer. I have no questions.

Chairman Walter. The witness is excused.

Mr. Wolfson. May I offer a statement to be filed?

Chairman Walter. Call your next witness, Mr. Tavenner.

Mr. Tavenner. I would like to call Mr. Lou Polan as the next
witness.

Will you come forward Mr. Polan.

Chairman Walter. Will you raise your right hand.

Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Mr. Polan. I do.

TESTIMONY OF LOU POLAN. ACCOMPANIED BY HIS COUNSEL,

DAVID SCEIBNER

Mr. Tavenner. Are you Mr. Lou Polan ?

Mr. Polan. That is correct, sir.

Mr. Scribner. I suggest there be no photographs during the
testimony.

Mr. Tavenner. Will counsel please identify himself for the record?

Mr. Scribner. David Scribner, 11 East 51st Street, New York.

Mr. Tavenner. When and where were you born, Mr. Polan?

Mr. Polan. I was born in Russia, in 1904.

Mr. Tavenner. When did you come to this country ?

Mr. Polan. I came to this country in 1906.

Mr. Tavenner. Are you a naturalized American citizen ?

Mr. Polan. I am.

Mr. Tavenner. Through derivative citizenship ?

Mr. Polan. Through the fact that my father became naturalized
when I was a young child.



COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA 2311

Mr. Tavenner. What is your present place of residence ?

Mr. Polan. In New York City, 45 West 69th Street, New York.

Mr. Tavenner. How long have you lived in the city of New York ?

Mr. Polan. About twenty-odd years.

Mr. Tavenner. What is your present occupation, or profession?

Mr. Polan. Actor.

Mr. Tavenner. How long have you been engaged in the profession
of acting?

Mr. Polan. 35 years.

Mr. Tavenner. Is the name Lou Polan a professional name ?

Mr. Polan. Actually, my name is Louis Polan, but I have adopted
Lou Polan for the stage.

Mr. Tavenner. Will you tell the committee please what your formal
educational training has been.

Mr. Polan. Elementary school, and one grade of high school.

Mr. Tavenner. Did vou begin your acting career in the city of New
York?

Mr. Polan. That is correct, I did.

Mr. Tavenner. About what date ?

Mr. Polan. 1920.

Mr. Tavenner. Did you remain constantly in the city of New
York for a period of time in the practice of your profession %

Mr. Polan. Constantly.

Mr. Tavenner. Except while engaged in trips ?

Mr. Polan. Or on a tour, overseas for two periods. I was in New
York as the center from which I carried on my work as an actor.

Mr. Tavenner. You said you were overseas for two periods. Was
that during the period of the World War II ?

Mr. Polan. One period, yes. I went to the Philippines, and New
Guinea with the USO, in Oklahoma.

Mr. Tavenner. Did you go overseas as a member of the Armed
Forces ?

Mr. Polan. With the USO. Before you go into great detail, I
would like to establish the fact that I am an actor, and I have been in
the theo.ter a long time.

Mr. Tavenner. I am trying to develop that right now, sir.

Mr. Polan. I think we can save a lot of time. I have played with
the outstanding companies of New York; the Play writes Co., the
Theater Guild, and I have played with the outstanding stars of the
American theater, with Walter Huston ; Judith Anderson ; and Otis
Skinner; and Jane Cowl; Lunt and Fontaine; and I can go down
a tremendous list, and I have been with Walter Hampden, and I
played every play he had in the classical repertoire, and particularly
Cyrano de Bergerac, and I have been in Oklahoma for 2 years, and I
have been in stock, and I have been in films, and I have been in tele-
vision and radio, and the screen, and it is obvious that my activity for
the past 35 years professionally has been as an actor.

All of my adult life and a good part of my youth has been dedicated
to the theater, and my name is hardly important to you for the purpose
of your inquisition, and your subpena naming Lou Polan might just as
well have named, "Mr. Theater."

I wish to put this committee on notice that I will not assist you
in your lawless efforts to censor the legitimate theater or control the
entertainment field which, in my opinion, are the real aims of this



2312 COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA

committee. I challenge the legal authority of this committee to con-
duct this star-chamber proceeding. I am going to take an unequivocal
position here, and I am going to give the reasons for not answering,
and I am not going to answer any questions of this committee, and I
wish to state the reasons.

Chairman Walter. You just wait until j^ou are asked a question.

Mr. Polan. All morning you have been saying to people, "Why
don't you mention the reasons you don't want to answer my
questions?"

Chairman Walter. You will answer whatever questions are pro-
pounded to you. Mr. Tavenner, proceed with questioning.

Mr. Scherer. I suggest that if the witness continues in this vein,
and in this outburst, violating the orders of the chairman, that he is
guilty of contempt.

Chairman Walter. We are not concerned about that for the mo-
ment.

Mr. Scherer. I am so advising him.

Mr. Tavenner. At the time you launched upon your prepared
speech, I was asking you about the two occasions on which you were
overseas, and you told us of one. Now, what was the other?

Mr. Polan. I have spent 35 years

Mr. Tavenner. I am not asking you about 35 years.

Chairman Walter. This is not responding. Answer the question.

Mr. Polan. I would like to state, and I will not answer that ques-
tion

Chairman Walter. Why won't you answer the question ?

Mr. Polan. I will now state the reasons why. This committee has
no authority under the Constitution to censor, or control, or super-
vise, or direct the activities of a free American theater, or

Chairman Walter. You have not answered Mr. Tavenner's ques-
tion.

Mr. Polan. Or become casting director for the American theater.
As the Supreme Court has stated, this committee cannot investigate
in that area.

Chairman Walter. We are not making any investigation of what
you are talking about. Answer the question about your other trip
abroad.

Mr. Polan. This committee has no authority as the Supreme Court
has stated, to become a law enforcement agency. That job is as-
signed to other branches of our Government who in turn must

Chairman Walter. Answer the question about your other trip to
Europe.

Mr. Polan. I am trying to state the reasons.

Chairman Walter. You have not given us a legal reason.

Mr. Polan. I may say I worked very hard on these reasons.

Chairman Walter. You didn't work very hard.

Mr. Polan. I did, because I wanted to be succinct and unequivocal
in my position.

Chairman Walter. You are not kidding anybody.

Mr. Polan. I wish you would allow me 3 or 4 minutes to state my
reasons. I don't have much time, and these are my reasons for not
answering. I refuse to answer any questions this committee puts
before me.



COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA 2313

Chairman Walter. If you refuse to answer, we are not going to
hear your reasons.

Are you going to ask any more questions, Mr. Tavenner ?

Mr. Scherer. I ask you to direct the witness to answer.

Mr. Scribner. He is telling you he is not answering.

Mr. Scherer. You know the rules.

Mr. Scribner. And I don't like them, and that is the reason.

Chairman Walter. I want to again tell this audience that you are
here as the guests of the committee, and any further demonstrations
will compel me to order that the room be cleared.

Mr. Tavenner. Mr. Chairman, I think that the witness should be
clearly directed to answer that question. He says he has refused.

Mr. Polan. I will ask to be directed to answer that question, then.

Chairman Walter. I direct you to answer the question.

Mr. Polan. I will not answer that question, and I am now giving
the reasons.

Mr. Tavenner. You are only permitted to give legal reasons.

Mr. Polan. This committee has no authority.

Chairman Walter. That is not the kind of a reason that you are
permitted or should attempt to give.

Mr. Polan. It isn't?

Mr. Scribner. I say they are legal reasons, as his counsel, and if
you will go into his reasons, you will find that he is going into every
issue that the Supreme Court has been considering in the case that
you know about that I was involved in.

Chairman Walter. And has passed upon.

Mr. Scribner. They have not, and perhaps there will be an oppor-
tunity to pass on it, and maybe they will do as they did in the Emspak
and Quinn cases where the Court created limitations on this com-
mittee. Perhaps this will be a limitation on all of the activities of
this committee, certainly in the field of the theater and I am very
hopeful that is going to come about.

Chairman Walter. It cannot come about, and we cannot raise the
kind of a question here that would be passed on by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Scribner. All he can do, and in all fairness, we have known
each other a long time, and I say this most respectfully, and certainly
to the institution of Congress as such, and what he is doing now

Mr. Scherer. I ask for regular order. I insist on the rules of
this committee being followed.

Chairman Walter. I am going to break the rules for one second.

Mr. Scribner. All he wants to do is give what he considers to be
legal reasons. You may not agree with the legal reasons, and you
are an eminent lawyer, and I know that. I am a lawyer, and I say
those reasons are good.

Now, he relies on me, rather than on you, and that is fair. I am
representing him. In doing so, he is ready to take any risks and any
chances that are involved in giving these as legal reasons.

Chairman Walter. Except this is the wrong place to raise the
reason.

Mr. Scribner. He is asking him a question.

Chairman Walter. He can refuse to answer on the grounds he
doesn't have to answer. That is enough.

Proceed. Mr. Tavenner: ask another question.



2314 COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA

Mr. Scribner. You don't know whether he is going to wind up with
the fifth amendment. You wouldn't know that.

Mr. Tavenner. You stated that you made the city of New York
your headquarters and you worked out of here, if I understood you
correctly.

Mr. Polan. That is right.

Mr. Scherer. I still want to know where he went on this other trip.

Chairman Walter. We will get around to that, Mr. Scherer.

Mr. Tavenner. Did you reside in the city of New York during the
years 1939 and 1940?

Mr. Polan. I think that I made it quite clear that I am not going
to answer any questions, and I am not going to answer this question,
and I am not going to answer any question that this committee puts
to me. I would like to continue stating my reasons on any question
relating to the theater.

Chairman Walter. That is all. You have just declined to answer
the question, and now I think at this point, Mr. Tavenner, we ought
to excuse the witness.

Mr. Tavenner. Very well. Could we give him a direction on that
question, first ?

Chairman Walter. I direct you to answer the last question.

Mr. Willis. I think the record should show that I do not agree with
his reasons, and we overruled them.

Chairman Walter. He has refused to answer that question, and
he said that he will not answer any questions of this committee. Now,
I direct you to answer the last question.

Mr. Polan. Without giving my reasons?

Chairman Walter. Where do you live ?

Mr. Polan. I think the rules of this committee indicate that a per-
son can give his reasons for not answering the question.

Chairman Walter. You have been directed to answer the question
about your residence.

Mr. Polan. I am refusing to answer any questions, and I insist

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. Polan. I refuse to answer this question and I would like to
give my reasons.

Chairman Walter. We are not concerned with your reasons for
refusing to answer the question as to your residence.

Are there any other questions, Mr. Tavenner ?

Mr. Tavenner. No, sir.

Chairman Walter. The witness is excused.

Mr. Tavenner. Mr. Phillip Leeds. Is Mr. Leeds in the room ?

Chairman Walter. Will you raise your right hand ?

Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God ?

Mr. Leeds. I do.

TESTIMONY OF PHIL LEEDS, ACCOMPANIED BY COUNSEL,

MARTIN POPPER

Mr. Tavenner. Are you Mr. Phil Leeds ?

Mr. Leeds. Yes, sir.

Mr. Tavenner. Will you spell your name, please ?

Mr. Leeds. L-e-e-d-s.



COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA 2315

Mr. Tavenner. Will counsel accompanying the witness please iden-
tify himself for the record ?

Mr. Popper. Martin Popper.

Mr. Tavenner. When and where were you born, Mr. Leeds ?

Mr. Leeds. I was born in the Bronx, New York City, April 6, 1916.

Mr. Tavenner. Where do you now reside ?

Mr. Leeds. I live in the Borough of Manhattan, New York City.

Mr. Tavenner. What address ?

Mr. Leeds. Excuse me.

(Witness consulted with counsel).

Mr. Leeds. 411 West End Avenue.

Mr. Tavenner. How long have you lived in the city of New York ?

Mr. Leeds. With the exception of the 3 years in the Army, and about
6 months in California, all of my life, on and off, aside from the tours
that I made.

Mr. Tavenner. What is your profession ?

Mr. Leeds. I am an actor, sir.

Mr. Tavenner. How long have you been engaged professionally as
an actor ?

Mr. Leeds. I would say roughly about 17 years.

Mr. Tavenner. Would you tell the committee please what your prin-
cipal stage credits are?

Mr. Leeds. My theater credits, sir?

Mr. Tavenner. Yes, theater credits.

Mr. Leeds. That is excluding television and radio, just the theater
credits ?

Mr. Tavenner. Yes.

Mr. Leeds. I appeared in a show, my first show I think it was, Let
Freedom King. Excuse me, it was, Of Thee I Sing, and I appeared
in Let Freedom Ring, and then I went into the Army, and that was
3 years, and I did a show called Make A Wish, and another show called
Curtain Going Up, and most recently, Can Can.

Mr. Tavenner. Will you tell us what your television credits have
been ?

Mr. Leeds. I have appeared with all of the major, or most of the
major comedy shows, the Milton Berle Show, the Jimmy Durante
Show, the Victor Borge Show, and I had my own show once, or what
amounted to my own show, called Front Row Center.

Mr. Tavenner. What is your latest appearance with television?

Mr. Leeds. My last appearance on television was the Garry Moore
Show.

Mr. Tavenner. When was that ?

Mr. Leeds. That was about May, it must have been the end of May,
of this year.

Mr. Tavenner. Will you tell the committee please what your radio
credits have been ?

Mr. Leeds. I have appeared on the Jane Pickens Show, where I was
for a year, and I appeared on a Maxie Rosenbloom Show, and I have
done odd mystery shows from time to time.

Mr. Tavenner. During this rather extensive career on the stage and
television and in radio, were you a member of any trade unions in those
various prof essions ?

Mr. Leeds. In order to perform your job in radio or in television or
in the theater, you must belong to a union.



2316 COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA

Mr. Tavenner. What unions did you belong to ?

Mr. Leeds. I belonged to AFRA, which was the radio union, and
then I belonged to Actors Equity, and I also belonged to AGVA
(American Guild of Variety Artists), which is the variety union.

Mr. Tavenner. Were you a member of the American Federation of
Television and Radio Artists ?

Mr. Leeds. Yes, sir, and I still am.

Mr. Tavenner. I understood you to say AFRA a moment ago.

Mr. Leeds. AFRA was an organization that predated.

Mr. Tavenner. Did I misunderstand you ? Did you mean AFTRA ?

Mr. Leeds. No, at that time, that particular time when I was in
radio work, I had to belong to AFRA, and when television came into
being, I joined the two unions that were merged.

Mr. Tavenner. With regard to the American Federation of Tele-
vision and Radio Artists, will you tell the committee whether or not,
to your knowledge, there was a caucus within that organization of
members of the Communist Party ?

(Witness consulted with counsel.)

Mr. Leeds. I must say at this point that I have been listening
to this all morning, this particular line of questioning, and I would
like to state how I feel so that perhaps we might, in the interest of
time saving, get on with this hearing.

Mr. Tavenner. If you would just answer that question, it would
be the quickest way to get on with it, as you say.

Mr. Leeds. Except sir, that I consider that you are throwing me a
kind of a curved question.

Mr. Tavenner. No, that is straight from the shoulder.

Mr. Leeds. It might come straight from your shoulder but it kind
of curves when it reaches me, to this degree, sir.

I think anybody who has ever been questioned on the stand could
be made to turn out to be somebody completely different than what he
is, because of the nature of the questions. You cannot answer a ques-
tion "yes" or "no," and really get the complete picture of what is in
the person's mind. That is, the person who is being questioned.

Mr. Tavenner. Do you remember what the question is ?

Mr. Leeds. Yes, I do. You asked me do I know anything about a
caucus, Communist caucus in the unions in which I belonged.

Mr. Tavenner. Yes.

Mr. Leeds. And I must tell you this, sir, that I believe that it is —
I am very proud to be an American citizen.

Chairman Walter. Do you know anything about a caucus that took
place in the union ?

Mr. Leeds. I am afraid sir that I must decline to answer that ques-
tion and invoke the privilege of the fifth amendment.

Mr. Tavenner. My question related particularly to the American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and I want to ask you
the same question with regard to Actors Equity. Were you aware of
the existence of a Communist caucus within that organization?

Mr. Leeds. I must answer in the same manner, sir.

Mr. Tavenner. Did you ever attend such a caucus meeting ?

Mr. Leeds. I must again answer in the same manner.

Mr. Tavenner. Were you a member of the Communist Party at
any time while you were a member of the American Federation of
Television and Radio Artists?



COMMUNIST ACTIVITIES IN THE NEW YORK AREA 2317

Mr. Leeds. I believe that it is the privilege of an American citizen
to believe in Yogi Berra if he so desires, or that lanolin will save
the world. I do not believe that it is your right to ask me any
question concerning my politics, how I worship, and how I think,
and what I read, and if I wear suits with narrow lapels or if I use an
underarm deodorant. I think you are intruding on the privacies, or
my privacy as an American citizen and as such I refuse to answer that
question on the grounds previously stated.

Mr. Tavenner. You are not a member of the Communist Party
at this time, are you ?

JVIr. Leeds. I refuse to answer that question on the grounds previ-
ously stated.

Mr. Tavenner. Didn't you tell the investigators of this committee
when they interviewed you that you did join the Communist Party in
li)40, but that you are not now a member ?

Mr. Leeds. I am afraid that I must refuse to discuss what I say
away from this court with anybody. I may talk to the trees, sir, if I
so choose, and in fact sometimes I do talk to them. I think that is my
privilege as an American citizen. I must decline to answer that ques-
tion on the grounds previously stated.

Mr. Tavenner. If you are talking to the trees, and you don't tell
them any more than you tell us, it doesn't amount to much. You are
unwilling to tell the committee anything within your knowledge re-
garding the activities of the Communist Party within the various or-
ganizations of which you have been a member. That sums it up, does
knot?

Mr. Leeds. Are you suggesting that I am a member of — you are
putting words into my mouth, sir, or you are trying to get me into
a position which I am ill-equipped to face. Will you repeat the ques-
tion?

(Whereupon the reporter read the pending question as above re-
corded.)

Mr. Leeds. If you will ask me a direct question, I will try and
give a direct answer. I don't consider that a question.

Mr. Tavenner. What Communist Party activities have you ob-
served within any of the labor organizations of which you have been
a member ?

Mr. Leeds. I think that I have previously stated my position,
and I don't think that this committee has any right to ask me questions
concerning what I think, and what I saw.

Chairman Walter. Are you going to answer the question or do you
refuse ?

Mr. Leeds. I decline to answer the question on the ground previously
stated.

Chairman Walter. By that you mean the first and fifth amend-
ments ?

Mr. Leeds. The privilege, that is right, sir.

Mr. Tavenner. Were you affiliated with the National Council of
American-Soviet Friendship in 1947?

Mr. Leeds. The same answer, sir.

Mr. Tavenner. During the period in which you were specializing
in acting, did you engage in your profession at Camp Wo-chi-ca, in
New Jersey ?



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