Saturday, 16 August 2014

Lauren Bacall and opposition to nuclear weapons

Although most obituaries of actress Lauren Bacall understandably concentrated on her professional career on screen and stage, she did  have an important political hinterland.

She challenged the attempts to silence leftist voices in Hollywood in the early 1950s, when she bravely gave testimony to the Congressional House Un-American Activities Committee under the red-baiting Congressman McCarthy, despite being barely 20 and a Hollywood ingénue.

Three decades later, she gave very public, heartfelt and enthusiastic support to the US Nuclear Freeze Movement in the 1980s, speaking at meetings and rallies all over the country, helping to make this a key chapter in the history of the anti-nuclear weapons movement. Even in the 1980s, some  critics on the Right in the United States claimed the Freeze was a Soviet front, aimed at freezing the US atomic arsenal, to allow the Soviet Union to outstrip US  nuclear capability.
She had, however, given strong support to Democratic President Harry S. Truman in the 1950s, notwithstanding the fact he had authorized the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan a decade earlier.

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