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John Henry Faulk Interview: Education, Career, and the Hollywood Blacklist


John Henry Faulk (August 21, 1913–April 9, 1990) from Austin, Texas was a storyteller and radio show host. His successful lawsuit against blacklisters of the entertainment industry helped to bring an end to the Hollywood blacklist.

While a soldier at Camp Swift, Faulk began writing his own radio scripts. An acquaintance facilitated an interview for him at WCBS in New York City. The network executives were sufficiently impressed to offer him his own radio show. Upon his 1946 discharge from the Army, Faulk began his Johnny’s Front Porch radio show for WCBS. The show featured Faulk’s characterizations that he had been developing since his university years. Faulk eventually went to another radio station, but returned to WCBS for a four-hour morning talk show. The John Henry Faulk Show ran for six years. His radio successes provided opportunity for him to appear as himself on television, in shows like the 1951 Mark Goodson and William Todman game show It’s News to Me, hosted by John Charles Daly. He also appeared on Leave It to the Girls in 1953 and The Name’s the Same in 1955.

Cactus Pryor met Faulk in the studios of KLBJ (then KTBC) where Faulk stopped by to thank Pryor for letting his mother hear his New York show. Pryor had been “accidentally” broadcasting Faulk’s radio show in Texas where Faulk was not otherwise heard. Although the broadcast happened repeatedly, Pryor always claimed he just hit the wrong button in the studio. Pryor visited Faulk at a Manhattan apartment he shared with Alan Lomax, and became introduced to the movers and shakers of the east coast celebrity scene of that era. When Pryor stood by Faulk during the blacklisting and tried to find him work, Pryor’s children were harassed; a prominent Austin physician circulated a letter questioning Pryor’s patriotism; an Austin attorney tried to convince Lyndon Johnson to discharge Pryor from the airwaves. The Pryor family and the Faulk family remained close and supportive of each other for the rest of Faulk’s life.

In December 1955, Faulk was elected second vice president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, to Orson Bean’s first vice president position and Charles Collingwood as the president of the union. Collingswood, Bean and Faulk were part of a middle-of-the-road slate of non-communist, anti-AWARE organization candidates that Faulk had helped draft. Twenty-seven of thirty-five vacant seats on the board went to the middle-of-the-road slate. Faulk’s public position during the campaign had been that the union should be focused on jobs and security, not blacklisting of members.

In the 1970s in Austin, he was also befriended by the young co-editor of the Texas Observer, Molly Ivins, and became an early supporter of hers.

Film

All the Way Home (1963), as Walter Starr
The Best Man (1964), as Governor T.T. Claypoole
Lovin’ Molly (1974), as Mr. Grinsom
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), as Storyteller
Leadbelly (1976). as Governor Neff
Trespasses (1986), as Doctor Silver

Television

It’s News to Me (1951–1954), Self
Leave It to the Girls (3 Oct 1953), Self
The Name’s the Same (21 Feb 1955), Self
For the People (1965), Episode “Seized, Confined and Detained”, as Reynolds
Fear on Trial (1975), Writer, Biopic of John Henry Faulk
Hee Haw (1975–1982), Self
Adam (1983), as as Strom Thurmond
Cronkite Remembers (1997), Uncredited archive footage

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Henry_Faulk
John Henry Faulk Interview: Education, Career, and the Hollywood Blacklist

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