An Isolationist Blacklist? Lillian Gish and the America First Committee

Gary Alan Fine*, Rashida Z. Shaw

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


As it affected the performing arts community, the Red Scare has been examined in great detail.1 Taken together, these studies make clear that external political forces influence the hiring decisions of performing-arts organizations. From the 1930s to the 1950s figures affiliated with left-wing causes and groups found their careers stifled either temporarily or permanently because of their political beliefs. Although attention has focused primarily on institutional pressures from outside the industry on left ist artists, we describe an instance of pressure from within the industry on an artist whose politics were isolationist rather than progressive. In this research note, we present the case of Lillian Gish, describing how interventionists pressured her to distance herself from the isolationism that she had publicly embraced in the period immediately prior to the entrance of the United States in World War II. The attack on those described as “Nazi sympathizers” and their isolationist brethren during 1940-44 has come to be described as the “Brown Scare, "2 playing off the more widely known “Red Scares” of 1919-20 and 1947-54.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSticky Reputations
Subtitle of host publicationThe Politics of Collective Memory in Midcentury America
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781136485657
ISBN (Print)9780415894982
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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