The House Un-American Activities Committee was set up in 1938 to identify fascists and communists within the federal government. In 1947, after World War II, HUAC turned its attention to the world of the arts, and over the next three years, got a number of Hollywood writers and directors blacklisted for their political views.
Notable members of the blacklist, known commonly as the Hollywood Ten, included Lester Cole, John Lawson, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott and Dalton Trumbo. Comedian and film producer Charlie Chaplin felt so persecuted by HUAC that he emigrated to Switzerland during this period.
Playwright Arthur Miller, then married to blond bombshell Marilyn Monroe, was called up to HUAC and was asked to tell the Congressional committee about other people who attended Communist Party meetings where Miller was known to have been present. He refused and was cited for contempt of congress.
It took until 7 August, 1958 for Miller to clear his name, during which time he continued to produce excellent plays and other works. His best known works include The Crucible and Death of a Salesman.
Not all members of the Hollywood community said “no” to HUAC, by the way. Most notably, Screen Actors Guild president Ronald Reagan was happy to cooperate with the blacklisting committee, reporting actors he felt were disloyal to the United States directly to the FBI with some frequency.
Another future President shows up in this story too: Richard Nixon was a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was quite involved with the conviction of Alger Hiss as an agent of the Soviet Union in 1949.