Dalton Trumbo, Dead Since 1976, Finally Gets His WGA Credit for 'Roman Holiday'

Mon Dec 19, 2011 3:18pm EST

Dalton Trumbo, one of the best-known figures from Hollywood's blacklist era, has received a posthumous vindication, the Writers Guide of America, West announced Monday.

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The Oscar-winning writer's screenplay credit for "Roman Holiday," the 1953 romantic comedy that marked the big-screen debut of Audrey Hepburn, has been restored.

The full credit to the film now reads: "Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo and Ian McLellan Hunter; Story by Dalton Trumbo."

Hunter, who served as a front for Trumbo, originally received the Academy Award for the "Roman Holiday" screenplay. In 1993, an Oscar was posthumously awarded to Trumbo, who had died of a heart attack in 1976.

Trumbo was a member of the "Hollywood Ten," a group of writers and directors who were blacklisted after being deemed Communist sympathizers. The Hollywood Ten were fired by studio executives in 1947 after refusing to testify to Congress' House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC).

Trumbo was sent to prison after being cited for contempt of Congress and labeled an "unfriendly witness."

Trumbo continued working in Hollywood but had to use fellow writers as fronts or pseudonyms. His Oscar-winning screenplay for 1956's "The Brave One" was written under the name "Robert Rich." In 1975, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recognized Trumbo as the winner of the award.

Trumbo wrote the "Roman Holiday" screenplay while working anonymously in self-exile in Mexico.

Before Hunter was blacklisted, he volunteered to be Trumbo's front. Hunter accepted studio payments for the screenplays to films including "Roman Holiday" and gave them to Trumbo.

In 2010, as Trumbo's son Christopher Trumbo was growing increasingly ill, he and Hunter's son Tim Hunter decided to approach the WGA and request that the "Roman Holiday" screenplay credit be restored to include the name of Dalton Trumbo.

After conducting an investigation by the WGAW, the organization's board of directors voted to restore the "Roman Holiday" screenplay credit.

"It is not in our power to erase the mistakes or the suffering of the past," WGAW President Chris Keyser said in a statement. "But we can make amends, we can pledge not to fall prey again to the dangerous power of fear or to the impulse to censor, even if that pledge is really only a hope. And, in the end, we can give credit where credit is due.

"In acknowledging the contributions of Dalton Trumbo, Ian McLellan Hunter and John Dighton to the writing of 'Roman Holiday,' the WGA has not undone the hurt, but it has, at last and at least, told the truth. That fact is a tribute to the friendship of two fathers and then two sons and to a thing we can hold on to, which is that the friendship was stronger than and outlived the hate."

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