AP WAS THERE: Pete Seeger’s HUAC testimony

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EDITOR’S NOTE - On Aug. 18, 1955, The Associated Press reported that Pete Seeger and others testified before a House Un-American Activities Committee hearing in New York investigating alleged communist activities in the entertainment industry. Seeger, then 36, refused to answer any questions about his “associations, philosophy or religion.” That refusal led to his conviction for contempt of Congress in 1961; the conviction was later overturned. Reporting on the 1955 hearing, the AP described Seeger as a “lanky man wearing a brown suit, plaid shirt and yellow tie” who called himself a “banjo picker.” He told the committee: “I have sung to many audiences. I have sung in hobo jungles and I’ve sung for the Rockefellers. I’ve never refused to sing for anybody. That’s the only answer I can give. I’m proud I’ve sung for Americans of every political persuasion.” Fifty-nine years after its original publication, the AP is making this report of the HUAC hearing, which includes Seeger’s comments, available.

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NIGHT LEAD HOUSE COMMITTEE

NEW YORK, AUG. 18 (AP) - A former television producer who said he handled a budget of $100,000 a week refused today to tell the house un-American activities committee whether he was a communist then or now.

He was Tony Kraber, 50, once a Columbia Broadcasting System executive.

The committee, investigating communist infiltration of show business, wound up its hearings in New York by questioning six witnesses today.

Rep. Francis E. Walter (D-PA) said the next hearing may be held in Washington in January.

Walter also disclosed that Elizabeth Bentley, self-admitted former Russian spy ring courier, had been hired by the committee two weeks ago as a paid consultant. He said her job was temporary and would last about another month. Her salary is $500 monthly.

The committee heard 23 witnesses in New York. Only one, actor George Hall, admitted he had a communist past.

The committee encountered a stone wall with all six of today’s witnesses in its probe of red activity in the entertainment world. Besides Kraber, they were:

Ivan Black, 53, a public relations man, who cited the 1st, 5th, 6th, 10th and 14th amendments to the constitution, the most of any of the 20 witnesses heard this week.

Peter Seeger, 36, a banjo-playing folk singer, who offered to play his banjo for the committee, but the committee declined.

Alan Manson, 36, a Broadway and television actor and war veteran. He cited the 1st, 5th, and 9th amendments.

Harold J. Salemson, 44, a foreign film importer and former Hollywood free lance writer.

David Kanter, 46, production stage manager.

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