Monday 07 March 2005
The 1950s saw the publication of a small paperback called
Red Channels: the report of Communist influence in radio and television, price one dollar. The book was nothing more than a frequently misspelled list of over 100 names of show-business people, together with the alleged Communist or Communist-front organisations with which each was said to be connected.
Beverly Maxine Omensky (Beverly Dennis), actress and psychotherapist: born Rahway, New Jersey 12 December 1925; married 1944 Russell Dennis (died 1963), 1967 Jerry Kramer (died 1983; one daughter); died Los Angeles 20 January 2005.
The 1950s saw the publication of a small paperback called Red Channels: the report of Communist influence in radio and television, price one dollar. The book was nothing more than a frequently misspelled list of over 100 names of show-business people, together with the alleged Communist or Communist-front organisations with which each was said to be connected.
Although the careers of Judy Holliday, José Ferrer, Gypsy Rose Lee and the writers Lillian Hellman, Irwin Shaw, Dorothy Parker and James Thurber survived the smears of Red Channels, the career of the actress Beverly Dennis did not. When her name was mentioned in its pages, she was appearing in the successful television series The Red Buttons Show. Before you could say "unemployable", a one-dollar paperback blighted a career that had begun 16 years earlier, when she was only 10.
The New Jersey-born Beverly Maxine Omensky grew up in Chicago, where she became, at the age of 10, a busy broadcaster and stage performer. In the late 1940s she left the Windy City to try her luck in the Broadway theatre. A vibrant performance in a live television play attracted the attention of the veteran film director William "Wild Bill" Wellman, who brought her to Hollywood to play a pithy role in MGM's Westward the Women (1951).
Based on an original story by Frank Capra, this unusual western starred Robert Taylor as an Indian Scout, leading a wagon train full of nubile mail-order females on a 150-mile trek from Chicago to California to help their settler husbands populate the wild frontier. While on the West Coast, Dennis also acted in 20th Century-Fox's Take Care of My Little Girl (1951), an exposé of snobbism in American college sororities.
The following year, the comedian Red Buttons, who had seen Dennis give impressive performances at the Actors Studio, invited her to take over the role of his television wife. She was splendid in the role, a perfect foil for Buttons, and received welcoming reviews. Ah, but the 1950s were what Lillian Hellman called "Scoundrel Time" and, after Red Channels added the name "Beverly Dennis" to its list, the panicky network replaced her at the start of the show's 1953-54 season.
With films, radio and television closed to her, only the theatre was left. In 1953 she acted with José Ferrer in a Broadway production of Charley's Aunt, which he directed and starred in. She also appeared in a revival of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, but was becoming increasingly disenchanted with the world of entertainment. So was her first husband, the actor Russell Dennis; also blacklisted, he eventually became a doctor (he died in 1963).
Beverly Dennis beat the blacklist by outliving it; after studies at New York University and Columbia University, she became a psychotherapist, spending the last 28 years of her life treating clients, many of them film people, in Los Angeles.
- 1 Three of Pope Francis' relatives die in Argentina car crash, including two young great-nephews
- 2 Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
- 3 Reading Festival 2014: Tesco branch replaces salad with Jager and potatoes for vodka as campsite opens tomorrow
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Ferguson protests: 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein ‘arrested’ by police during St Louis demonstrations
Syria conflict: President Assad finally turns on Isis as government steps up campaign against militant strongholds
Michael Brown shooting: Amnesty International sends team within US for first time as National Guard deployed
Iraq crisis: Islamic State's message to America - 'We will drown you all in blood'
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness
Celebrity Big Brother 2014: Audley Harrison meets Kellie Maloney: 'Was Kellie really the best you could come up with?'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
£30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...
£60000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...
£230 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: MI Analyst-Reporting-Bank-Edinburgh...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + bonus+benefits+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...