John Weber

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Tue May 22 17:08:51 MDT 2001

[ from "Ethan Young" <ethanyoung at> ]

John Weber died last week at the age of 91. He was a comrade to many and a
friend to many more, and an unyielding partisan of humanity in the 20th
century. The following description of his life emphasizes his years in the
movie industry. It appears in a pamphlet he published in 1997, "Communist
Influence in Hollywood."
-- Ethan Young

A life-long Marxist currently writing in the field of world politics,
John Weber came to Hollywood with no thought of entering the picture
business.  Trained in national-level communist leadership throughout
the Depression years, he led hunger marches and unemployed actions and
organized unions and strikes. After ten years of this he was assigned
to the special committee leading the Party in Hollywood, mainly to
establish and teach in the new Marxist school.

For two years Mr. Weber provided hundreds of creative and other studio
people with specialized courses in political economy and American
history.  This came to an end in 1940 when the Smith Act made this no
longer possible.  The typical low pay of a "full-time functionary" now
having been cut off, he was simply told to "go into the industry" -
which he did.

Starting at the bottom as an "outside reader" and then an inside
reader, he found himself doing what came naturally: organizing the
Screen Story Analysts Guild. He was then promoted into story editing,
where major studios store the conventional wisdom. After a lapse of a
year and a half in the Army and shortly after he was back on the job
at Paramount, he was corralled by the William Morris Agency to head
its Literary Department.

For five years he effectively advised and promoted the careers of many
progressive writers and actors. The Morris agency had no objection,
knowing that these were often the cream of the talented crop. With a
change in management, however, Mr. Weber was quietly terminated - and

In 1950, in company with a few other blacklistees, he went to France
and then Italy, where he produced two motion pictures. Their
distribution was virtually ruined however, when Roy Brewer told United
Artists "his men" would not project the pictures. Brewer was the
reactionary head of the I.A.T.S.E. [International Association of
Theatrical and Stage Employees] and an ally of the House Un-American
Activities Committee.

Weber and his wife and two daughters returned to New York in 1953 and
found other ways to make a living. Critical of the Communist Party
leadership and finding its policies increasingly irrelevant, he did
not rejoin the Party but remained closely involved on the Left. He is
a charter member of the Committees of Correspondence and the Labor

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