Oscar Politics: Lee Grant

An auspicious Hollywood beginning, with a Supporting Actrtess nomination for her very first film, Detective Story, in which she played a shoplifter, marked Lee Grant's career. Grant was married at the time to writer Arnold Manoff and was a close friend of actor J. Edward Bromberg, both of whom were suspected Communists. Grant did not get any work for ten years because she refused to cite her husband before the Committee. “The Committee wanted me to turn Arnold in,” she later recalled. I simply wouldn't do it. No work was ever important enough to make me turn in my husband!”

Fortunately, Grant was still able to work in the theater–“Movies and TV were closed to us, but not the theatre. But doing a play a year wouldn't support me, so I went to Herbert Berghof and he set me up in a class.” Grant taught drama for many years, during which her attorney worked hard to prove her innocence. Years later, Grant's name was taken off a list with a mild apology from Washington, D.C. Despite this experience, Grant never became bitter, as she told a reporter: “I was lucky, I was only 32 when it was over, I still felt I have time to make up for.” Besides, she perceived it as a “a fascinating war, which fulfilled part of my life. I never would have believed it if I hadn't been part of it.”

Grant returned to films in an impressive role in The Balcony, and has not stopped working since, both as an actress and as director. In the 1970s, Grant won two more nominations, and a supporting Oscar for Shampoo. In her acceptance speech, Grant said: “I would like to thank the artistic community for sustaining me in my wins and losses, and sitting on the curb, whatever it was.” Her remarks were greeted with a huge applause.