Writers and Actors Strike July 2023
“Writers are facing the most comprehensive assault on compensation and working conditions that they have seen in a generation. The studios have taken advantage of the transition to streaming to underpay entertainment industry workers, including writers in every area of work. Like too many working people across our economy, as corporate profits grow, writers are just not keeping up.” WGA
The WGA (Writers Guild of America) has been on strike since May 2, 2023. On July 12, 2023 SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) joined them. Here is a link describing the issues for SAG-AFTRA.
Read below about how two of the heroes of my book supported Hollywood Unions.
Bela Lugosi, Conrad Nagel and the Screen Actors Guild
While researching my upcoming book, I learned about Bela Lugosi’s activities leading the Actors Union in Hungary in 1919 during the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic. The book contains extensive information about this period and Bela’s leadership. (If you want to learn more about its publication, sign up for my newsletter.)
I also discovered that Bela Lugosi and famed actor Conrad Nagel had done two movies together. Conrad was the father of one of my oldest and dearest friends, Michael Nagel.
Quote from my book:
Bela and Conrad joined the initial group who formed the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the first union of actors, in 1933. SAG grew to 100,000 members and merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) to form SAG-AFTRA in 2012. Just as Bela had campaigned for better treatment of actors in Hungary, he found similar conditions in the U.S. for those who were not at the top of the star pyramid.
I think Bela and Conrad would be at the forefront of the current protest in alignment with the writers.
Their movies together:
The Rejected Woman (1924) (silent film)
The Thirteenth Chair (1929) (talkie)
Louis Weinstock and Union Solidarity in Hollywood Strike History
Another of the heroes of my upcoming book, union leader Louis Weinstock, lead an effort to support Hollywood craft unions on strike in 1937 and 1945.
In 1937, Boxoffice magazine reported:
A united front by organized labor in this city to support the nine unions on strike in Hollywood was indicated this week by Louis Weinstock, secretary-treasurer of District Council 9, Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators….to take action on a general boycott of theatres as well as an organized picketing campaign at film houses throughout the metropolitan area.
Boxoffice: May 22, 1937. p 19.
Then in 1945, although the painters were in the midst of negotiating an end to their own strike in New York City, Louis again pledged the solidarity of the 8,000 members of the Painters’ Union to provide support for the 15 striking Hollywood craft unions by supplying pickets at theatres throughout the New York area.
Take a look at the clips from:
Motion Picture Daily September 19, 1945 and Motion Picture Daily September 20, 1945