John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Time line of events from my book "On the Waterfront: The making of a great American film"


Berlin Airlift (1948-1949) when Soviets cut off ground transportation to West Berlin.

Communists take over Czechoslovakia.

Screenwriter John Howard Lawson refused to co-operate with the HUAC and was sentenced to a year in prison.

Stalin and Tito break

Rod Steiger stars in "Philco Television Playhouse"

Independent Republic of (South) Korea is proclaimed, following election supervised by UN

Alger Hiss, former U.S. State Department official, indicted on perjury charges after denying passing secret documents to communist spy ring

A Streetcar Named Desire wins Pulitzer.

The New York- New Jersey waterfront is the largest, busiest Seaport in the world.

Joseph Patrick Ryan, AKA The King, running the New York docks as the ILA’s International president.

The ILA calls a strike against the powerful New York Daily News, whose management had refused to pay a tribute of $100,000 on newsprint being brought in from Canada.

MGM was on the brink of financial collapse and was running at a deficit.

Father John Corridan operates the St. Francis Xavier Labor School and begins his investigation of the ILA

Wildcat strike on the New York waterfront. Strikes by the membership erupted on the waterfront in Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia

Malcolm Johnson of the New York Sun newspaper, began investigating the waterfront and runs a series on the situation

Albert Maltz sentenced to nearly a year in jail for contempt of the HUAC

Father Corridan gives his speech "Christ is in the shapeup" speech Corridan
At the Paulus hook chapter of the Knights of Columbus in Jersey City

Budd Schulberg meets father Corridan

Attendance in theaters sank from 80 million per week to 60 million per week


Formation of NATO.

Soviet Union tests its first atom bomb.

Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) formed from British, American and French occupation zones.

Screenwriter Samuel Ornitz refuses to answer questions before the HUAC, sentenced to a year in prison for contempt of court.

German Democratic Republic (East Germany) formed from Soviet occupation zone.

Chinese communists win Chinese civil war. Communist People's Republic of China formally proclaimed by Chairman Mao Zedong

Berlin Blockade ends May 12, 1949; airlift continues until Sept. 30, 1949.

ILA enforcer Cockeye Dunn executed by the state of New York.

Johnny Dwyer, a rebel longshoremen leader and student of Father Corridan begins to organize the docks

Sam Spiegel finances We Were Strangers
Malcolm Johnson wins the Pulitzer Price

Congress increased the investigative powers of Special Committee on Un-American Activities, the HUAC.

Kazan’s film Pinky released

John Wayne elected president of the Motion Picture Association for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group that cooperated freely with the HUAC.

Budd Schulberg penned a series of articles about the waterfront.


Budd Schulberg started writing the screenplay for On The Waterfront

Korean War begins when Communist North Korea invades the South.

Senator Joseph McCarthy Begins Communist Witch Hunt

U.S. President Truman Orders Construction of Hydrogen Bomb

Alger Hiss convicted in second trial and sentenced to five-year prison term.

Assassination attempt on President Truman by Puerto Rican nationalists

Opening of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel cut the Red Hook neighborhood
And its 21,000 longshore residents from the rest of the borough of Brooklyn

The waterfront “Mr. Big”, Bill McCormick employed thousands of longshoremen. His estimated cash worth that year was $20 million dollars.  

Screenwriter and producer Adrian Scott refused to testify and was sentenced to a year in prison.

 Waterfront gangster Albert Anastasia orders the murder of his boss Vincent

Father Corridan appears before the U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor and pleads for waterfront reforms.

New York Sun newspaper went out of business.

Alvah Bessie, screenwriter jailed for contempt of Congress by the HUAC

Herbert J. Biberman, director and screenwriter sentenced to 6 months in prison
For contempt of Congress by the HUAC

An official Blacklist is created with the publication of Red Channels, a 213-page book of the alleged Communist affiliations of 151 actors, writers, musicians, and other radio and television entertainers.

Kazan’s film Panic in the Streets is released

I Married a Communist released

Playwright Arthur Miller approached Kazan with the idea of filming a treatment about the waterfront.

Kazan and Budd Schulberg begin work on Waterfront script.

50% of all American households have a TV


Julius and Ethel Rosenberg convicted of passing US atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, sentenced to death

The House on Un-American Activities Committee began its second round of hearings in Hollywood

  Corridan had made a case study of Dorothy Day, a radical journalist who had become a Catholic in 1927 and by the mid- 1930s was the heart and soul of the Catholic Worker Movement, which she promoted through the extremely successful paper, The Catholic Worker, which she sold for a penny a copy.
   Father Corridan and one of his followers, Christy Doran, create The Crusader, underground longshoremen’s newsletter. ILA boss Joe Ryan calls the newsletter a communist publication and commissioned the creation of a counter paper, The Longshoremen’s News

General Douglas MacArthur replaced as US commander in Korea.

 A Streetcar Named Desire earned Kazan another Oscar and made Marlon Brando into a household name.

Color TV Introduced

Film director Edward Dmytryk, one of the original Hollywood Ten, after serving a six-month sentence in prison for contempt of the HUAC, gave the committee 26 names.

Albert Anastasia orders the death of Arnold Schuster for identifying bank robber Willie Sutton on TV

Longshoremen revolt against Ryan's rule and cause a 25-day work stoppage. 

Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo refused to testify before the HUAC and was cited for contempt of Congress and served a 10-month jail. 

The New York Crime Commission holds hearings in the ILA’s activities on the waterfront.

Sam Spiegel finances The Prowler and When I Grow Up

Cardinal Spellman summoned Father Corridan to his office and again questions his role on the waterfront.

Screenwriter Lester Cole sentenced to one year in federal prison by the HUAC

Budd Schulberg testified before the HUAC and named fifteen names

 Actor Zero Mostel refused to testify and is blacklisted.

MGM boss Louis B. Mayer resigned, the company is near bankrupt


First British atom bomb test.

Universal sold to Decca Records

Anti- communist film My Son John released

US test first Hydrogen bomb.

Character-actor Lloyd Gough blacklisted on the basis of alleged communist ties

New York’s governor Dewey orders an investigation of the waterfront.

Bigger screens, 3-D, Cinemascope and VistaVision debuted

Brando and Kazan worked together on Viva Zapata!  Brando gets his second Best Actors nomination.

Governor Thomas E. Dewey to ordered the New York State Crime Commission to conduct a full investigation of the ILA

 New York’s conservative Cardinal, Richard Spellman, who publicly and privately questioned Father Corridan's role on the waterfront.

Screenwriter Arnold Manoff's wife, actress Lee Grant blacklisted for not testifying against her husband.

 Kazan appeared before the House of Un-American Activities Committee

I Was a Communist for the FBI released and wins an Academy Award nomination for best documentary.


Sam Spiegel in serious tax trouble.

The Waterfront Commission of the New York Harbor is created with almost dictatorial powers. The commission banned the shape-up.

RKO Studios had lost $20 million and was sold to the General Tire and Rubber Corporation.

Anti-Communist film Pickup on South Street released

Sam Spiegel finances Melba

The ILA was suspended from the American Federation of Labor

Studios ban film stars from appearing on TV

CBS and NBC inaugurated "hot kinescope" systems, which put programs on air on the West Coast at same clock hour as in the East.

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower inaugurated president of United States

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin dies.

Kazan releases Man on a Tightrope

Korean War ends.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed

East Berliners rise against Communist rule; quelled by tanks

There had been over 100 unsolved waterfront murders, most of them involving labor disputes.

House Committee on the Judiciary holds hearings on the ILA and the waterfront.

Tough Tony Anastasia was under indictment for violating a federal anti-strike indictment.

Academy Awards were televised for the first time by NBC - the broadcast received the largest single audience in network TV's five-year history.

Kazan presents the Waterfront script Darryl Zanuck who rejects it.

Joe Ryan indicted for theft of union funds, charged with 51 counts for having used $45,000 in union funds for personal use.

Average price of movie ticket is cost fifty cents, a substantial amount for a pre-tax average national income of less than $4,000.

Longshoremen vote. ILA wins the election 9,110 votes to 8,791 for the reform movement

Joe Ryan forced out of the ILA

Lee J. Cobb testifies before the HUAC and named names

Sam Spiegel agrees to produce on the Waterfront.

The first issue of TV Guide was published. A year later, circulation was past 1,562,000 copies.


Teamster boss David Beck refused to cross the rebel’s picket line. News spread and on piers up and down Manhattan, and the rebel Longshoremen came back to life.

On the Waterfront opened in October at the Astor Theater to sensational reviews and grossed over $9.5 million in its initial release.

Sam Spiegel finances The African Queen

Actor Lee J. Cobb’s wife suffers a mental breakdown.

An injunction by the National Labor Relations Board forbade ILA from striking or disrupting freight transportation. The ILA leadership responded with violence and sporadic warfare broke out on the docks

French army defeated by Vietnamese by Dien Bien Phu and agrees to independence of Vietnam. Vietnam split at 17th Parallel.

First Atomic Submarine Launched

Frank Sinatra sues Spiegel for $50,000, claiming breach of contract after retracting an offer for the lead in Waterfront

Lee J Cobb suffers a massive heart attack

Five U.S. congressmen shot on floor of House as Puerto Rican nationalists fire from spectators' gallery; all five recover

Army v. McCarthy inquiry-Senate subcommittee report blames both sides

Soviet Union grants sovereignty to East Germany

Eisenhower launches world atomic pool without Soviet Union

Mike Brogan, an assistant hiring boss on Pier 32, murdered by the Mafia

NLRB examiner effectively overturned the ILA elections based on the findings that they were conducted "in an atmosphere of terror, coercion, and intimidation..."

The HUAC left Hollywood after naming over 324 artists as communist Waterfront named for eight Oscar nominations.

No comments: