Spring 2015

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56 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2015 | Snapshot by Valerie Yaros A s we look forward to the second SAG-AFTRA convention, to be held in October in Los Angeles' Universal City, it's fun to look back to the first time the union's predecessor organization AFRA held its first convention in the Los Angeles area: Aug. 23-25, 1946. The location was one that is also significant in SAG history: The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where SAG hired its first employee in 1933. The Roosevelt was also the site of the presentation of the first Academy Awards in 1929. When the convention opened, the United States was just a year into recovering from the cataclysm of World War II. The union was celebrating its ninth year as the American Federation of Radio Artists (no "Television" in the name yet!), and more than 190 delegates — some of whom had never been "west" before — were welcomed by AFRA's Los Angeles Local. The 1945 convention had been postponed, so delegates were eager to get down to some overdue union business. Each delegate received a copy of the 50-page convention program, chock-full of greetings from AFRA officers and sister guilds and unions — including SAG. Humor was supplied through cartoons by members Ray Erlenborn, Doug Young and Daws Butler. Butler, one of the future voiceover greats of Hanna-Barbera animated TV characters, including Yogi Bear and Huckleberry Hound, would also become a mentor to future voiceover actors like Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson on The Simpsons. National officers were chosen on the convention's closing day: Frank Sinatra — whose first solo album was released that March — was elected 3rd vice president, and popular radio announcer Ken Carpenter, a former L.A. Local president, was elected national president. George Heller, AFRA's national executive secretary, delivered a long, detailed report on the previous nine years of AFRA's growth, successes and challenges. In a speech as unfortunately relevant today as it was in 1946, Heller revealed a disturbing trend toward state and national legislation designed to "outlaw union shops and restricting the rights of labor to bargain on an equal basis with employers." He warned that "portents indicate that there will be increasing pressure in the future to legislate against unions, and thus deprive labor in general of its collective bargaining rights, which were secured during the past decade after untold sacrifice and hardship." AFTRA held five of its pre-merger conventions in Los Angeles: 1946, 1953, 1963, 1995 and 2005. The first post-merger SAG-AFTRA convention was also held there, in 2013. CONVENTION 1946: NOT JUST FUN & GAMES! Cartoons by voice artists Doug Young, Daws Butler and Ray Erlenborn from inside the program for AFRA's 7th convention, held in 1946 and below, front cover of the program. Snapshot by Valerie Yaros

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