Spring 2023

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92 SAG-AFTRA | Spring 2023 | I t's now a legendary labor film — but creation of Salt of the Earth by Hollywood blacklistees, including Herbert Biberman, Michael Wilson and Paul Jarrico, was every bit as dramatic as the onscreen story it tells, and the SAG-AFTRA archives holds a piece of that story. The production and distribution of Salt of the Earth is a phenomenal tale of refusal to quit, to press on when powerful forces are aligned against you with no guarantee of success. In August 1951, while on vacation in New Mexico, Jarrico discovered the ongoing strike of Local 890 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers in Bayard, east of Silver City, and he had his story. Wilson wrote the screenplay and Biberman would direct. On Jan. 20, 1953, after months of tough preparation, including rejection from IATSE, location filming began in New Mexico. Two days later, local resident June Kuhlmann alerted Screen Actors Guild. A 32-year-old art teacher for Hurley High School, she wrote Screen Actors Guild President Walter Pidgeon that "questionables from the movie industry" were working with "questionables from local 890." Distressed, she wondered if her information should be sent to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (see her letter above). Her letter set communications in motion from the Guild's public relations director Buck Harris to syndicated labor columnist Victor Reisel, who broke the story to the newspapers, and to California's U.S. Rep. Donald L. Jackson — a member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities — who would publicly denounce Salt from the floor of the House of Representatives in February. Biberman's commitment and determination and Jarrico's optimism and resourcefulness pulled them through, and the film was released in 1954 to the few theaters willing to show it. The film's reputation grew over the decades and, in 1992, Jarrico lived to see Salt of the Earth named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Salt of the Earth items from the SAG-AFTRA archives (1953/54). Right, Salt costars, award-winning Mexican actress Rosaura Revueltas and Juan Chacón, miner and real-life president of Local 890 of the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, as pictured on a promotional flyer. Salt of the Earth: A Triumph of Perseverance

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