|About the Book|
This is the story of George Heller—the glamour boy of the trade union movement—and his actor colleagues Philip Loeb, Sam Jaffe, and Albert (Van) Dekker. It is also the story of the formation and growth of AFRA (the American Federation of RadioMoreThis is the story of George Heller—the glamour boy of the trade union movement—and his actor colleagues Philip Loeb, Sam Jaffe, and Albert (Van) Dekker. It is also the story of the formation and growth of AFRA (the American Federation of Radio Artists) and its later incarnation AFTRA (the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). Always prominent in Rita Morley Harvey’s account of what happened to the union, to its members, and to Heller and his friends are the shadows cast by the radical right in government and those willing to help in its dirty work.The story of AFTRA begins during the Great Depression, a time of extraordinary trust and camaraderie as well as a time of tremendous hardship. But as American life stretched into the 1950s and the Golden Age of television, the radio and television industry was beset by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and all that he came to represent. While many would like to forget the McCarthy era, Harvey insists that this was a time of stunning consequence in the lives of George Heller and his friends, in the lives of hundreds of others as well, all good, decent citizens, all once-busy, much-admired radio and television performers. Here was a time that bred such bitterness, such hatred—brother to brother, local to local—that it would take more than a generation to put it to rest.Finding little published material on AFTRA, Harvey has based her biography on interviews with Heller’s friends and detractors, accounts in the press of the day, and old union records. Surprisingly, she notes, it was in that least likely place, the minutes of meetings darkened now with age, that the real story—the compelling, sometimes amusing and, often, tragic story—came to life.This spirited biography of George Heller also serves as an accessible inside history of the Golden Age of radio and television through its glory days and its era of shame—McCarthyism and political blacklisting.