Lester (I) Cole filmography and biography
Date of birth: 19 June 1904, New York City, New York, USA
Date of death: 15 August 1985, San Francisco, California, USA (heart attack)
Lester (I) Cole biography
Screenwriter Lester Cole, who is known in cinema history primarily as a
member of the "Hollywood Ten," a group who defied the House Committee
on Un-American Activities investigation into their political beliefs
who were black-listed by the industry for their defiance, was born on
June 19, 1904 in New York to a Polish immigrant family. His first
desire was to be an actor, and Cole dropped out of high school at the
age of sixteen in 1920. He began writing and directing plays, and in
the 1920s and '30s, he worked primarily as an actor on the stage. He
appeared in Painted Faces and
Love at First Sight but made his name as a screenwriter.
His first screenplay, W.C. Fields comedy
If I Had a Million was made in 1932. In 1933, the first
year of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration, Cole and
eight other screenwriters, including future Hollywood Ten members
John Howard Lawson and Samuel Ornitz, organized the
Screen Writers Guild (SWG), the first and most radical of the Hollywood
guilds. Cole's politics were on the hard left, and he joined the
Communist Party-USA in 1934.
Cole adhered to the Hollywood Ten's common front strategy of challenging HCUA's right to interrogate them on the basis of their political beliefs. Convicted of contempt of Congress, he was fined and served one year in prison. His unfinished script about the Mexican revolutionary general Emiliano Zapata later finished by fellow traveler John Steinbeck for former CP-USA members (and HUAC song-bird) Elia Kazan, who made Viva Zapata! starring Marlon Brando from the script.
After he got out of federal prison, Cole worked a series of odd jobs. He emigrated to London in 1961, but eventually returned to the U.S., where he began collaborating on screenplays using an assumed name. One of his scripts, written under the pseudonym "Gerald L.C. Copley", was made into the popular movie Born Free. He also wrote his autobiography, "Hollywood Red" (1981) and reviewed films for "The People's World" and taught screen-writing at the University of California, Berkeley.
Lester Cole died of a heart attack on August 15, 1985. He was 81 years old.
Lester (I) Cole trivia
- Blacklisted in 1950's; one of the Hollywood Ten.
- In 1933, Cole and nine other writers founded the Screen Writers Guild.
- (1944-1945) President of the Screen Writers Guild.
Lester (I) Cole filmography
|Hollywood on Trial||1976|
|The Hollywood Ten||1950|