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Abraham Polonsky papers, 1946-1999 (bulk 1970s-1990s)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Restrictions on Access
  • Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Related Material
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Abraham Polonsky papers
    Collection number: 2233
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 10.9 linear ft. (18 boxes, 2 record cartons, and 1 flat box)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1970-1990
    Date (inclusive): 1946-1999, (bulk 1970s-1990s)
    Abstract: Abraham Polonsky was a director, screenwriter and novelist. In 1951, he refused to confirm or deny membership to the Communist party before the House Un-American Activities Committee and as a result, he was blacklisted by the entertainment industry. The collection consists of script material, manuscripts, books, and a small amount of clippings, photographs, correspondence, and other ephemera reflecting Polonsky's activities from the 1970s-1990s.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.
    Creator: Polonsky, Abraham

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Susan Polansky Epstein and Henry Polansky, 2000.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Abraham Polonsky Papers (Collection 2233). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.


    Abraham Lincoln Polonsky was born December 5, 1910. He graduated from the City College of New York and Columbia University Law School, and for a while, he taught English at City College. Before trying starting his career in film, Polonsky wrote novels and several short stories. During the 1940s he also wrote for radio and worked with the Columbia Workshop and Orson Welles. During World War II, Polonsky was assigned to the Office of Strategic Studies, a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.
    He moved to the West Coast in the mid-1940s. Polonsky's first two produced screenplays, Golden Earrings and Body and Soul, were released in 1947 and he was nominated for an Academy Award for Body and Soul. Not long after, Polonsky directed his first movie, Force of Evil (1948). During the late 1940s, he also became an editor of the journal, Hollywood Quarterly.
    In the early 1950's, Polonsky refused to testify about his Communist Party affiliations or name party members before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was subsequently fired by Twentieth Century Fox and blacklisted. With only a few film titles to his credit, the Polonsky name did not appear in any film credit again for almost two decades. It was not until 1969 that he directed his second film, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.
    Polonsky moved back to New York, and using pseudonyms wrote for television shows such as You Are There and the series Danger. During the 1950s he wrote the novel, A Season of Fear and co-wrote the 1959 film Odds Against Tomorrow, which was attributed to John O. Killens. Years later, as a leader in the fight to have credits restored to blacklisted filmmakers, Polonsky earned his own credit for that screenplay in 1996 from the Writers Guild of America.
    In the 1990s, Polonsky helped write the McCarthy-era docudrama Guilty by Suspicion and appeared around the country in programs observing the anniversary of the blacklist. He also taught cinema classes at the University of Southern California and California State Northridge. To commemorate his film work, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association selected Polonsky a co-winner of the group's 1998 career achievement award. Polonsky died October 29, 1999 in Beverly Hills, California.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of materials related to the career of Abraham Polonsky. Includes script material, manuscripts, books, and a small amount of clippings, publications, photographs, correspondence, audio and videotapes and other ephemera reflecting Polonsky's activities from circa 1970s-1990s. Script material includes writings for Body of Fear, Childhood's End, Cold War and Force of Evil, among others. The clippings and publications feature writings about Polonksy, his work, or the Blacklist. The books are a mix of publications given to and/or collected by Polonsky.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged alphabetically according to file and publication titles.

    Related Material

    Abraham Polonsky Papers. Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6840361 

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Polonsky, Abraham--Archives.
    Motion picture producers and directors--United States--Archives.
    Screenwriters--United States--Archival resources.