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The Ladies that Broke the Blacklist: Madeline Gilford, Lee Grant, and Ruby Dee

Date(s) - Monday, October 15th
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Jewish Museum Milwaukee


Madeline Gilford’s daughter, Lisa, together with Madeline’s grandson, Max Smerling, will take us through a fascinating history of a little-known part of the Blacklist. Max and Lisa will weave a tale of three brave women who risked everything to stand up to the government to defend the Constitution. Their sources draw heavily from Madeline’s book “170 Years of Show Business,” Lee Grant’s memoir, “I Said Yes to Everything,” as well as the research these documentarians have done for their film, “Calling All Women.”

Lisa will also share a first-person account of what it was like to grow up during the Blacklist as a “Red Diaper Baby” – with the FBI following her to school and fearing every knock on the door was the one that took her parents away.

With an eye to the understanding of what was expected from a woman in the 50’s and 60’s, and the challenges they faced, the story of Madeline Gilford, Lee Grant, and Ruby Dee is one that can empower later generations in our uncertain times.

Max and Lisa will play out some highlights of Madeline’s bold and entertaining testimony to HUAC. Lisa will regale us with insider tales of her Oscar-nominated father Jack Gilford and his best friend Zero Mostel (both blacklisted). We will also touch on the fact that the New York Theater Unions protected their members, unlike SAG, run by an ambitious young Ronald Reagan.

The evening will also include rare photos and exclusive footage from their documentary and the star-studded memorial for Madeline Gilford at Sardi’s and we will conclude the night with a stunning video of Ruby Dee reading the poem she dedicated to Madeline and the origin of our film title, “Calling All Women.”

Public Reception: 5:00 – 6:00 pm
Program: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
Cost: Museum Members $5 | Non-Members $8
Walk-ins Welcome

•   The Ladies that Broke the Blacklist: Madeline Gilford, Lee Grant, and Ruby Dee (Monday, October 15)
   McCarthy and the Hollywood Blacklist: Parallel Delusions (Sunday, October 21)
   Victim and Villain: Jewish Responses to the Red Scare (Wednesday, November 14)
   Hollywood on Trial with Tony Kahn (Thursday, December 13)
   The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government (Thursday, January 17)
   Hollywood’s Friendly Witness: Elia Kazan (Thursday, January 31)
Museum Members $15.00 $12.00 | Non-members $24.00 $20.00

Lisa Lee Gilford, Producer/Screenwriter/Proud Red Diaper Baby
Lisa was the only woman Film Commissioner for the State of Colorado, facilitating the making of feature films such as, City Slickers, (with Billy Crystal) Die Hard 1&2, (with Bruce Willis), and Thelma & Louise (Susan Sarandon). She is the founder of American Theater Showcase, a theater company in Aspen, Colorado dedicated to producing American musicals on their way to Broadway. With her son Max she is completing the feature documentary, “Calling All Women.” They also have a very funny script together called “Mile High Fairy Tale.” Lisa, a 1969 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, retains friendships with several Milwaukee natives she met in college.

Max Gilford-Smerling, Producer/Director/Screenwriter/Actor
Grandson of Jack and Madeline Gilford, son of Lisa Gilford, Max attended the elite Boston University Theater Conservatory and is a proud graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy. He has many production credits in film including Lakeshore Entertainment’s “Underworld” series and “Lincoln Lawyer.” Max has recently completed a film festival tour showcasing his latest project “On The Sly,” a music documentary about Sly and the Family Stone which was an official selection at Slamdance, Mill Valley, and many other festivals around the world. Active in politics and non-profits, Max is currently partnered with United Citizen Power to train communities to leverage local politics to give them agency and lasting change.

Sponsored by Esther & Ric Ancel, Amy & Jonathan Ansfield, Beth Bauer, Peggy & Sam Dickman, Linda & Eli Frank, Tee Gee & Alan Levy, Marjorie & Jonathan Margolies, Nancy Pinter & Max Samson, and Judy Winnik. Offered in connection with Blacklist: The Hollywood Red Scare, an exhibit on display at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee, October 12, 2018 – February 10, 2019.

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