Richard J. Collins

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Richard "Dick" Collins (July 20, 1914 – February 14, 2013) was an American producer, director and screenwriter prominent in Hollywood during the 1950s and 1960s. He worked on several notable programs including Bonanza, General Electric Theater, Matlock and Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre. He was married to actress Dorothy Comingore for a number of years in the 1940s before divorcing her for her role during the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigations of workers in the entertainment industry. A factually based biography was made into the 1991 film, Guilty by Suspicion.

Early life[edit]

Richard Collins was born in New York City He attended various schools in New York, Los Angeles and Paris, including the Browning School, Lycee Janson de Sailly, and Beverly Hills High School. Collins also attended Stanford University for a term and a half before moving back to New York with his family. In 1936, Collins took classes for six months with the New Theatre League, where he joined the Young Communist League, the first of many left-wing associations he made over the years. In 1935, Collins returned to Los Angeles where he took a job at Bloomingdale's while looking for a way into the movie and television industry.

Career[edit]

Collins' first position was as a script reader at Columbia Pictures, where he stayed for a few months before he was offered a junior writer position at Fox. During the 1930s, Collins would work for some of the biggest studios in Hollywood, including RKO Pictures, Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros. He wrote several unproduced television and movie scripts, including some that would get him in trouble with HUAC in later years, like Song of Russia. His career suffered during the 1940s while rumors circulated about his former Communist ties, and it wasn't until the 1950s that Collins became involved in some of his most famous productions.

After clearing his name in front of HUAC, Collins spent his time working on programs like Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater, a former radio variety show looking to make the jump to television. He also worked on numerous westerns, the most famous being Bonanza. In the 1960s he worked on the medical program Breaking Point as well as General Electric Theater, which was hosted by a young Ronald Reagan. The final major production that he worked on was Matlock in the 1980s.

HUAC and the blacklist controversy[edit]

Collins' Communist associations were well known by the time he testified in front of HUAC in 1951. He admitted to formerly being a member of the Communist Party, the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League, Writers' Mobilization, the Joint Anti-Fascist Committee, and the Progressive Citizens of America. Despite his past, Collins claimed that he stopped paying his Communist dues in 1939, and even divorced his wife because of her unwillingness to be cooperative during her HUAC testimony. Their drama provided the basis for the 1991 film, Guilty by Suspicion.

Collins became infamous for naming people he knew to be in the Communist Party, even former friends. Despite being heavily involved in the Communist movement in the 1930s, when he attended 4–5 meetings a week, he professed how he no longer followed their doctrine and never saw anything he did as an effort to undermine the security of the United States.

Death[edit]

Collins died, at the age of 98, on February 14, 2013.[1] He is survived by his son Michael Collins.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ronald Bergan (February 20, 2013). "Richard Collins obituary | Film | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. Retrieved February 21, 2013. 
  • Box 4, Folder 3, Richard Collins Papers, Ax 691, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
  • Box 4, Folder 9, Richard Collins Papers, Ax 691, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
  • Box 4, Folder 10, Richard Collins Papers, Ax 691, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
  • Box 5, Folder 6, Richard Collins Papers, Ax 691, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
  • Box 6, Folder 16, Richard Collins Papers, Ax 691, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
  • Box 6, Folder 17, Richard Collins Papers, Ax 691, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
  • Box 6, Folder 18, Richard Collins Papers, Ax 691, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.
  • "The Song of Russia". IMDB.com. July 12, 2011.
  • Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh. The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946–Present. New York: Ballantine, 2007. 137.
  • Rosenzweig, Roy. "Exploring U.S. History | Regulating Television". Center for History and New Media. July 13, 2011.
  • United States Congress. Communist Infiltration of Hollywood Motion-picture Industry : Hearing before the Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty-s Second Congress, First Session, 82d Cong. (1951) (testimony of Richard Collins). Print.