Herbert Joseph Biberman

Herbert Joseph Biberman

Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 29 May 1971 (aged 71)
New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea
Memorial ID 6817557 · View Source
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Motion Picture Director, Screenwriter, Producer. He was one of the "Hollywood Ten", a group of filmakers who were blacklisted for their political beliefs during the McCarthy era. Biberman is best known for directing and co-writing the independent feature "Salt of the Earth" (1954), a powerful drama about striking miners in New Mexico. Born in Philadelphia, he was educated at the university there, at Yale, and in Europe. After several years working in his father's textile business he joined the Theatre Guild and soon became one of its leading directors. He married actress Gale Sondergaard in 1930. In Hollywood from 1935, he had a modest career writing and/or directing B pictures, among them "One Way Ticket" (1935), "Meet Nero Wolfe" (1936), "King of Chinatown" (1939), "The Master Race" (1944), and "Action in Arabia" (1944), and graduated to producing with "Abilene Town" (1946) and "New Orleans" (1947). Some of these had socially conscious overtones. He was also one of the 16 founding members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) in 1936. In 1947, Biberman was one of ten movie industry figures who refused to confirm or deny Communust Party membership before the House Un-American Activities Committee in Washington, DC; he was convicted of contempt of Congress and in 1950 spent six months in a federal prison in Texarkana, Texas. He never worked in Hollywood again. Sondergaard was also blacklisted. After Biberman's release the couple moved to New York City and were active in theatre. He made "Salt of the Earth" on commission from a miners union and shot it on location in New Mexico with fellow blacklistees writer Michael Wilson and producer Paul Jarrico. Lead roles were played by actual miners and their families. The production was subject to harassment from both the government and Tinseltown. Lead actress Rosaura Revueltas was deported to Mexico and filming had to continue with a double for her; footage was developed and edited in secret. Union projectionists were pressured into a nationwide ban of the completed film and "Salt of the Earth" was initially shown in only 11 US theatres, including one screening in Manhattan (where it got rave reviews). In effect it became the only American feature film to be blacklisted during the Cold War scare. It was finally released domestically in 1965. Biberman directed one more film, "Slaves" (1969), a take on "Uncle Tom's Cabin" that was panned in the US but acclaimed in France. He died of bone cancer. In 1992, "Salt of the Earth" was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as being "culturally significant".

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: José L Bernabé Tronchoni
  • Added: 2 Oct 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6817557
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Herbert Joseph Biberman (4 Mar 1900–29 May 1971), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6817557, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.