Faulk, John Henry

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Folklorist, humorist, lecturer, and civil rights activist John Henry Faulk (1913-1990) was born to parents Henry and Martha (Miner) in Austin, Texas. A protégé of J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and Roy Bedichek, Faulk graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where he later taught English. For his master's thesis, he analyzed ten African American sermons, and his research greatly impacted his thinking on civil liberties. Aided by his friend and fellow folklorist Alan Lomax, Faulk entered the entertainment industry in 1946, hosting various radio shows for WCBS in New York City. In 1957, the right-wing organization AWARE, Inc., blacklisted Faulk for alleged communist associations and sympathies. Subsequently, he filed and won a libel suit against the company and anti-communist activists Vincent Hartnett and Laurence A. Johnson. In 1963, Faulk published a memoir of his blacklisting experience entitled Fear on Trial, which in 1975 CBS dramatized, starring William Devane as Faulk and George C. Scott as his attorney Louis Nizer. Despite being vindicated by the jury, Faulk was unable to gain meaningful employment in the entertainment industry until 1975, when he joined the cast of Hee-Haw . He wrote and produced two one-man plays, Deep in the Heart (1986) and Pear Orchard, Texas (1988), to highlight humanity's best and worst traits.

Beginning in the 1970s, Faulk lectured extensively about civil liberties on college and university campuses. Campaigning on his passion for the U.S. Constitution, the environment, and the common man, he unsuccessfully ran against Phil Gramm for a U.S. House of Representatives in Texas in 1983. Faulk married his former student Harriet Hally Wood in 1940. The couple had one daughter, Cynthia, before divorcing. In 1948, he married Lynne Smith, with whom he had three children: Evelyn, Johanna, and Frank Dobie. After divorcing Lynne, Faulk married Elizabeth Liz Peake in 1965 and they had one child, John Henry Johan III. He was close friends with Austin television and radio broadcaster, Richard Cactus Pryor, and was a mentor to journalist and activist, Molly Ivins. Faulk died of cancer in 1990.

Source:

Foshee, Page S. Faulk, John Henry. Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2012. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ffa36 .

From the guide to the John Henry Faulk Papers 20116388., 1881, 1936-, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)

A native Texan and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, John Henry Faulk began a successful career in the entertainment industry as a folklorist and humorist in 1946, when he joined WCBS in New York City. In 1956, Faulk, an outspoken supporter of civil liberties, was elected as Second Vice President of the New York chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). A central plank of Faulk's platform condemned AWARE, Inc., a right-wing organization that specialized in blacklisting entertainment personalities for alleged pro-communist views and associations. His staunch opposition drew the wrath of AWARE, which accused Faulk of consorting with “subversives” and engaging “un-American activities.” Faulk denied the allegations and sued for libel against AWARE; it's co-founder and author of the entertainment publication Red Channels, Vincent W. Hartnett; and anti-communist activist, Laurence A. Johnson. CBS did not renew Faulk's contract in 1957 from which time until the trial ended in 1962, Faulk could not gain employment in the entertainment industry.

Legal action began in the Supreme Court of the State and County of New York in late 1956. Justice Saul Streit rendered a decision upholding the validity of Faulk's charges. AWARE appealed this ruling, but the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court unanimously sustained Judge Streit's decision declaring the AWARE's accusations libelous.

After a long delay, the trial finally opened on April 23, 1962, in the New York State Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Abraham Geller. Witnesses for Faulk included entertainment and news personalities Tony Randall, Myrna Loy, Kim Hunter, David Susskind, Charles Collingwood, and Gerry Moore. During the trial, Faulk’s attorney Louis Nizer proved the existence of the blacklist and its detrimental impact to Faulk's standard of living. The trial ended with Faulk's vindication by a jury award of $3.5 million, the largest libel award in U.S. legal history at that time. The defendants' appeals resulted in the reduction of the damages to $500,000. Citing the First Amendment protection of free speech, the appellants’ attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, but both the petition and appeal for a rehearing were denied.

Co-defendant Laurence A. Johnson passed away the day the verdict was reached, forcing the court to appoint a temporary administrator. Faulk eventually settled out of court with Johnson's estate for $175,000. Co-defendant Vincent Hartnett became destitute during the trial and appeal proceedings, making it difficult for Faulk to collect damages. This led to the 1965 suit John Henry Faulk v. Paul Milton, et al. J, in which Faulk cited the fifteen former members of the board of directors of AWARE, including Hartnett, as liable for the libel against Faulk and therefore required to pay the remainder of the award. The Appellate Division determined the suit failed to demonstrate a cause of action and to meet the statute of limitations.

Faulk traces the story of the lawsuit in his book Fear on Trial, originally published in 1963. The University of Texas Press published a new edition in 1982. In an effort to atone for its complicity in blacklisting Faulk, CBS aired a dramatized version of Fear on Trial, starring William Devane and George C. Scott, in 1975. Ironically, Vincent Hartnett unsuccessfully sued CBS and Faulk for libel over the film's depiction of him.

From the guide to the John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc. Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent Hartnett, Case Records 741761110. 83-009; 87-045., 1939-1982, (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin)

A native Texan and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, John Henry Faulk began a successful career in the entertainment industry as a folklorist and humorist in 1946, when he joined WCBS in New York City.

In 1956, Faulk, an outspoken supporter of civil liberties, was elected as Second Vice President of the New York chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). A central plank of Faulk's platform condemned AWARE, Inc., a right-wing organization that specialized in blacklisting entertainment personalities for alleged pro-communist views and associations. His staunch opposition drew the wrath of AWARE, which accused Faulk of consorting with "subversives" and engaging "un-American activities." Faulk denied the allegations and sued for libel against AWARE; it's co-founder and author of the entertainment publication Red Channels, Vincent W. Hartnett; and anti-communist activist, Laurence A. Johnson. CBS did not renew Faulk's contract in 1957 from which time until the trial ended in 1962, Faulk could not gain employment in the entertainment industry.

The trial opened April 23, 1962, in the New York State Supreme Court building, presided over by Justice Abraham Geller.

Witnesses for Faulk included entertainment and news personalities Tony Randall, Myrna Loy, Kim Hunter, David Suskind, Charles Collingwood, and Gerry Moore. During the trial Louis Nizer, Faulk's attorney, exposed the blacklist as a cynical scorn of basic decency disguised as patriotism. The trial ended with Faulk's vindication by a jury award of $3.5 million, the largest libel award in U.S. legal history at that time.

The defendants appealed to the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, which affirmed the verdict but reduced the damages to $500,000. The New York Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.

From the description of John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent Hartnett Case Records, 1939-1982 (University of Texas Libraries). WorldCat record id: 741761110

Folklorist, entertainer, lecturer, and writer, born 1913 in Austin, Texas.

A University of Texas graduate and English instructor, Faulk collected black folklore and wrote his thesis on black sermons. His career in radio and television broadcasting (1946-1956), was disrupted when he was blacklisted for alleged Communist associations. Faulk sued for libel; the case was decided in his favor in 1962. Faulk has lectured and written extensively on civil liberties and his blacklisting experience and has also been active in civic and political affairs.

From the description of Faulk, John Henry, papers, 1881, 1936-2010 (University of Texas Libraries). WorldCat record id: 20116388

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn New York Times Company records. A.M. Rosenthal papers, 1955-1994, 1967-1986 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Paul Robeson award ceremonies collection [sound recording], 1978-1996 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Wershba, Joseph. Wershba, Joseph and Shirley, papers, 1936-1993. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn David McHam Papers AR. 2004. 025., 1971-2003 Austin History Center, Austin Public Library..
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Barr, Stringfellow, 1897-1982. Papers of Stringfellow Barr [manuscript] 1918-1964. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Fagan Dickson papers MS 281., 1950-1978 Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX
referencedIn J. R. Parten Papers 90-208; 90-285; 97-044; 98-290; 98-325; 2009-317; 2011-106., 1890-1899, 1913-1992, 2009 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
referencedIn Judge Woodrow Seals Papers MSS 0414., 1941-1990, 1961-1990 Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library,
referencedIn Roy Bedichek Papers, 1897-1959 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas
referencedIn Kennedy, Stetson,. Stetson Kennedy oral history interview, 1988 Oct. 7. Georgia State University
referencedIn Biography -- Faulk, John Henry. Daughters of the Republic of Texas Library
referencedIn Inventory of the William A. Owens Papers (Part Three): LIT/Owens MSS 00090., 1964-1988 Cushing Memorial Library,
referencedIn J. Walter Thompson Company. Edward G. Wilson Papers, 1906-1991, bulk 1946-1971 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Papers, 1919-1991 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Molly Ivins Papers 30455275., 1936, 1944 -2008 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
referencedIn Pope, John M. Pope, John M., papers, 1950-1996. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Kuehne, John Matthias, 1872-1960. John Matthias Kuehne Photograph Collection, 1894-1950. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn UT Folklore Center Archives, ca. 1928-1981 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
referencedIn Ivins, Molly. Ivins, Molly, papers, 1936, 1944-2008. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Parten, J. R. (Jubal Richard), 1896-1992. Parten, J. R., papers, 1890-1899, 1913-1992, 2009. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Powell, Dawn. Dawn Powell Papers, 1910-1998. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Bessie, Alvah Cecil, 1904-1985. Papers, 1929-1991. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Actors' Equity Association. Paul Robeson award ceremonies collection [sound recording], 1978-1996. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn J. Walter Thompson Company. Edward G. Wilson papers, 1906-1991 bulk 1946-1971. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
referencedIn Durr, Virginia Foster. Papers: Series I, 1919-1988 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Jay Milner Papers, 1960-1993 Southwestern Writers Collection, Special Collections, Alkek Library, Texas State University-San Marcos
referencedIn Kuehne (John Matthias) Photograph Collection, 1894-1950 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
referencedIn Wood, Hally. Wood, Harriet "Hally", papers, 1918-1990. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Hackberry Ramblers;. Oral history interview with the Hackberry Ramblers; 1993 December 10; interview conducted by John W. Rumble. Country Music Foundation, Library & Media Center
referencedIn John M. Pope Papers 91-345;91-346;92-383; 94-314; 96-094; 97-005. 76707277., 1950-1996 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
creatorOf Humphrey, William. William Humphrey Papers, 1932-1992 (bulk 1944-1992). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf John Henry Faulk Papers 20116388., 1881, 1936- Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
creatorOf Faulk, John Henry. Faulk, John Henry, papers, 1881, 1936-2010 University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn John Henry Faulk Photographs 2010-267., 1987 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
creatorOf King, Larry, 1933-. Selected radio programs from The Larry King show [sound recording]. Library of Congress
referencedIn Bedichek, Roy, 1878-1959. Bedichek, Roy, photographs 1898-1957. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn LEE (RUSSELL) PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION 38850253., 1935-1977 Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin
referencedIn Wershba (Joseph and Shirley) Papers, 96-141; 96-331; 98-276; 2002-019; 2002-189; 2004-066., 1936-2001 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
creatorOf Milner, Jay Dunston, 1923-. Jay Milner Papers, 1960-1993. Texas State University-San Marcos, Albert B. Alkek Library
referencedIn Fred Gipson Papers TXRC95-A71., 1920-1973 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Henry Nash Smith Papers, 1927-1986 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Lee, Russell, 1903-1986. Lee, Russell, photograph collection, 1935-1977. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Papers, 1911-1999 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Faulk, John Henry. Letter : [Paterson, N. J.] to Dr. [Rudolph] Willard, 1949 Nov. 8. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc. Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent Hartnett, Case Records 741761110. 83-009; 87-045., 1939-1982 Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin .
creatorOf Gipson, Fred, 1908-1973. Papers, 1920-1973. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Emmerson, Tom. Faulk, John Henry, photographs, 1987. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Bedichek, Roy, 1878-1959. Bedichek, Roy, papers, 1897-1959. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Faulk, John Henry. John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent Hartnett Case Records, 1939-1982 University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Judge Woodrow Seals Papers MSS 0414., 1941-1990, 1961-1990 Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library,
creatorOf Faulk, John Henry. Oral history interview with John Henry Faulk, 1981 June 9. University of North Texas Library, UNT
referencedIn Burton, Michael C. Burton, Michael C., papers, 1951-1997. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn William Humphrey Papers TXRC01-A2., 1932-1992, n.d. (bulk 1944-1992) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Actors' Equity Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Actors' Equity Association. Paul Robeson Award corporateBody
associatedWith American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. corporateBody
associatedWith AWARE, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Barr, Stringfellow, 1897-1982. person
associatedWith Bedichek, Roy, 1878-1959 person
associatedWith Bessie, Alvah Cecil, 1904-1985. person
associatedWith Brewer, John Mason, 1896-1975 person
associatedWith Burton, Michael C. person
associatedWith CBS/Broadcast Group (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Committee to Investigate Assassinations. corporateBody
associatedWith Dickson, Fagan, 1904-1977 person
associatedWith Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964 person
associatedWith Durr, Virginia Foster. person
associatedWith Emmerson, Tom person
associatedWith Emmerson, Tom. person
associatedWith Gibbons, Joe Samuel person
associatedWith Gibbons, Joe Samuel person
associatedWith Gipson, Fred, 1908- person
associatedWith Gramm, Phil. person
associatedWith Gramm, Phil. person
associatedWith Hackberry Ramblers; corporateBody
associatedWith Hartnett, Vincent person
associatedWith Hartnett, Vincent. person
correspondedWith Hiss, Alger, 1904-1996 person
associatedWith Humphrey, William. person
associatedWith Humphrey, William, 1924-1997 person
associatedWith Ivins, Molly. person
associatedWith Ivins, Molly (Mary Tyler) person
associatedWith Johnson, Laurence A. person
associatedWith Johnson, Laurence A. person
associatedWith Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973 person
associatedWith J. Walter Thompson Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Kennedy, Stetson, person
associatedWith King, Larry, 1933- person
associatedWith Kuehne (John Matthias) person
associatedWith Kuehne, John Matthias, 1872-1960. person
associatedWith Leadbelly, 1885-1949 person
associatedWith Lee, Russell, 1903- person
associatedWith Lee, Russell, 1903-1986. person
associatedWith Lomax, Alan, 1915- person
associatedWith Lomax, Alan, 1915-2002. person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith McHam, David person
correspondedWith Milner, Jay Dunston, 1923- person
associatedWith Nizer, Louis, 1902-1994 person
associatedWith North Texas State University. Oral History Collection. corporateBody
correspondedWith Owens, William A., 1905- person
associatedWith Parten, J. R. (Jubal Richard) person
associatedWith Parten, J. R. (Jubal Richard), 1896-1992 person
associatedWith Pope, John M. person
associatedWith Pope, John Marvin person
associatedWith Powell, Dawn. person
associatedWith Pryor, Cactus. person
associatedWith Pryor, Cactus. person
associatedWith Rosenthal, A. M. (Abraham Michael), 1922-2006 person
associatedWith Seals, Woodrow Bradley person
associatedWith Seals, Woodrow Bradley person
associatedWith Smallwood, J. B. person
correspondedWith Smith, Henry Nash person
associatedWith Texaco, inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Texas Environmental Issues Oral History Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Texas Municipal Power Agency. corporateBody
associatedWith Trinity River Authority of Texas. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Congress. House. Committee on Un-American Activities. corporateBody
associatedWith UT Folklore Center corporateBody
associatedWith Webb, Walter Prescott, 1888-1963. person
associatedWith Wershba, Joseph. person
associatedWith Wershba, Joseph and Wershba, Shirley person
associatedWith Willard, Rudolph, 1893-. person
associatedWith Wood, Hally. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
Austin (Tex.)
United States
New York (N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
Trinity River (Tex.)
United States
Trinity River (Tex.)
Texas
Austin (Tex.)
Austin (Tex.)
United States
Texas
Texas--Grimes County
United States
Houston (Tex.)
Subject
Anti-nuclear movement
Blacklisting of entertainers--United States
Blacklisting of entertainers
Anti-communist movements
Trials (Libel)
Liberty--United States
Folklore
Blacklisting of entertainers--United States--History--Sources
African Americans--Social life and customs
Trials (Libel)--New York (State)--New York
Antinuclear movement--Texas
Environmental protection
Strip mining--Law and legislation--Texas--Grimes County
Blacklisting of entertainers--History--Sources
Water resources development
Radio broadcasting--Archival resources
Liberty
Anti-communism--United States--1950-1960
Anti-communist movements--United States
Entertainers--United States
Entertainers
African Americans--Social life and customs--Texas
Water resources development--Texas
Strip mining--Law and legislation
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1913-08-21

Death 1990-04-09

Information

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