Roy M. Brewer, Hollywood labor leader was 97

John Meroney writes at the National Review Online that Brewer, who died Saturday, "never ran a movie studio or directed a picture, [but] for about a decade he had as much sway in the film capital as any mogul or filmmaker." That time was the 1940s and 50s, and in particular he was influential in the Hollywood career of Ronald Reagan. It was Brewer's exposure of communists during the violent Warner Bros strike just after the end of World War II that pushed Reagan toward politics, first as a Screen Actors Guild backer of Democrat Harry Truman for president.

The stands Reagan took, and the lessons he learned from Brewer, paved the course for his election to the presidency of the Guild the following year.

A friendship that would last for decades was also born. In 1948, Brewer and Reagan led the Hollywood push for President Harry S Truman’s campaign. Decades later, when Reagan was president, he wrote Brewer, “Looks like we’re both still up to the battle.” In 1983, Reagan appointed Brewer chairman of the Federal Service Impasses Panel, part of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The two communicated frequently. “Everyday I realize how much we all learned from our Hollywood experience back in the post-war ’40s,” Reagan wrote to Brewer in 1986. “I’ve discovered that a great many otherwise well-informed people are completely naïve and uninformed about the domestic communist network.”

Meroney is working on a book about Reagan’s life in Hollywood.

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