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Blacklisted writer gets little time to savor apology

Paul Jarrico spent decades working to restore credits to screenwriters like himself who were blacklisted during the Red Scare.

He finally got an industry apology but had precious little time to savor it.Jarrico was killed when his car veered off the Pacific Coast Highway and slammed into a tree as he drove home from a luncheon honoring the blacklisted writers, who were targeted by the House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1947. He was 82.

Jarrico died at the scene of Tuesday's crash. A day earlier, he and other blacklisted screenwriters received a standing ovation - and a belated apology - at a historic awards dinner sponsored by Hollywood's four major talent guilds.

The apology was the pinnacle of a decadeslong campaign by Jarrico, who was nominated for an Academy Award for 1941's "Tom, Dick and Harry."

Abe Polonsky, another blacklisted screenwriter, said the recognition was a triumph for "years spent surviving terrible conditions."

"He was really enjoying, finally, the victory after all these years. He was enjoying every minute of it," Polonsky said Wednesday.

At the luncheon, Jarrico told a number of funny stories. Then he headed home.

Investigators did not know what caused Jarrico's car to run off the road, said Highway Patrol Sgt. Matt DeMarco. Friends speculated he was exhausted and fell asleep at the wheel on his way home to Ojai, north of Los Angeles.

The luncheon marked the 50th anniversary of investigative hearings on communist influence in Hollywood.