Edward Lewis, ‘Spartacus’ Producer Who Defied Blacklist, Dies at 99
Edward Lewis, an award-winning producer who employed the banned screenwriter Dalton Trumbo to write down the film “Spartacus” after which demanded that he be publicly credited, heralding the top of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist, died on July 27 at his residence in Los Angeles. He was 99.
His dying was confirmed by his daughter Susan.
“Spartacus,” which was launched in 1960, acquired 4 of the 9 Oscars awarded to movies produced by Mr. Lewis, in addition to a Golden Globe. All informed, his 33 films acquired 21 Academy Award nominations.
His producing credit included 9 films directed by John Frankenheimer (amongst them “Seven Days in May” in 1964) in addition to movies by John Huston (“The List of Adrian Messenger,” 1963) and Louis Malle (“Crackers,” 1984).
Together with his spouse, Mildred Lewis, who died in April, he shared an Academy Award nomination for finest image for “Missing,” the 1982 political thriller directed by Costa-Gavras.
Mr. Lewis produced 5 extra movies written by Trumbo, together with “Lonely Are the Brave” in 1962 and “Executive Action” in 1973, however none packed extra punch than “Spartacus,” which was directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Mr. Lewis insisted that the film, which was primarily based on a novel by Howard Quick, one other blacklisted author, was by no means supposed to be overtly political. It however climaxes with what quantities to a 2,000-year-old prequel to the Pink Scare, wherein members of Congress demanded in hearings that witnesses determine colleagues or associates suspected of Communist ties.
Within the movie, the Roman authorities demand that Spartacus’s fellow slaves determine him; as a substitute, in solidarity, every stands to proclaim, “I am Spartacus!” Trumbo later mentioned that the scene evoked the refusal by many congressional witnesses to call names. However Mr. Lewis maintained that “Spartacus” was merely a narrative “about slaves who are overthrowing the yoke of oppression.”
Mildred Lewis had really helpful the novel to her husband, who introduced it to the eye of the actor Kirk Douglas, his boss on the time on the movie firm that Mr. Douglas had established, Byrna Productions. Mr. Douglas would star within the title function.
Dissatisfied with a script by Quick, he and Mr. Douglas employed Trumbo, who had not acquired a display screen credit score since 1950 after refusing to testify earlier than the Home Un-American Actions Committee investigating Communist infiltration of the movie trade.
The script was submitted piecemeal to the studio, Common Worldwide, below Mr. Lewis’s title whereas Trumbo churned out web page after web page, writing in his bathtub with a wood tray throughout the highest. The tray “preserved his modesty and gave him a place to put his typewriter, an ashtray, and an ever-present glass of bourbon,” Mr. Douglas wrote in “I Am ‘Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist” (2012).
“Every time Eddie Lewis told someone he was writing ‘Spartacus,’ it embarrassed him,” Mr. Douglas wrote, including. “The revelation of Dalton Trumbo’s involvement with ‘Spartacus’ could shut down the entire picture. So Eddie continued to play the producer-turned-writer, a charade he hated.”
As soon as Common had invested closely within the movie (greater than $70 million in in the present day’s cash), making it too late to halt manufacturing, Mr. Lewis demanded that the studio credit score Trumbo and pay him.
When “Spartacus” was launched in October 1960, Common Worldwide turned “the first major movie studio to give screen credit to a blacklisted writer,” The New York Instances reported. (Otto Preminger had introduced in January 1960 that his forthcoming movie “Exodus,” launched by the smaller studio United Artists, can be written by Trumbo.)
When Trumbo set foot on the studio lot of “Spartacus,” Mr. Douglas wrote, “the blacklist was broken.”
Edward Lewis was born on Dec. 16, 1919, in Camden, N.J., to Max and Florence (Kline) Lewis. His father labored for his personal father’s furnishings firm; his mom was a homemaker.
Edward attended Bucknell College in Pennsylvania and enrolled in a dental faculty program. However earlier than graduating he served as an Military captain in World Struggle II at a navy hospital in England.
After the battle he moved to Los Angeles, the place he met and married Mildred Gerchik, the sister of an Military buddy. She was a Brooklyn transplant whose mom had been a garment trade organizer. She had one other brother who had fought within the anti-fascist Abraham Lincoln Brigade within the Spanish Civil Struggle.
“He developed his deep and highly effective dedication to social justice below her affect,” Susan Lewis mentioned, referring to her mom.
He’s survived by one other daughter, Joan Lewis, and two grandchildren.
Mr. Lewis was enterprising early on, beginning ventures to supply housing for returning veterans and medical insurance for pets. Each failed, however Hollywood beckoned.
Ms. Lewis mentioned of her mother and father: “In some unspecified time in the future I keep in mind them telling me that they went to a social gathering the place somebody introduced a screenplay in progress. My mother and father went residence and mentioned to one another, ‘We can do better than that.’ ”
They tailored Honoré de Balzac’s novel “The Lovable Cheat” right into a 1949 film, although of the 2 solely Mr. Lewis acquired a screenwriting credit score, in addition to a producing credit score. (In a pan, Selection wrote that it “misses on practically all counts.”)
Mr. Lewis went on to work for CBS producing two of the primary drama anthology sequence on TV, “The Faye Emerson Present” and “Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.” He joined Mr. Douglas’s firm as a author and producer in 1956.
“I couldn’t make a living as a writer, so I became a producer,” he informed The Los Angeles Instances in 1987.
As to what he truly did as a producer, Mr. Lewis recalled a number of examples. On one event he assured animal rights advocates that no potential prey can be injured in a fox searching scene in “The List of Adrian Messenger.” One other time, after the filming of “Spartacus,” he quibbled with studio censors over whether or not a slave’s desire for each oysters and snails implied that the slave was bisexual.
In different ventures, he collaborated with David Merrick on the 1963 Broadway adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and was an Emmy winner as government producer of the tv mini-series “The Thorn Birds” in 1983.
He and his spouse additionally wrote “Brothers” (1977), a fictionalized account of the connection between the black activist Angela Davis and George Jackson, a jail inmate.
After a long time of manufacturing, Mr. Lewis returned to writing, in a single case the guide and lyrics for a musical known as “The Good Life,” which was staged briefly in a Hollywood theater.
“The main character is a man who’s principled, believes in things — and, at 70, remains a militant, optimistic person involved in what’s going on in the future,” he mentioned in 1987, two years earlier than his 70th birthday. “And, you know, that’s been the theme of my own life.”
Sticking to his ideas, as he did through the making of “Spartacus, outlined a lot of Mr. Lewis’s skilled life.
“I’m most grateful to you,” Trumbo wrote him after being recruited to ghostwrite “Spartacus.” “By way of recompense, I want the quality of my work to make you grateful to me. And then, nothing but love, gratitude, money, success, increment earned and unearned, glamour, six-hundred dollar whores and a torrent of good pictures.”
In 1959, Trumbo introduced Mr. Lewis with an autographed copy of his guide, “Johnny Got His Gun.” It was inscribed: “To Eddie Lewis — who risked his name to help a man who’d lost his name.”