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Top 10 Famous People Who Were Blacklisted From Hollywood

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Liam Hillery When and actor or actress is blacklisted, it means that movie studios in Hollywood won't cast them, and no one will is willing to give them a chance to work in a film. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Famous People Who Were Blacklisted from Hollywood! But who will take the top spot on our list? Dalton Trumbo, Mel Gibson, or Charlie Chaplin? Watch to find out!

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How did Hollywood survive a day without these talented people? Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 famous people who were blacklisted from Hollywood.

For this list, we’re considering every form of blacklisting, from McCarthy-era congressional blacklisting to the subtle ousting of stars that buck the Hollywood system.

#10: Mo’Nique

Prior to 2009, Mo’Nique was a relative unknown, boasting small parts in movies and a role as lead actress in the TV show “The Parkers.” But the critically acclaimed "Precious" changed that, and Mo’Nique became a household name. She was instantly beloved by fans, and earned an Academy Award for her performance. However, since the award, she seems to have disappeared; only acting in three small film roles as of 2017. You’d think she’d have great offers pouring in, but that hasn’t been the case. According to Mo’Nique and others, she’s been blacklisted for not playing the Hollywood politics game; specifically around the time of her Oscars win.

#9: Lloyd Bridges

Imagine history had gone differently. Imagine Lloyd Bridges had been permanently blacklisted from Hollywood. Would “Airplane!” have been as funny? What about “Hot Shots!”? Would his son, Jeff Bridges, even be an actor?! Thankfully, Lloyd Bridges wasn’t blacklisted forever, but what did he do to be barred in the first place? Simple. He was affiliated with the Actors’ Laboratory Theatre, which was alleged to have ties to Communism. Bridges testified truthfully before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the Congressional communist hunt committee, and was then blacklisted from Hollywood, but later returned after the FBI cleared his name.

#8: Isaiah Washington

At one time, this “Grey’s Anatomy” star was an up and coming Hollywood favorite. However he’s struggled to get quality work ever since he was evidently blacklisted from the game in the mid-2000s. Washington’s difficulties resulted from an apparent on-set dispute with a “Grey’s Anatomy” co-star. According to reports, Washington hurled homophobic slurs, and after being chastised, he went on to do so again. He was fired from “Grey’s Anatomy” on June 7th, 2007, and while he went on “Larry King Live” less than a month later to defend himself, Washington only seemed to dig a deeper hole. Ever since the controversy, we haven’t seen Washington in much.

#7: Lena Horne

At her prime, jazz artist, pop singer, dancer, actor, and civil rights activist Lena Horne was one of the most active entertainers in Hollywood. She came up in the 1930s as a vocalist, and by the 1940s had worked her way onto the silver screen, signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. However, it’s reported that by the 1950s, Horne had lost her lust for Hollywood, and was looking to step away. Of course, that didn’t matter much, since she was blacklisted that decade for her ties to communism in the ‘40s and was forced out anyway. She couldn’t get Hollywood roles, but fortunately nightclubs welcomed her with open arms.

#6: Jim Caviezel

At one time, Jim Caviezel was one of the most promising names in Hollywood. He had the requisite movie star looks, the camera clearly loved him and his acting chops were solid. But Caviezel’s entire career trajectory changed when he starred in one little movie: “The Passion of the Christ.” Portraying religious figure Jesus Christ, Caviezel actually received acclaim for his performance, but the film angered many in Hollywood for its graphic violence and apparent anti-Semitic undertones. Mel Gibson warned Caviezel about what the role could do to his career, but the actor firmly believed in the movie, saying, “We all have a cross to carry.”

#5: Katherine Heigl

With her work as Dr. Izzie Stevens on “Grey’s Anatomy” serving as a launching pad, Katherine Heigl was sought after by many studios. However, reports quickly emerged that Heigl was difficult to work with. While that certainly didn’t do her any favors, the biggest reason she hasn’t found much work is most likely her badmouthing of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and their movie “Knocked Up.” The film helped launch Heigl to stardom, but she publicly criticized the movie, even calling it sexist. If there’s one way to guarantee difficulties in Hollywood, it’s making enemies of the wrong people.

#4: Tippi Hedren

You just can’t discuss Tippi Hedren without bringing up Alfred Hitchcock. It was Hitchcock who first discovered Hedren. He was watching “The Today Show” and was captivated by her appearance in a diet drink commercial. The two set up a meeting, and Hitchcock signed Hedren to a seven-year deal. And Hedren’s Hitchcock debut wasn’t minor; it was the lead actress role in his acclaimed film “The Birds.” She even went on to be Hitchcock’s muse - until they parted ways. According to Hedren, she repeatedly rejected Hitchcock’s sexual advances and he retaliated by ruining her career out of spite. Hitchcock wouldn’t release Hedren from her contract, but he wouldn’t give her work either.

#3: Mel Gibson

Gibson’s struggles in Hollywood have been among the most public. He was once one of the biggest names in film, starring in movies like “Mad Max,” “Braveheart,” and “Lethal Weapon,” to name a few. His directorial work has been equally impressive. But despite his talent, Hollywood turned on Gibson in 2006. After being pulled over for a DUI, Gibson reportedly spewed a shocking anti-Semitic rant. He’s also been caught making homophobic and other racist slurs. Gibson, however, may be on a comeback, as his 2016 film “Hacksaw Ridge” earned very positive feedback and 2 Oscar wins.

#2: Dalton Trumbo

While more modern examples of Hollywood blacklisting tend to focus on individuals, the 1950s McCarthy Era Hollywood blacklisting was far more wide reaching – and Dalton Trumbo’s story is among the most outrageous. After refusing to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947, Trumbo was not only ousted from Hollywood; he also served time in prison. That, however, did not stop him from working. Trumbo launched a new, subversive career, writing screenplays under pseudonyms and the names of other writers. Two of Trumbo’s un-credited works, “Roman Holiday” and “The Brave One,” even won Academy Awards.

Before we unveil our top picks, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Edward G. Robinson
- CeeLo Green
- Natalie Maines

#1: Charlie Chaplin

Chaplin was the silent movie star. Actually, he’s one of the biggest Hollywood stars ever, which makes it all the more surprising that he was blacklisted from the industry. Like others on this list, Chaplin refused to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, but his punishment was far harsher than others. Since he was not a US citizen, when Chaplin left the country to premiere his film “Limelight” in London, the US Attorney General revoked his re-entry permit, banning Chaplin from re-entering the United States. Not only was Chaplin blacklisted from working in Hollywood; he was banned from the entire country altogether.

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