SAG Timeline

days since last accident 165


  • British-born stage comedian William Davidge (in America since 1850) chairs a meeting in New York of the Actors' Protective Union, formed due to the "long-existing necessity for an equitable status" for actors, along with the wish to establish a standard minimum salary for players.


  • April 25: First stagehands union, the Theatrical Protective Union, No. 1, founded.
  • June 29: Congress approves incorporation of trade unions.
  • December 8: American Federation of Labor founded.


  • Thomas Edison granted a patent for his first moving-picture camera, the Kinetoscope.


  • National Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (becomes International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees in 1902) receives American Federation of Labor charter.
  • Actors' Protective Union (a different organization than that of 1864) organized in May.


  • American Federation of Labor grants its first actors' union charter, to Actors National Protective Union.
  • January 4: Actors Society of America formally organized.
  • May 19: Major theatrical producers Al Hayman of San Francisco, Mark Klaw, Abe Erlanger and Charles Frohman of New York, and Samuel F. Nixon-Nirdlinger and partner J. Fred Zimmerman of Philadelphia, join forces to create a Theatrical Syndicate, giving them unprecedented control of theater bookings coast to coast. This took the theatrical business completely out of the hands of the actor-managers, who had their own companies, including Francis Wilson, who would become the first president of Actors' Equity in 1913.
  • American Federation of Musicians founded.


  • Hebrew Actors Union founded by Jewish labor leader Joseph Barondess.


  • White Rats of America, composed largely of vaudeville performers, founded by comic monologist George Fuller Golden, the grandfather of future film actor and Screen Actors Guild board member Harry Carey Jr. Membership restricted to white males only. 


  • March 23: Future Screen Actors Guild cofounder and first president Ralph Morgan makes his professional stage debut in Love’s Comedy at Henry B. Harris’ Hudson Theatre.


  • July 2: New York Legislature enacts a law regulating the amount of agents’ commission and requiring all employment agencies, including talent agencies, to submit copies of their contracts to the New York license commissioner for examination. White Rats of America lobbied hard for the bill’s passage.
  • December 7: White Rats of America and Actors International Union merge and are granted charter by the American Federation of Labor. The union adopts a new name, White Rats Actors Union of America.


  • April 15: RMS Titanic sinks. Deaths include New York theatrical producer Henry B. Harris.
  • Actors Society of America disbands (but does not formally dissolve) in December. Members of the Society continue to meet, and will form the Plan and Scope Committee.


  • January 13: Plan and Scope Committee of the now-defunct Actors’ Society first meets at New York’s Players Club. As a result, The Actors' Equity Association is founded May 26 by 111 actors, with Francis Wilson as its first president. Two of the 111 will be among Screen Actors Guild founding members in 1933: Reginald Mason (Guild member No. 22) and Grant Mitchell (Guild member No. 30). Initially, membership is restricted to men only. Female actors are admitted to Equity only after membership qualifications are revised on July 14.


  • April 20: Ralph Morgan (future first president of Screen Actors Guild) and Richard W. Tucker (future member No. 1 of Screen Actors Guild) accepted into Actors' Equity.
  • July 28: World War I begins.
  • Most motion picture studios are still in New York, New Jersey and Chicago, with some in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area. An August 19 New York Dramatic Mirror article notes increasing competition for audiences from the lower-priced “movies.”


  • Luxury ocean liner RMS Lusitania sunk off coast of Ireland by German torpedo. Entertainment figures losing their lives include famed theatrical manager/producer Charles Frohman, and playwrights Charles Klein and Justus Miles Foreman.


  • White Rats Actors Union of America members walk out on strike. The strike fails and members are blacklisted. Spies hunt for evidence of White Rats membership and turn it into the theatrical producers.


  • March 15: Russian Revolution.
  • April 2: President Woodrow Wilson delivers the War Address, which will lead United States to enter World War I.
  • October 2: Actors’ Equity's first Standard Contract signed with United Managers Protective Association — but the contract will be rarely used by the managers.
  • October 24 and 25 (November 6 and 7 on current calendar): Provisional Russian government overthrown in October Revolution. V.I. Lenin becomes new head of Russian government October 26 (November 8).


  • Producing Managers Association formed.
  • Worldwide influenza epidemic kills millions. Variety prints lists of the theatrical and film world's influenza deaths, including film star Harold Lockwood and actor Julian L’Estrange.
  • November 11: World War I hostilities end with an armistice.
  • November 12: American Federation of Labor issues charter in New York to Motion Picture Players Union, representing extra players.
  • After the war, future Screen Actors Guild founding member No. 28, Bela Lugosi, who will find stage and screen fame as Dracula, founds the Free Organization of Theatrical Employees in his native Hungary, expanding it soon after into the National Trade Union of Actors.


  • In March, Bela Lugosi leads mass demonstration of fellow actors in Hungary.
  • Future Screen Actors Guild (and AFRA) President Eddie Cantor elected to Council of Actors’ Equity.
  • April 29: Future Screen Actors Guild founding member No. 9, Boris Karloff, accepted into Actors’ Equity.
  • July 18: White Rats give up their American Federation of Labor Charter, allowing the creation of new organization, Associated Actors and Artistes of America (Four A's) in New York. Four A's first act is to issue a charter to Actors' Equity Association. Actors loyal to managers, resenting Equity's acceptance into organized labor, resign their Equity membership to form Actors Fidelity League. Equity dubs these deserters "Fidos."
  • August 7: Actors’ Equity goes on strike for recognition against members of the Producing Managers Association. Future Screen Actors Guild founders Ralph Morgan (No. 19), James Gleason (No. 7) and wife Lucile Webster Gleason (No. 14) walk off their Broadway show The Five Million. Actors, compared with Bolsheviks, are taunted as practicing "amateur Sovietism" for striking. 
  • August 16: IATSE and American Federation of Musicians members’ walk out in sympathy strike for the actors.
  • August 18: Hollywood motion picture actors pledge $7,500 to Equity strike fund.
  • Numerous striking actors sued by the managers’ association, including future Screen Actors Guild founders Ralph Morgan and Richard W. Tucker. 
  • Bela Lugosi and wife flee Hungary in August.
  • September 6: Equity strike ends. Equity recognized, but without “Equity Shop” terms (see 1924).


  • Actors’ Equity's begins to assert claim over motion pictures. Equity secretary Frank Gillmore makes first trek to Hollywood to meet with the Screen Actors of America organization in January. American Federation of Labor declares Actors' Equity Association has sole jurisdiction over motion picture principal performers.
  • Motion Picture Players Union relinquishes its charter to Equity. First regular radio broadcasting begins in the United States.


  • Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America created in March, with former U.S. Postmaster General Will Hays appointed head. The organization will become known as the Hays Office.


  • Association of Motion Picture Producers founded.
  • Actors’ Equity council member Ralph Morgan serves briefly as acting president of Equity. Equity goes on second strike to win Equity Shop, resulting in agreement that no less than 80 percent of any signatory cast be Equity members.
  • In September, responding to complaints of grueling hours on movie sets, including being worked in multiple pictures on a single day, newspapers report Association of Motion Picture Producers (AMPP) President Joseph Schenck orders a ban on overworking film actors. Schenck was president of United Artists, and married to silent-film star Norma Talmadge. His brother Nicholas M. Schenck, was also a top movie executive. Joe Schenck's "order" read, "No more overworking of screen players in order to make economy records for producers or directors...I don't want actors to be afraid. They need have no fear of being blacklisted. It is our purpose to correct this evil. It is not fair to the actor or to the public to expect a player to work 18 hours a day and then be called to the set the next morning." Schenck invited any player who felt ill-used to make a complaint personally to himself or to the group's secretary, Fred W. Beetson. Few actors availed themselves of this intimidating offer. In 1937, when Joe Schenck was chairman of the board of 20th Century Fox, he and Louis B. Mayer, MGM's vice president in charge of production, would be the first producers to formally recognize the Screen Actors Guild.


  • May 25: Masquers Club founded in Hollywood.
  • Petitions signed by 100 prominent Hollywood film actors request Actors’ Equity be recognized as the bargaining agent for motion picture actors. One signer is Richard W. Tucker, who will become Screen Actors Guild member No. 1 in 1933. In July, Equity's Frank Gillmore again approaches Will Hays and AMPP president Joseph Schenck about recognizing Equity in motion pictures without success.
  • December 4: Association of Motion Picture Producers eliminate Hollywood's abuse-laden Service Bureau for Extras and


  • 27-year-old stage actor Kenneth Thomson comes to Hollywood under silent-film contract to Cecil B. DeMille. Thomson's house will be primary "secret meeting" place for Screen Actors Guild in 1933 and Thomson will become the organization’s first paid executive.
  • Studio Basic Agreement signed between Association of Motion Picture Producers and motion picture crafts unions IATSE, IBEW, Carpenters, Painters and Musicians.


  • Anti-union Los Angeles Times prints scathing article blaming theatrical labor unions, particularly Actors' Equity, for disastrous decline in legitimate theater and box office receipts.
  • May 10: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences founded.
  • June 23. Sixteen prominent production companies announce intent to reduce salaries for motion picture workers by 10 to 25 percent, resulting in renewed enthusiasm by actors for Equity. Equity derailed when salary cuts are withdrawn upon the recommendation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • October 6: Warner Bros. premieres The Jazz Singer, a silent film with talking and singing segments, whetting audiences' appetite for films with sound.
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issues its first-ever uniform contract for freelance film actors in December, which will become known as the Academy Contract. Equity discovers that much of the contract's wording was originally proposed by Equity, and dubs the Academy "The Motion Pictures' Company Union."


  • Actors' Equity moves to establish regulation of theatrical talent agents.
  • More "talking pictures" produced, luring stage actors to Hollywood, where most are filmed. "Talkies" require significantly longer working hours than silent pictures and the stage, and reports of abuses flow into the Equity office.


  • Actors’ Equity polls California members as to whether they’d support Equity Shop for motion pictures. Results in April: 1,120 in favor versus 98 against.
  • June 5: Actors' Equity declares strike for recognition in Hollywood, but insists its contract players must not break their contracts to join the strike.
  • Equity thanks Eddie Cantor (future president of Screen Actors Guild and AFRA) for offering "to address a public statement to the motion picture producers, urging them to accept Equity and its contract."
  • August 17: Equity strike ends in failure, Frank Gillmore returns to New York.
  • Stock market crashes in October, ushering in the Great Depression.


  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences adds 12-hour rest period to its contract for freelance film actors.


  • Great Depression increases its toll on the economy.
  • "Efficiency experts" brought in by studios slash actors’ salaries by as much as 50 percent.
  • Variety reduces cover price from 25 cents to 15 cents.
  • Broadway and “the road” hurt by Depression. More stage actors come to Hollywood.
  • Ralph Morgan arrives in Hollywood under contract to Fox Films.
  • Boris Karloff experiences hellish 25-hour shoot on Frankenstein, and files complaint with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt elected president


  • March 4: Franklin Roosevelt begins first term as president and declares emergency "bank holiday," closing all banks for several days.
  • March 7: Motion Picture Producers Association announces, through the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, temporary salary cuts of 50 percent for studio employees, including actors.
  • May 10: Earthquake rattles Long Beach. Aftershocks rock meeting of Hollywood actors and writers at Writers Club, who are protesting the severity of the pay cuts. After outcry and input from members, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences soon proposes sliding scale of cuts.
  • Six actors — Berton Churchill, Grant Mitchell, Ralph Morgan (all are members of Actors' Equity Council and veterans of the 1919 Equity strike), Charles Miller (Actors' Equity's West Coast representative), Kenneth Thomson (sole member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) and his wife Alden Gay — meet in the Thomsons' Hollywood hills home to discuss formation of self-governing organization of film actors. Membership would be open to all, as opposed to the by-invitation-only membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
  • June 16: Roosevelt's National Industrial Recovery Act passes, creating the National Recovery Administration.
  • June 30: SAG Articles of Incorporation filed.
  • July 10: Group application for Guild membership signed by 17 SAG founders: Arthur Vinton, James Gleason, Lucile Webster Gleason, Clay Clement, Reginald Mason, Richard Tucker, Leon Waycoff [Ames], Charles Starrett, Ralph Morgan, Alan Mowbray, Claude King, Morgan Wallace, C. Aubrey Smith, Kenneth Thomson, Bradley Page, Willard Robertson, and Ivan Simpson. Alden Gay Thomson signs an individual application that someone dates “July 12" in green felt tip pen.
  • July 12: Guild incorporated in downtown Los Angeles at 649 S. Olive, off Pershing Square, with first officers chosen: Ralph Morgan as president, Alan Mowbray as vice president, Lucile Gleason as treasurer and Kenneth Thomson as secretary. 
  • August 7: Actor-artist Guild member Ivan Simpson creates the Guild’s motto: "He best serves himself who serves others."
  • September 28: Guild’s roster increases to 54 members, but no top stars.
  • Protests against provisions in National Recovery Administration's proposed Motion Picture Code of Fair Competition result in mass exodus of stars from the Academy in early October. Major stars like Robert Montgomery, Fredric March, James Cagney, Ann Harding, Eddie Cantor and Groucho Marx join Guild.
  • All Guild officers, including President Ralph Morgan, and two-thirds of the SAG Board of Directors resign to allow bigger stars with clout to take as many Board seats as they will — Morgan yields SAG presidency to Eddie Cantor, one of the most popular theater, film and radio stars in the country — who also happens to know President Roosevelt.
  • Roosevelt suspends objectionable provisions of the Motion Picture Code after persuasive visit from Cantor.
  • Screen Actors Guild agrees to admit extras as members, but they will not be full voting members, primarily because the Guild believes their greater numbers would give them too much control over Guild matters.
  • First Guild publication, Screen Actors' News, issued at year’s end.


  • Guild’s first magazine, The Screen Player, debuts on March 15.
  • SAG and Screen Writers Guild jointly publish The Screen Guilds' Magazine, beginning in August
  • Studios practice self-censorship through new enforcement of the 1930 Production Code.
  • First Screen Actors Guild ball fundraiser, held at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, a success.
  • Eddie Cantor, Richard Tucker, James Cagney, Boris Karloff, Ann Harding, Dick Powell and Mary Astor host SAG's three-day Film Stars Frolic fundraiser in May. The event is a financial failure and wipes out the Guild treasury. Several stars, including Cantor, Cagney, Harding, Fredric March and Robert Montgomery privately loan the Guild the money to restore the funds.
  • Actors' Equity formally surrenders its film jurisdiction to the Guild.


  • Guild granted an American Federation of Labor charter by the Associated Actors and Artistes of America.
  • Guild membership passes 5,000.
  • Robert Montgomery succeeds Eddie Cantor as Guild President.
  • Monthly balloting by actors on "the outstanding work of their fellows" produces first Screen Actors Guild Awards for Best Performances of the Month. The results are published in Screen Guilds’ Magazine.


  • SAG boycotts the Oscars. The producer-dominated Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is denounced by the Guild for "selling the actor down the river" by representing itself as a fair bargaining unit for talent.


  • May 9: Willie Bioff, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) "Hollywood representative" encourages movie moguls Louis B. Mayer and Joseph Schenck to accept Guild demands.
  • May 9: Screen Actors Guild recognized after 96 percent of the membership votes to strike at midnight on May 10 if the Guild is not recognized.
  • May 15: Thirteen producers sign the first SAG contract, ensuring minimum pay of $25 per day; $35 for stunts, $5.50 for extras. Portions of the 1935 contract of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences become part of the new SAG contract. President Montgomery declares Guild recognition "the victory of an ideal."
  • June 21: Guild opens an office in New York, the first outside Hollywood.
  • Ronald Reagan becomes a Guild member in July.
  • August 16: American Federation of Radio Artists (AFRA) chartered, with Eddie Cantor as its first president.
  • In August, IATSE's Bioff puts pressure on President Montgomery to reinstate a suspended Guild member. Montgomery refuses, Bioff threatens him.
  • In September, Bioff announces IATSE’s intent to take over jurisdiction of all motion picture workers, including actors, and demands producers place the IA logo on all motion pictures or IA projectionists will refuse to run them.
  • Interim Labor Committee launches investigation of IATSE. President Robert Montgomery testifies for the Guild.


  • Montgomery launches investigation of IATSE's Willie Bioff, which eventually unearths his criminal past. Bioff resigns from IA position in September, but remains involved in the industry.
  • Guild discusses merging all branches of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America.
  • Actors’ Equity reasserts its jurisdictional claim over television in its June magazine. The New York Times reports the story as “Labor Worries Beset Industry Not Yet Born.”
  • Ralph Morgan elected Guild President in September, succeeding Robert Montgomery.


  • January 1: Guild enacts first Agency Regulations.
  • January 8: The first program of the Screen Guild Theatre radio show (1939-1952) airs. Through it, SAG members raise money for the Motion Picture Relief Fund to build a facility and hospital for actors in need, the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital. 
  • Associated Actors and Artistes of America forms first Committee on Television.
  • IATSE International President George Browne announces second strong-arm attempt to take over all actor unions, after granting an IATSE charter to the American Federation of Actors. The takeover is thwarted by a Guild strike threat and agreement, again settled by Bioff. IATSE's attempt results in increased motivation to merge the performer unions.
  • September 1: Adolph Hitler orders German invasion of Poland, which will begin World War II.
  • Ralph Morgan re-elected as Guild president.
  • September 19: “Coogan Law,” named for silent-film child star Jackie Coogan, covering earnings of young performers in California, takes effect.


  • Guild’s stated merger plans, "1940 Goal: One Big Union" do not happen.
  • Special Committee on Un-American Activities, headed by Rep. Martin Dies, comes to Hollywood to expose alleged Communist influences in movies.
  • Guild works on autonomy plan for extras.
  • Equity, AFRA and SAG decide jurisdiction over development of television to be shared jointly.
  • Central Casting reorganized after SAG investigation.
  • Smith Act requires aliens to register, and makes it illegal for any individual or organization to advocate overthrow of U.S. government by force.
  • President Roosevelt signs Selective Service Act, also known as the draft.
  • Edward Arnold elected SAG president, succeeding Ralph Morgan.


  • United Service Organization (USO) formed.
  • Guild fights four anti-labor bills in Sacramento.
  • July 14: Ronald Reagan joins Guild Board as a temporary replacement for actress Heather Angel. Motion to approve him made by Guild founding member Lucile Gleason, seconded by Elizabeth Risdon. Reagan attends his first board meeting August 11.
  • Cartoonist Guild members walk out in strike against Walt Disney Studio.
  • Jack Tenney, chair of the California Legislature's Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, opens brief hearings on "reds" in Hollywood, with Herb Sorrell of the Motion Picture Painters testifying.
  • Herb Sorrell organizes Conference of Studio Unions (CSU).
  • Edward Arnold re-elected Guild president.
  • Japan moves into French Indochina.
  • Roosevelt freezes Japan's U.S. assets and halts trade between the two.
  • December 7: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor.
  • U.S. declares war on Japan, then Germany and Italy, and enters World War II.


  • April 19: Ronald Reagan’s acting career and Guild service interrupted as he is ordered to active Army duty. He will be assigned later in the year to stateside duty with 1st Motion Picture Unit, based in Culver City, Calif.
  • James Cagney elected Screen Actors Guild president in September, succeeding Edward Arnold.  Jane Wyman, wife of Ronald Reagan, elected to three-year term on board.
  • As anti-inflationary measure, Roosevelt signs executive order freezing wages and salaries, including a ceiling of $25,000 on earnings.
  • SAG Executive Secretary Kenneth Thomson becomes chair of the Hollywood Victory Committee.


  • In March, Academy Award-winning actress Hattie McDaniel requests the Guild form a committee to discuss the problems faced by black performers in films.
  • August 23: Olivia de Havilland sues Warner Bros. for extending her contract beyond its seven years.
  • Guild offers "Class B" members (background actors) the choice of a local charter or an independent union to be known as the Motion Picture Extras Association. In October and November, extras vote to remain in the Guild by margin of 1,672 to 103.
  • November 14: SAG President James Cagney re-elected.
  • Group of background actors (then known as extras) desiring to break with SAG form Screen Players Union, request jurisdiction over extras who also do speaking bits, and petition National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for certification hearing.
  • Kenneth Thomson resigns as executive secretary, and is replaced by John L. “Jack” Dales at year's end.


  • NLRB hearings for Screen Players Union take place in Washington, D.C. Kenneth Thomson testifies.
  • March 14: Olivia de Havilland wins her case against Warner Bros. The final round will be won February 3, 1945.
  • June 6: D-Day invasion begins in France.
  • George Murphy elected Guild president, succeeding James Cagney
  • Cagney's entire presidential farewell address emphasizes extras issue as "one of the Guild's most serious internal problems."
  • Extras vote in NLRB hearing, choose Screen Players Union as bargaining agent over Screen Actors Guild.


  • Supreme Court hands down "de Havilland Decision," declaring studios may no longer hold contract players more than seven years.
  • NLRB orders new hearing on Screen Players Union.
  • Screen Extras Guild formed. It applies to Associated Actors and Artistes of America for charter.
  • Set decorators align with Conference of Studio Unions (CSU), not IATSE, causing jurisdictional dispute. Screen Players Union supports CSU's cause.
  • In March, IATSE's Richard Walsh sends Roy M. Brewer to Hollywood to investigate CSU situation.
  • In violation of unions' wartime "no strike" pledge, CSU strikes, under leadership of Herb Sorrell the day Brewer arrives. SAG declares CSU/IATSE conflict (with violent brawls and overturned vehicles outside studios) is jurisdictional and will not honor CSU picket line.
  • April 12: President Franklin Roosevelt dies in office, and is succeeded by Vice President Harry Truman.
  • April 28: Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini captured and executed. German fascist dictator Adolph Hitler commits suicide April 30.
  • May 7: World War II ends as Germany surrenders; VE Day declared May 8. On August 6, the United States drops the first atomic bombs, first on Hiroshima (August 6) and then Nagasaki (August 9). Japan accepts U.S. terms August 14 and formally surrenders September 2.
  • December 9: Ronald Reagan separated from active military duty and soon resumes his Guild involvement.


  • Ronald Reagan chosen as temporary board replacement for actor Rex Ingram in February, and for horror star Boris Karloff in March.
  • California Legislature's Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities attempts to prove CSU leader Herb Sorrell is a Communist Party member.
  • March 5: Winston Churchill makes famous "Iron Curtain" speech.
  • Screen Extras Guild Certified by NLRB.
  • June 17: Guild issues anti-Communist anti-Fascist statement, originally proposed by president Robert Montgomery, in press release.
  • CSU strikes for three days in July.
  • CSU strikes resume in September.
  • Robert Montgomery elected SAG president in September. Ronald Reagan elected 3rd vice president. Reagan will soon impress Guild board with his handling of the CSU strike situation.
  • September 15: The Guild membership votes in favor of adopting this conflict-of-interest resolution: "Whereas, the Screen Actors Guild is about to start negotiations with the producers for a new basic contract, [the 1937 contract was for 10 years, with modifications at intervals] and to forestall any reflections upon the good faith of the Guild negotiators, now therefore be it resolved that no actor or actress who becomes a motion picture producer or director and who, in the judgment of the Board of Directors after a hearing and full examination of the facts, is found to have primarily and continually the interest of an employer, rather than that of an actor, shall hold office in the Screen Actors Guild." Resolution passes 756 to 210. Guild also adopts resolution to use its power to “oppose discrimination against Negroes in the motion picture industry” and set up a committee to meet with the Screen Writers Guild, Screen Directors Guild and Motion Picture Producers Association to establish a policy “presenting Negro characters on the screen in the true relation they bear to American life.”


  • March 10: Robert Montgomery resigns presidency due to by-laws change. Ronald Reagan is nominated by Gene Kelly. Secret ballot vote by the Board of Directors sees Ronald Reagan emerge as the choice to replace Montgomery over the two nominees, Kelly and George Murphy. Before commencement of the 1947 negotiations, seven of the Guild's most prominent board members also submit their resignations, due to the new conflict-of-interest by-law: James Cagney, Franchot Tone, Dick Powell, Harpo Marx, John Garfield and Dennis O'Keefe.
  • Edward G. Robinson and other stars appear on AFL radio show, opposing anti-union aspects of Taft-Hartley Law.
  • Taft-Hartley passed, over labor’s opposition and Truman's veto.
  • Guild officers sign notarized non-Communist affidavits — a requirement of the new Taft-Hartley act.
  • House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings begin in Washington, D.C. The chairman is J. Parnell Thomas, and future U.S. President Richard M. Nixon is a committee member.  
  • SAG 1st Vice President Gene Kelly, Board members Marsha Hunt and Humphrey Bogart, and others fly to HUAC hearings in support of the "Hollywood Ten." Originally dubbed the "Unfriendly 19," the group was whittled down to 10. All were current or former members of the Communist Party: Alvah Bessie (screenwriter, drama critic for New Masses magazine); Herbert Biberman (playwright, screenwriter, director, a founder of the Screen Directors Guild, married to actress Gale Sondergaard. Both were party members); Lester Cole (screenwriter, was running for re-election to executive board of Screen Writers Guild when subpoenaed); Edward Dmytryk (director, Tender Comrade, Murder My Sweet, Crossfire, who withdrew from the party in 1945 after brief membership, married to actress Jean Porter); Ring Lardner, Jr. (screenwriter, son of writer Ring Lardner. Co-wrote Tracy/Hepburn classic Woman of the Year); John Howard Lawson (screenwriter, playwright; former president of Screen Writers Guild, head of Hollywood branch of Communist Party); Albert Maltz (writer, screenwriter, O. Henry Award winner for short stories, contributor to Marxist periodicals); Sam Ornitz (screenwriter, playwright, novelist); Adrian Scott (screenwriter-producer; produced Crossfire and Cornered, both with Dmytryk, and Murder My Sweet). Dalton Trumbo (screenwriter; novelist, Tender Comrade, Johnny Got his Gun; Kitty Foyle; Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, Our Vines Have Tender Grapes).
  • SAG President Ronald Reagan and former presidents George Murphy and Montgomery testify before HUAC as "friendly witnesses.” 
  • Ronald Reagan, acting president since March 10, is elected Guild president on November 16. Within a month, his wife, board member Jane Wyman, asks for a separation.
  • November 24: Hollywood Ten found guilty of contempt of court.
  • Studio heads fire Hollywood Ten for refusing to cooperate with HUAC.


  • Television becomes major SAG jurisdictional issue.
  • Soviets invade Czechoslovakia
  • May 3: Death of Hollywood studio system begins as the U.S. Supreme Court’s Paramount Decision orders the major studios to divest themselves of their theater chains. The decision was the culmination of more than 20 years’ pursuit by the U.S. government to end various monopolistic practices in the motion picture industry. All major film producers and distributors were involved in this antitrust suit, including Paramount, Warner Bros., RKO, Universal, 20th Century-Fox, Columbia, United Artists, Loew’s Inc. (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) and the American Theatres Association. RKO was the first to agree to divorce its film exhibition business from the production and distribution side, including the selling off of interest in over 200 theatres. Paramount acquiesced in 1949, and the others were forced to follow.
  • Television broadcasting goes national.
  • Studio contract players drop to 463 in 1948, a 37 percent decline
  • Soviets blockade U.S.-controlled West Berlin
  • SAG 1948 theatrical agreement with producers includes "stop-gap clause," for negotiations on wage scales and working conditions on films made-for-TV, and eventually on residuals for feature films they may later license to TV.
  • Guild founder Kenneth Thomson returns to SAG employment as TV administrator.


  • April 1: Ronald Reagan and Kenneth Thomson (for SAG), and Roy Brewer and Dick Walsh (for IATSE) visit Harry Truman at White House to discuss runaway production (American films being made in England with British crews, utilizing “frozen” funds earned by U.S. films).
  • Filmed TV jurisdiction becomes major SAG issue, as Guild declines to join the Television Authority of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America.
  • Soviets explode their first atomic bomb.
  • Guild membership drops to lowest level since recognition: 6,533
  • Communists, led by Mao-Tse-tung, declare victory in mainland China.


  • Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, declares State Department riddled with Communists.
  • SAG's parent organization, the Associated Actors and Artistes of America adopts resolution vesting ALL TV jurisdiction in its "trusteeship" the Television Authority (TvA)
  • Korean War begins as Communist North Korean forces invade South Korea
  • Red Channels: The Report of Communist Influence in Radio And Television is published in June
  • McCarran Act passed, requiring Communists, and Communist-front organizations to register with the US Attorney General
  • Richard Nixon becomes senator, defeating former actress Helen Gahagan Douglas, accusing her of pro-Communist leanings. He calls her "The Pink Lady." She calls him "Tricky Dick"
  • At NLRB hearings in LA, SAG claims right to motion picture TV jurisdiction, stating "...motion picture actors are motion picture actors whether they appear in films for theatres or films for television, and the Guild is the only logical bargaining agent for motion picture actors, no matter where their films may be exhibited."


  • House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings resume in Washington, DC
  • Gale Sondergaard (wife of "Hollywood Ten" member Herbert Biberman, and first winner of a "Best Supporting Actress" Academy Award) writes SAG Board of Directors requesting support before appearing in front of HUAC on March 21 in Washington, D.C.
  • SAG board member Anne Revere appears before HUAC April 17, resigns Board seat next month
  • First commercial color TV program debuts on June 25, from CBS Studio 57 in New York
  • Alliance of Television Film producers founder (in 1964, will merge with Association of Motion Picture Producers to become the Association of Film and TV Producers).


  • Monogram Studios makes agreement with SAG to pay residuals on 70 feature films made since August 1, 1948, licensed for TV – members told “Guild Sets Precedent in Television.”
  • The Guild signs its first contracts for filmed TV programs.  Residual payment for small number of reruns included.
  • Music Corporation of America (MCA), a talent agency, granted blanket waiver by SAG to also produce filmed TV programs in Hollywood, to stimulate work for members.
  • SAG defeats Television Authority in final NLRB election over the jurisdiction of filmed TV programs
  • In September, SAG jurisdiction over filmed TV is acknowledged & ratified by the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, which declares: "Jurisdiction is hereby confirmed in SAG over all actors (including singers, announcers, stunt men, and airplane pilots) employed in the motion picture field including, without limitation, all motion pictures produced for use over television; also over all extras employed in such motion picture field in the state of New York." AFRA (American Federation of Radio Artists) merges with Television Authority, gaining live television jurisdiction, becoming AFTRA
  • Walter Pidgeon elected SAG President, leads first-ever strike, over filmed television commercials, lasting Dec.1, 1952 to February 18, 1953


  • New Mexico schoolteacher June Kuhlman writes Guild that film (The Salt of the Earth) is being made locally by communists
  • Newspaper columnist Victor Reisel reports Salt of the Earth story nationally
  • Hollywood AFL film Council calls on federal government to investigate Salt of the Earth filming
  • Soviet Union’s dictator, Joseph Stalin, dies in March
  • Guild appoints "Anti-Communist Discipline Committee"
  • Academy Awards televised for first time
  • AFTRA adopts rule that any AFTRA member refusing to cooperate with HUAC is subject to disciplinary proceedings
  • Guild protests six year-old Taft-Hartley law, which "has permitted and is continuing to permit thousands of persons who are not professional actors, and who have no intention of trying to make a livelihood in motion picture work, to deprive professional actors of sorely needed jobs."
  • Charged as guilty of selling atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, Ethel & Julius Rosenberg executed for espionage/treason to the United States
  • 96% of Guild members vote to approve requiring anti-communist "loyalty oath" of all actors joining the Guild: "I am not now and will not become a member of the Communist Party nor of any other organization that seeks to overthrow the government of the United States by force and violence"
  • The Guild’s first dues increase since 1935 implemented.
  • At annual meeting, Guild pledges continuing fight against Runaway Production, and Kenneth Thomson declares "Although it did not set out to do so of its own volition, the Screen Actors Guild has now of necessity become a nationwide organization, with branches and membership not only in Hollywood and New York - but also in Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Boston."


  • AFTRA wins pension & health benefit
  • Screen Writers Guild merges with TV writers guild and radio writers guild to form Writers Guild of America
  • Harold Hoffman succeeds Florence "Bobbie" Marston as head executive of SAG's New York branch.


  • Screen Extras Guild votes to expel any member who refuses to testify before HUAC
  • SAG declares second strike (against TV producers). Executive Secretary Jack Dales tells Guild membership: "The producers, so far as we were able to judge, are led, surprisingly enough, in their thinking and in the stand they have taken not by the majors but by the Television Alliance-a young, aggressive, confident-I would say overconfident-group of producers. They have adamantly refused throughout the six weeks of negotiations to consider any formula, any formula at all which would require the paying of one cent on the second run of the film. It isn't a question of amount, they have said they cannot and will not buy any such formula. We quite aggressively refuse to budge from our position that some payment on the first rerun of television films is a must in these negotiations."


  • New SAG headquarters opens at 7750 Sunset Blvd. (its fourth location since 1933 and first constructed especially for the Guild). AFL chief George Meany joins president Walter Pidgeon to dedicate it.
  • HUAC investigates "so-called blacklisting" in radio, TV and film, Gale Sondergaard testifies again
  • Guild calls its second strike: for increased TV show residuals Aug. 5-15, 1955
  • AFL and CIO merge.


  • SAG makes deal for residuals with C & C Television Corporation and Associated Artists Corporation, covering payments for "82 RKO Pictures and 12 Warner Bros. pictures produced after August, 1948 and released to television."
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy dies
  • SAG president-elect Leon Ames and Board member William Walker represent the Guild at movie industry luncheon conference at Beverly Hills Hotel with NAACP officials (Rev. Maurice A. Dawkins, Roy Wilkins) and Association of Motion Picture Producers (Charles Boren and B.B. Kahane) to clear up "misinterpretation of role of NAACP regarding Negro roles."

1958 – the Guild’s 25th anniversary year

  • Videotape jurisdiction disputed. NLRB arbitrates dispute between SAG and AFTRA over taped commercials
  • Guild demands producers' records of TV re-runs and syndication; urges testing of subscription TV
  • Howard Keel elected Guild president, succeeding Leon Ames.


  • TV residuals increase 33% over 1958
  • Hollywood AFL Film Council calls on Congress for full scale investigation of Runaway Production, charging that "In most instances 'runaway' pictures made by American producers in foreign countries give employment to known Communists and thus give aid and comfort to the Communist conspiracy against the free world, it being estimated that more than 50 percent of the technicians and artists employed in American pictures abroad are Communists" and will demand next AFL-CIO convention vote support of nationwide consumer boycott of all runaway films made by American producers
  • SAG Board representation becomes national, as Board of Directors is increased from 39 seats to 52, allowing branch representation (New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco) for first time
  • Board member & former Guild pres. Ronald Reagan elected SAG President, succeeding Howard Keel.
  • Guild prepares for theatrical contract negotiation of 1960.


  • Three SAG contracts expire this year, theatrical, television, and commercial
  • Exodus director, Otto Preminger publicly announces script is by Dalton Trumbo, one of the "Hollywood Ten" and that he will receive screen credit
  • SAG complies with new Landrum-Griffin Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, resulting in elimination of membership categories within the Guild
  • Third Guild strike called: issue is over post August 1, 1948 residuals for feature films sold/licensed/released  to TV - small "dissident" group opposes striking
  • Strike March 7-April 18 halts 8 major productions, including Elizabeth Taylor's Butterfield 8, Gina Lollobrigida's Go Naked in the World, Jack Lemmon's The Wackiest Ship in the Army and Marilyn Monroe's Let's Make Love
  • Strike settlement results in residuals only for films commencing after January 31, 1960, but producers' lump payment of $2.65 million creates the Guild's first Pension and Welfare Plan
  • Merger: David L. Cole's recommendations on merging SAG & AFTRA rejected by the Guild board.  Membership votes to back the board’s decision and support an alternative: “positive cooperative action between S.A.G. and AFTRA, including joint negotiations and administration in the fields of TV commercials and taped TV entertainment.”.
  • Ronald Reagan resigns Guild presidency for production interests, George Chandler succeeds him.
  • Actors' Equity strikes, wins pension plan
  • SAG Executive Secretary Jack Dales tells membership of continuing challenge of Runaway Production, and about meetings investigating "alleged racial discrimination in hiring practices in the motion picture production industry."


  • Ken Orsatti, future SAG National Executive Director, joins Guild staff as a business rep in the Contracts Department
  • Jack Dales, George Chandler, Pat Somerset, and Buck Harris represent the Guild at Runaway Production meeting in Los Angeles with Congressman John H. Dent, Chair of a special House Committee on the Impact of Imports and Exports on American Employment.


  • Runaway Production thwarted: the Guild praises George Stevens for agreeing to film The Greatest Story Ever Told in Hollywood, rather than abroad.


  • SAG attacks discrimination, producers agree to add "American Scene" clause, which reads: "The parties mutually affirm their policy of non-discrimination in the treatment of any actor because of race, creed, color or national origin. In accordance with this policy, the producer will make every effort to cast performers belonging to all groups in all types of roles, having due regard for the requirements of a suitability for the role, so that, for example, the American scene may be portrayed realistically"
  • Dana Andrews elected SAG National President, succeeding George Chandler
  • Guild protests network control, urges freedom from advertising, signs first contract with subscription television.
  • Harry Belafonte, Paul Newman, Sidney Poitier, Guild 2nd VP Charlton Heston and other SAG members join Dr. Martin Luther King in civil rights March on Washington
  • President John F. Kennedy assassinated, Lyndon Johnson assumes presidency.


  • Merger between the Association of Motion Picture Producers (founded 1924) and Alliance of Television Film Producers (founded 1951) is announced in Los Angeles Times April 6.  New organization will be known as the Association of Motion Picture and TV Producers – the first AMPTP. [See also 1982]
  • SAG President Dana Andrews, and public relations director Buck Harris, represent the Guild at President Johnson's conference at the White House, relating to the role labor can play in support of the newly-signed Civil Rights Act of 1964.


  • Malcolm X assassinated in New York
  • Vietnam War escalates as first U.S. combat troops land
  • U.S. public schools ordered desegregated by 1967
  • Kenneth Thomson, Guild co-founder and first Guild Executive Secretary, resigns from SAG staff
  • McCarran Act weakened as Supreme Court decides Communists be allowed to refuse to register as such with the US government
  • "Hollywood Overseas Committee" formed to coordinate USO entertainment of troops in Vietnam, George Chandler named Committee President
  • Dana Andrews and V.P. Gregory Peck invited by President Lyndon Johnson to White House for signing of National Arts and Humanities Act
  • New foreign TV residuals boost monthly total over $1 million.
  • Charlton Heston elected SAG President, succeeding Dana Andrews.


  • Former SAG president Ronald Reagan elected Governor of California, in November.


  • Guild petitions FCC, charging "The three television network corporations now have a virtual monopoly on all phases of television network programming and its by-products with the result that the market available to independent producers has been severely restricted"
  • AFTRA calls its first national strike
  • The Guild’s anti-Communist "loyalty oath" for members, in place since 1953, made optional after members of The Grateful Dead, appearing in feature film Petulia refuse to sign (but loyalty oath remains requirement for Board of Directors).  Oath will be eliminated in 1974.
  • Guild announces TV and Theatrical contracts will no longer be negotiated separately
  • Major antiwar demonstrations in Washington DC and New York.


  • SAG's "Conflict of Interest" rule, in place since 1946, which placed restrictions on eligibility for those with production interests seeking a Board seat, is tightened by SAG Board of Directors to read " person who has an interest in motion picture production...shall be eligible to become or remain an officer of the Guild" Unlike in 1946, Guild members do not vote on the issue.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King assassinated in Memphis
  • Robert F. Kennedy assassinated in Los Angeles
  • Governor Ronald Reagan signs SB 393 (removing the California Inventory Tax from films), hoping to curb Runaway Production
  • Auto-insurance discrimination against actors becomes issue.
  • Richard Nixon elected President of the United States.


  • Recognizing growth of independent filmmaking, Guild initiates low-budget theatrical contract
  • Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon
  • Woodstock festival held
  • Largest antiwar rally in US history (250,000 people) held in Washington, D.C.
  • John McGuire joins staff of Guild’s New York branch


  • Hollywood film production in state of “near depression” with 42% unemployed.  Guild and IATSE announce lower-budget contract that hopes to bring production back to Hollywood, dubbed the “Comeback Contract.”


  • SAG joins with AFTRA credit union
  • First-ever "fully contested" SAG election, as independent candidates challenge the nominating committee's choices for seven Guild officer positions (including the President) and 16 Board seats - none of the independents are elected
  • John Gavin elected SAG president and petitions President Nixon for government assistance to film industry, asking for tax incentives for motion pictures, limit TV to 25% reruns, and give government filmmaking to private sector.


  • SAG Women's Committee founded, reveals Brigham Young University study shows 81.7% of roles on TV are male, vs 18.3% female
  • SAG Ethnic Minorities Committee founding announced in February
  • Watergate break-in
  • AFI - Screen Actors Guild conservatory founded
  • Jack Dales, SAG Executive Secretary since the end of 1943, and a Guild staff member since October 1937, retires at year's end
  • Dales is succeeded by Chester B. “Chet” Migden, a Guild executive since 1952


  • In an event unprecedented in the Guild's 40-year history, John Gavin becomes the first-ever incumbent Guild president to be defeated by a challenger, Dennis Weaver, and six other candidates are defeated by independents as well, which will mark a turn from the Guild's traditionally conservative leadership to a more liberal, activist one.
  • Dennis Weaver becomes first president to serve under the new two-year term period


  • Guild Public Relations Director, Buck Harris, retires after nearly 40 years with the Guild
  • Results of Theatrical & TV contract gains, June 28th, include prime time TV residuals for every rerun in prime time, rather than previous practice of paying for only two reruns, and residuals in perpetuity for TV reruns in syndication replacing "the old buyout at the tenth run," and the fees are increased by 25%  Parity with AFTRA also achieved for first time, whereby primetime taped AFTRA shows pay same as SAG filmed. Head negotiator for AMPTP was Lew Wasserman.
  • John McGuire succeeds Harold Hoffman as Executive Secretary of the Guild’s New York branch on July 1.
  • Anti-Communist "loyalty oath" removed from SAG applications by action of Board of Directors July 24th.
  • In wake of Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon resigns as president August 9th, succeeded by Gerald Ford.


  • Saigon falls to Communist North Vietnam, and US finishes withdrawing all troops
  • SAG Film Society debuts on May 1
  • AMPTP loses major member as Universal pulls out.  It will soon be joined by Paramount to form “The Alliance.” Other majors that will pull out over the next two years will include Disney, MGM and United Artists.
  • Kathleen Nolan, running as an independent candidate,  becomes the Guild's first female National President
  • Midge Van Buren Farrell, first employee hired by SAG in 1933, retires after 42 years' service.


  • United States celebrates Bicentennial year
  • Jimmy Carter elected president of the United States.


  • Guild expands National Executive Committee from 7 seats to 13 (President, 10 vice-presidents, recording secretary, and treasurer)
  • Incumbent SAG president, Kathleen Nolan is not chosen by the Guild's nominating committee.  Nolan runs as independent once more and is re-elected to another two-year term.


  • Meetings begin of SAG/AFTRA Coordinating Study Committee to " feasibility of merger and to develop new areas of cooperation between SAG and AFTRA
  • President Kathleen Nolan leads SAG Commercials Strike for better residuals on TV ads, Dec. 19, 1978 - Feb. 7, 1979.


  • Guild's annual meetings changed to be held in January, rather than the traditional November
  • “Conflict of Interest”: Burt Lancaster withdraws his name as candidate for SAG presidency, as fact that he has a production company (although inactive) precludes him from running for office
  • Diversity: President Kathleen Nolan leads protest rally, with signs "Women and Minorities: Not Seen on the American Scene"..."Window Dressing on the Set"...and "TV: it's Time for a Facelift"
  • William Schallert elected national president, succeeding Kathleen Nolan.


  • SAG/AFTRA TV-Theatrical Strike begins: President William Schallert leads July 21-Oct. 23 walkout to establish contract terms for Pay-TV and video cassette production
  • Strike Fund distributes $500,000 to affected members, raised at "An Evening of Stars," Hollywood Bowl strike benefit with Lily Tomlin, Robin Williams, many others
  • Former SAG President and California Governor, Ronald Reagan, elected 40th President of the United States.


  • Disabilities/Merger: SAG uses sign language interpreters for first time at Annual Meeting, and National Executive Secretary, Chet Migden addresses the membership in favor of SAG/AFTRA merger, stating "I am convinced that we cannot confront conglomerates, in fact, a conglomeration of conglomerates, with fractionalized forces"- Migden adds SAG will also initiate merger discussions with Screen Extras Guild
  • Failed assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan
  • "Phase 1" SAG/AFTRA merger plan approved by membership
  • Overworked, exhausted members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) finally walk out in illegal strike - Reagan fires PATCO strikers
  • Edward Asner elected SAG National President, defeating incumbent William Schallert
  • SAG National Executive Secretary Chet Migden decides not to renew his contract, and will depart from the Guild
  • Ken Orsatti chosen to succeed Migden
  • Controversy ensues when it is prematurely revealed that the Guild's Awards Committee has chosen Ronald Reagan to receive the Guild’s annual Life Achievement Award
  • Chet Migden presented with first Ralph Morgan Award.


  • SAG Ethnic Minorities Committee changes name to Ethnic Equal Opportunities Committee (EEOC)
  • Creation of the new AMPTP (since 1964, the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers) announced in LA Times in February:  initials will now stand for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Members:  MGM, UA, Disney, Universal, Paramount, 20th Century-Fox, Columbia, Embassy Communications, Aaron Spelling Productions, Lorimar.  
  • SAG members vote on merger with Screen Extras Guild. Results May 10th -- with 57% voting in favor (as 60% minimum is required, it fails to pass)

1983 – the Guild’s 50th anniversary year

  • The Guild faces negotiations for the first time with a merged producer group, the "Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers" formed previous year by combining members of the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers and The Alliance (Paramount & Universal studios).
  • The Guild’s 50th Anniversary celebrated with a TV Special and Golden Gala Ball in Hollywood, and a Moving Picture Ball in New York
  • SAG testifies at Runaway Production hearing, entitled "The Flight of the Motion Picture Industry From California"


  • Guild sends out second vote on merger with Screen Extras Guild, which fails again (only 52% vote in favor of it, which is 5% fewer than the 1982 vote, and still below the 60% needed for passage)
  • Guild creates additional low-budget motion picture agreement, giving advantages to productions that hire more women, minorities, seniors, and disabled performers
  • Guild’s New York branch forms Women's Voice-Over Committee to study why women get only 10-20 % of voiceover work.


  • Screen Actors Guild Foundation established.


  • Space shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after takeoff, killing all on board
  • Women's voice-over study by McCollum/Spielman and Company indicates "it makes absolutely no difference whether a male or female voice is used as a TV commercial voice-over", destroying long-held advertising industry assertion that male voices "sell better" and carry "more authority"
  • The Guild moves into new national headquarters for first time in 30 years, to 7065 Hollywood Blvd


  • Residual payments hit total of one billion dollar mark
  • June 15-July 24 - SAG Animation strike. Guild wins increase in minimum session fees, and extra pay for additional voices
  • SAG enlists Ginger Rogers and Jimmy Stewart to lobby against film colorization.


  • Writers Guild of America, East and West,  begins 154-day strike from March 7-August 8
  • SAG/AFTRA TV Commercials Strike, March 21-April 15, achieves payment for cable use
  • 1st VP Barry Gordon becomes “acting president” president when Patty Duke resigns
  • SAG signs contract for the first U.S. produced Spanish language dramatic TV series
  • Congress establishes new National Film Preservation Board with SAG representation, Roddy McDowall serves as Guild delegate
  • Guild changes title of National Executive Secretary, Ken Orsatti, to National Executive Director.


  • New speed record in SAG/AFTRA Theatrical/TV negotiations, consisting of just three days of talks - gains include 12.5% increase in minimum wages & certain residuals over 3 years; new minimum salary for "Top of the Show" performers; and increase in residuals for free TV shows released to basic cable
  • Actress Rebecca Schaeffer of My Sister Sam TV show shot and killed by obsessed "fan" - in wake of Schaeffer slaying, SAG lobbies California legislature for more privacy rights, creating new DMV bill protecting access to home addresses.


  • National Women's Conference, Meryl Streep keynotes first national event, revealing the decline in women's work opportunities, pay parity and role models
  • Guild regains jurisdiction over limited number of Hollywood extras, when Guild's parent union the Associated Actors and Artistes of America announces it has authorized the Guild to "expand its jurisdiction to include units of extra players not contractually represented by the Screen Extras Guild (SEG) or any other Four A's union...SAG's authorization to represent extras within its jurisdiction does not apply to commercials or to producers of television or feature films who already have contracts with SEG."
  • July 9, first production in Hollywood since 1945, featuring SAG Hollywood extras, rolls camera: Nickelodeon's TV production Tales from the Whoop: Hot Rod Brown, Class Clown starring Whoopi Goldberg
  • Burt Lancaster represents the Guild in Washington, D.C. lobbies for creation of National Health Plan.
  • In response to Miss Saigon casting, SAG Board adopts resolution that performers of color receive preferential consideration for ethnic roles.


  • Supported by SAG Board, actors rally throughout country for National Health Care plan
  • SAG wins new Commercials contract with increase in cable TV payments
  • Dues waived for members on active duty in Persian Gulf War
  • SAG members hit by national recession as earning and residuals show decline.


  • SAG regains jurisdiction over all extras working under Guild contracts
  • SAG Extras work 467 jobs a day and earn over $1 million in first month of new theatrical contract.
  • Sexual harassment seminar held, Christine Lahti and others tell how to identify, avoid and report harassers.
  • SAG Foundation establishes BookPALS program
  • Total SAG earnings rise $12 million for year-end total of $1.1 billion.


  • First Interactive contract, with over 100 multimedia productions signed
  • SAG Film/TV residuals doubled in six years, topping $2 billion - commercial residuals total another $2 billion
  • SAG launches AIDS Task Force, distributing $125,000 in contributions
  • SAG study shows women and minorities still underrepresented
  • SAG pensions top $1 billion
  • SAG moves national headquarters to L.A.'s Miracle Mile  


  • SAG stunt coordinators victory. Stunt players vote in record numbers in favor of the Guild's first ever agreement to cover stunt coordinators
  • To ensure actors get their residuals, Guild monitors rash of film companies declaring bankruptcy
  • TV Animation Incentive Plan proposed to curb Runaway Production to Canada
  • Guild resolves Association of Talent Agents (ATA) arbitration
  • SAG and AFTRA approve three-year Commercials contract, gaining significant increases in cable and Spanish language TV and fending off management proposals for major rollbacks.


  • February 25: 1st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center Martin Landau first actor to win the Actor statuette (Male Actor in a Supporting Role) – for portrayal of Bela Lugosi (coincidentally a Screen Actors Guild founder) in “Ed Wood.” George Burns becomes the first to receive his 1994 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award on television.
  • President Barry Gordon resigns in July, 1st VP Sumi Haru becomes acting President
  • Richard Masur elected SAG President in November.


  • February 24: 2nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Santa Monica Civic Center. 1995 Life Achievement Award presented, in absentia, to Robert Redford.
  • First SAG website launched in December.


  • February 22: 3rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  1996 Life Achievement Award presented to Angela Lansbury.
  • Richard Masur re-elected SAG National president.


  • January 25: 4th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  1997 Life Achievement Award presented, in absentia, to Elizabeth Taylor.
  • Guild supports Personal Privacy Protection Act
  • SAG and AFTRA send first-ever merger referendum to their respective memberships
  • SAG pro-merger slogan is "Times have changed, so must we."


  • March 7: 5th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. 1998 Life Achievement Award presented to Kirk Douglas.
  • SAG/AFTRA merger defeated as 67.6% of AFTRA members vote "yes" but only 46.49% of SAG members vote to approve
  • SAG officially changes term "extra" to "background actor"
  • SAG releases commissioned report "Missing in Action: Latinos in and Out of Hollywood"
  • First public digital motion picture screenings held for paying audiences
  • SAG and Directors Guild of America release jointly-commissioned report "The Economic Impact of U.S. Film and Television Runaway production"
  • Large Runaway Production rally in Hollywood
  • Incumbent SAG National president Richard Masur defeated by challenger William Daniels.


  • March 12: 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  1999 Life Achievement Award presented to Sidney Poitier
  • May 1: Commercials Strike begins, and will officially end October 30th
  • June 4: Hollywood Membership Meeting at Sheraton Universal Hotel. Former Guild president, Ed Asner presented with the Ralph Morgan Award by former Lou Grant co-star Daryl Anderson. Asner tells the crowd of 1,400 members “I believe in unionism...I believe when we find ourselves blessed with good fortune, we must answer to a higher standard of caring. We pass this way once, and how we behave along the way is who we turn out to have been all along”
  • May 24, Guild releases report "Still Missing: Latinos in and Out of Hollywood," with the cooperation of The Tomás Rivera Policy Institute (TRPI), commissioned by the Screen Actors Guild- Producers Industry Advancement And Cooperative Fund (IACF), and followed by the "African-American Television Report" on June 7
  • The Affirmative Action Department Performers With Disabilities Committee co-sponsors first Annual Disability Talent Showcase October 15.


  • January 15: National Executive Director Ken Orsatti retires
  • January 25: “CastSAG” debuts on the internet at
  • March 11:  7th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2000 Life Achievement Award presented to Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
  • June 25: John Cooke officially announced as the Guild’s new National Executive Director/CEO, but resigns July 5 before taking office
  • September 10: A. Robert “Bob” Pisano hired as National Executive Director/CEO
  • September 11: terrorists hijack four U.S. airplanes which crash into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in DC and a Pennsylvania field
  • October 3: Reorganization Plan approved by National Board of Directors. It will be approved by a future membership vote, and go into effect in Fall 2002, when the entire National Board will stand for reelection for 69 positions, plus the offices of President and Secretary-Treasurer, bringing the national Board seat total to 71
  • November 2: Melissa Gilbert elected Guild President
  • November 5: Screen Actors Guild Foundation launches “Conversations” series with first guest Camryn Manheim.


  • January 7: November 2001 election to be partially rerun as a decision is handed down by the Guild’s National Elections Committee on Challenges to the 2001 National Officer Election: “The election of the top three national officers is set aside and a rerun directed.”
  • February 11: ballots mailed for first rerun election in Guild history
  • February 25: Guild announces a proposed agreement with the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) and the National Association of Talent Representatives (NATR)
  • March 9 results of the election rerun are in, and the same three candidates win once more: President: Melissa Gilbert; Recording Secretary: Elliott Gould; Treasurer: Kent McCord
  • March 10:  8th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2001 Life Achievement Award presented to former Guild president Edward Asner
  • April 19: proposed Agency Franchise Agreement voted down by the Guild membership. 54.48% opposed the proposed agreement, and 45.52% were in favor
  • May 1: Global Rule 1, requiring members “to ensure that a producer is a SAG signatory and to get a SAG contract wherever they work in order to get the protections of SAG’s agreements, even when working outside of the United States” becomes effective.
  • May 1 2002: Kevin Spacey supports Global Rule One launch


  • February 8: Consolidation Plan: at joint videoconference meeting, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) National Boards of Directors overwhelmingly approve a resolution to adopt a plan to consolidate the unions. Plan calls for the creation of umbrella union [AIMA] and three affiliates: Actors, Broadcasters and Recording Artists
  • March 9:  9th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2002 Life Achievement Award presented, in absentia, to Clint Eastwood.
  • March 19: United States declares war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein
  • May 1: toll-free phone number debuts today for all members nationwide. Members can now call 1-800-SAG-0767 (1-800-724-0767) from anywhere in the country to reach a Guild office.
  • First anniversary of Global Rule 1: by end of 2003 it has “…provided a boost to SAG Pension & Health contributions totaling over $4 million to date”
  • July 1: Consolidation barely voted down by Screen Actors Guild membership as 42.22% of voting members opposed the consolidation while 57.78% supported it. Passage required a 60% “yes” vote by the membership of both the Guild and AFTRA
  • August 4: Guild launches “State Statutes Database for Young Performers” on website
  • September 23: Melissa Gilbert re-elected National President
  • September 30 New York Governor George Pataki signs Child Performers Education and Trust Act of 2003, which will become effective March 28, 2004
  • October 7: Screen Actors Guild member elected Governor of the State of California for second time in history: Arnold Schwarzenegger (Ronald Reagan was first, in 1966)
  • October 27: “Dues Online” debuts this morning, and the first two members have already paid their dues through it before noon.
  • New York members, staff, legislator, support signing of 2003 Child Performers Act


  • Feb 22:  10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Shrine Exposition Center. 2003 Life Achievement Award presented to Karl Malden
  • March 18: Guild and AFTRA members overwhelmingly ratify one-year extension of the current Television/Motion Picture and AFTRA Exhibit A agreements
  • March 28: Child Performer Education and Trust Act of 2003 becomes New York law today.
  • April 28: SAG and CBS partner on the first Performers With Disabilities Showcase
  • May 1: By this second anniversary of Global Rule One, it has produced over $120 million in additional member earnings, plus $6 million more to the Guild's Pension and Health funds; over 200% increase in two years
  • June 5:  former Guild president and United States President Ronald Reagan dies.
  • June 24, President Melissa Gilbert issues a statement after the United States Court of Appeals ruling to block the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) plans to expand the number of radio and TV stations that one media company can own in one market: “This ruling is a victory not only for creative artists who are employed by media companies, but for the viewing public. This is a battle to protect the public airwaves, ensure a diversity of viewpoints in the media and defend workers' rights. Screen Actors Guild is proud to be a part of this critical fight and we commend the appeals court for today’s decision.”
  • July 13: Guild auctions rights to seven feature films to recover residual payments owed members, at its first-ever public foreclosure auction.
  • July 19: Guild announces first-ever criminal charges filed, against an individual, for scamming aspiring actors by promising Guild membership through work as “audience fillers” for live studio shows.
  • August 20: Screen Actors Guild Foundation announces launch of its Casting Access Project
  • April 28 2004: first Casting Showcase for Performers with Disabilities.
  • September 22:  Guild receives a diversity award in New York from the American Advertising Foundation for seeing more racial and ethnic inclusion in film and TV.
  • October 6:  Guild releases statistics showing continuing drop in member employment due to proliferation of “reality” shows. Employment down 1.9% in 2003 over 2002.


  • January 1:  SB 1687, the “California Advance Talent Service Act” anti-scam legislation, co-sponsored by the Guild, goes into effect today.
  • Feb 5:  11th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Shrine Exposition Center. 2004 Life Achievement Award presented to James Garner
  • March 6:  AFTRA National Executive Director Greg Hessinger named the Screen Actors Guild National Executive Director/CEO to succeed A. Robert “Bob” Pisano on May 2.
  • July 26:  actor Robert David Hall announces results of first-of-its kind study:  “The Employment of Performers with Disabilities in the Entertainment Industry” which reveals statistics including fact that 54 million Americans (20%) have mental a or physical disability, but less than 2% of TV show characters display a disability and only 0.5% have speaking roles.
  • July 27:  Melissa Gilbert elected to second term on AFL-CIO Executive Council.
  • August 22:  Guild announces successful lobbying of NY Governor George Pataki has resulted in veto allow talent managers to secure work for actors without the restrictions that cover talent agents.
  • August 25:  Hurricane Katrina touches down in Florida and will wreak increasing havoc over the next several days as it moves through the Gulf coast states of Missisippi, Alabama and Louisiana.  Guild has about 900 members in the affected states.
  • September 23:  Alan Rosenberg Elected National President


  • January 29:  12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2005 Life Achievement Award presented to Shirley Temple Black
  • April: TV on mobile phones: Guild signs first “mobisode” agreement for popular TV series Lost
  • September: Guild members vote to extend Commercials Contract for two years
  • November: Alan Rosenberg elected to AFL-CIO Executive Council


  • January 8: Doug Allen, former assistant executive director of the National Football League Players Association, becomes the Guild's new national executive director and chief negotiator
  • January 28:  13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center. 2006 Life Achievement Award presented to Julie Andrews
  • October 25: the Guild receives an “Award of Excellence” star alongside Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame
  • November 5: Writers Guild of America, East and West, goes on strike.

2008 – the Guild’s 75th anniversary year

  • January 27: 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2007 Life Achievement Award presented to Charles Durning
  • February: AFTRA granted a direct charter from the American Federation of Labor
  • February 12:  Writers Guild of America members vote to end the strike after 14 weeks
  • March 4: Guild launches and hosts its first online casting service:  iActor
  • April 15: Guild begins TV/Theatrical contract negotiations with AMPTP
  • May 6th AMPTP suspends TV/Theatrical negotiations with the Guild and resumes May 27th
  • Guild TV/Theatrical agreement expires July 1
  •  “I AM PWD” campaign launched by Actors’ Equity, AFTRA and SAG to promote equal employment opportunities for performers with disabilities in entertainment and news media.
  • Financial meltdown hits the U.S. in September launching the “Great Recession”


  • January 25: 15th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2008 Life Achievement presented to James Earl Jones. First award for Stunt Ensemble also presented.
  • January 26: SAG national Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen succeeded by the Guild’s former chief counsel, David White, as Interim National Executive Director.
  • June 9:  Guild members ratify the two-year TV/Theatrical contracts, covering film and digital television programs, motion pictures and new media productions.
  • Sept. 24: Ken Howard elected national president
  • October 11: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs Assembly Bill 1319 for closer regulation of talent services and more protection for young performers. Guild contributes to drafting of the bill.
  • October 18:  Interim National Executive Director David White appointed National Executive Director


  • January 23: 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2009 Life Achievement Award presented to Betty White.
  • March 24:  the Guild joins other entertainment unions and organizations including AFTRA, DGA, IATSE and MPAA in writing President Barack Obama to urge protections against growing problem of online theft of copyrighted works.


  • January 30: 17th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at Los Angeles Shrine Exposition Center.  2010 Life Achievement Award presented to Ernest Borgnine.
  • July 6:  Guild announces partnership with AFTRA, the DGA, the IATSE, CBS, NBC Universal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Viacom, Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Entertainment in forming Creative America in response to the growing problem of copyrighted content theft/online piracy.