• Edward Arnold, popular character actor, elected SAG president succeeding Ralph Morgan.
  • Lawrence Tibbett, opera star, elected AFRA national president, succeeding Eddie Cantor.
  • Merger: SAG’s stated merger plans of "1940 Goal: One Big Union" do not happen.
  • HUAC: Special Committee on Un-American Activities, headed by Rep. Martin Dies, comes to Hollywood to expose alleged Communist influences in movies.
  • SAG works on autonomy plan for extras.
  • Television: Equity, AFRA and SAG decide jurisdiction over development of TV will be shared jointly.
  • 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 re-elected SAG president.
  • Lawrence Tibbett re-elected AFRA national president
  • SAG fights four anti-labor bills in Sacramento
  • First strike: June 20, 1941 - AFRA begins its first strike, a local one, against radio station WKRC Cincinnati, part of the Mutual Broadcasting System.
  • Reagan: Ronald Reagan joins SAG Board on July 14: as a temporary replacement for actress Heather Angel. Motion to approve him made by Guild founding member Lucile Webster Gleason, seconded by Elizabeth Risdon. Reagan attends his first SAG board meeting August 11.
  • California senator Jack Tenney, chair of the California Legislature's Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities, opens brief hearings on "reds" in Hollywood, with Herbert K. Sorrell of the Motion Picture Painters testifying.
  • Herbert Sorrell, who had organized a strike against Walt Disney Studios by the Screen  Cartoonists Guild (a subsidiary of Motion Picture Painters),  organizes Conference of Studio Unions (CSU) as alternative to IATSE.
  • WWII: Japan moves into French Indochina.
  • WWII: Roosevelt freezes Japan's U.S. assets and halts trade between the two.
  • WWII: December 7: Japanese navy bombs US naval base in Pearl Harbor Hawai’i.
  • WWII: U.S. declares war on Japan, then Germany and Italy, and enters World War II.


  • James Cagney, Warner Bros. movie star elected Screen Actors Guild president in September, succeeding Edward Arnold
  • Lawrence Tibbett re-elected AFRA national president.
  • Reagan/WWII: 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.
  • Movie star Jane Wyman, wife of Ronald Reagan, elected to three-year term on board.
  • WWII: SAG Executive Secretary Kenneth Thomson becomes chair of the Hollywood Victory Committee.


  • Diversity: In March, Academy Award-winning actress Hattie McDaniel requests the Guild form a committee to discuss the problems faced by black performers in films.
  • “de Havilland Decision”: Olivia de Havilland sues Warner Bros. August 23 for extending her contract beyond its seven year term.
  • Background actors/extras: SAG 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.
  • Background actors/extras: Group of extra members 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.
  • SAG co-founder Kenneth Thomson resigns as executive secretary, and is replaced by Assistant Executive Secretary John L. “Jack” Dales at year's end.


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


  • George Murphy re-elected SAG president
  • Lawrence Tibbett re-elected AFRA national president
  • “de Havilland Decision”: Supreme Court hands down "de Havilland Decision," declaring studios may no longer hold contract players more than seven years.
  • Background actors/extras: NLRB orders new hearing on Screen Players Union.
  • Background actors/extras: Screen Extras Guild formed, with support of SAG and  receives Associated Actors and Artistes of America 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 the IA’s Roy M. Brewer to Hollywood to investigate CSU situation.
  • WWII: 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.
  • WWII: April 28: Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini captured and executed. German fascist dictator Adolph Hitler commits suicide April 30.
  • WWII: 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.
  • Reagan: December 9: Ronald Reagan separated from active stateside military duty with 18th Army Air Forces Base Unit in Culver City, CA, and resumes his SAG board involvement two months later.


  • Robert Montgomery elected SAG president in September, succeeding George Murphy. Ronald Reagan elected 3rd VP. Reagan will soon impress Guild board with his handling of the CSU strike situation.  Reagan, had been chosen as temporary board replacement for actor Rex Ingram on February 11, and for horror film star Boris Karloff in March.
  • Ken Carpenter, nationally-known announcer, based in Los Angeles succeeds Lawrence Tibbett as AFRA national president.
  • AFRA Treasurer and Assistant Executive Secretary George Heller succeeds Emily Holt as National Executive Secretary.
  • Communism: California Legislature's Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities attempts to prove CSU leader Herb Sorrell is a Communist Party member.
  • Communism: March 5: Winston Churchill makes famous "Iron Curtain" speech.
  • Background actors/extras Screen Extras Guild Certified by NLRB.
  • June 17: SAG 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.
  • “Conflict-of-Interest,” Diversity: new SAG resolutions proposed at annual meeting September 15. SAG  membership votes in favor of adopting conflict-of-interest bylaw, which will end up reducing the number of stars on the board starting in March 1947: "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.”


  • Ronald Reagan, Warner Bros movie star and SAG 3rd VP, becomes Screen Actors Guild president at March 10, 1947 SAG board of directors meeting, after resignation of Robert Montgomery. Reagan nominated for presidency by Gene Kelly. Secret ballot vote by the Board of Directors sees Reagan emerge as the choice to replace Montgomery over the two nominees, Kelly and George Murphy. Reagan informed of his election after he arrives at the board meeting from an American Veterans Committee meeting he had been attending.
  • Ken Carpenter re-elected AFRA national president.
  • Before commencement of the 1947 negotiations, seven of the Guild's most prominent board members also submit their resignations, due to the conflict-of-interest by-law enacted in September of ‘46: James Cagney, Franchot Tone, Dick Powell, Harpo Marx, John Garfield and Dennis O'Keefe.
  • Taft-Hartley: 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 President Truman's veto.
  • Taft-Hartley: SAG and AFRA officers sign notarized non-Communist affidavits — a requirement of the new Taft-Hartley law.
  • HUAC: The latest House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings begin in Washington, D.C. The chairman is New Jersey congressman J. Parnell Thomas, a Republican, and future U.S. President Richard M. Nixon is also a committee member. A year later, Thomas will be indicted on payroll fraud charges, convicted and sent to prison in 1949.
  • HUAC/”Hollywood Ten”: 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 of the Ten were current or former members of the American 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).
  • HUAC: SAG President Ronald Reagan and former presidents George Murphy and Robert Montgomery testify before HUAC as "friendly witnesses.” 
  • HUAC: Ronald Reagan, acting president since March 10, is elected SAG president on November 16. Within a month his wife, board member Jane Wyman, asks for a separation.
  • HUAC: November 24: Hollywood Ten found guilty of contempt of court.
  • HUAC/Blacklisting: Studio heads fire Hollywood Ten for refusing to cooperate with HUAC.


  • Ronald Reagan re-elected SAG president.
  • Clayton “Bud” Collyer, announcer and voice actor including as Clark Kent/Superman in radio’s The Adventures of Superman, elected AFRA national president.
  • Television becomes major AFRA and SAG jurisdictional issue
  • Communism/Russia: Soviet Union invades Czechoslovakia
  • Hollywood Studio System: 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 holdings. 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.
  • Studio contract players drop to 463 in 1948, a 37 percent decline
  • Communism/Russia: Soviet Union blockades 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 for TV broadcast.
  • Television: Kenneth Thomson, SAG co-founder and first executive secretary, returns to SAG employment in newly-created position of TV administrator.


  • Ronald Reagan re-elected SAG president.
  • Bud Collyer re-elected AFRA national president.
  • Jurisdiction problem over television will draw edge between SAG and AFRA.
  • Merger/TV jurisdiction: Filmed TV jurisdiction becomes major SAG issue, as Screen Actors Guild and Screen Extras Guild decline joining the newly-created Television Authority (TVA) of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America. SAG announces it will organize filmed television on its own. Unions joining TVA are Actors’ Equity, Chorus Equity, AGVA, AGMA – and AFRA. George Heller, AFRA executive secretary, chosen to head the Television Authority (TVA) of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, December 7.  Heller declares he looks at TVA as “…a dress rehearsal for merger.”
  • Communism/Russia: Soviet Union explodes its first atomic bomb.
  • SAG membership drops to lowest level since recognition: 6,533
  • Communism/China: Communists, led by Mao-Tse-tung, declare victory in mainland China.

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