“The first time I saw him he couldn’t have been much more than sixteen years old, a little ferret of a kid, sharp and quick.”
Thus begins Schulberg’s novel What Makes Sammy Run? A satire of the movie business so accurate Hollywood is afraid to make a movie of it 68 years after it was published.
A planned DreamWorks production featuring Ben Stiller was in development in recent years. “I have a feeling they’re not going to do it,” Mr. Schulberg said in 2006. “It’s still a little tough for them.”
At the time it was published the movie studio heads were so incensed that Schulberg was blacklisted in Hollywood. In a biography of Samuel Goldwyn, writer Arthur Marx reports Goldwyn offered to pay Schulberg not to publish Sammy.
In time Schulberg played a part in blacklisting others. In the 1950s he testified as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee investigating allegations of Communism in the motion picture industry. He named Hollywood colleagues as Communists. He defended himself by saying he named only people already known to the red-baiting committee.
Schulberg also wrote the movie On The Waterfront – an astoundingly good look at being poor in America. As well as some great reporting on boxing gathered together in the book The Harder They Fall. He was later voted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as an “observer,” a category established for journalists and historians.
After the riots in Watts in 1965, Schulberg co-founded the Watts Writers Workshop and edited a compilation of stories, "From the Ashes: Voices of Watts." A supporter of Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, he was among the last to speak with Kennedy before RFK’s assassination in Los Angeles.