University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent Hartnett Case Records, 1939-1982

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Faulk, John Henry
Title: John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent HartnettCase Records
Dates: 1939-1982
Abstract: The John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A Johnson and Vincent Hartnett Case Records documents the landmark libel suit involving Faulk (b. 1913), a radio and television personality in the 1950s, and an anticommunist organization that blacklisted entertainment personalities for allegedly subversive views. Collection, donated by Faulk's attorney Louis Nizer, consists of materials created by Faulk's attorneys, court records, trial transcripts, depositions, correspondence, and printed materials used for research and as trial exhibits.
OCLC No.: 741761110
Accession No.: 83-009; 87-045
Extent: 12 ft., 6 in.
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Historical Note

A native Texan and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, John Henry Faulk began a successful career in the entertainment industry as a folklorist and humorist in 1946, when he joined WCBS in New York City. In 1956, Faulk, an outspoken supporter of civil liberties, was elected as Second Vice President of the New York chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). A central plank of Faulk's platform condemned AWARE, Inc., a right-wing organization that specialized in blacklisting entertainment personalities for alleged pro-communist views and associations. His staunch opposition drew the wrath of AWARE, which accused Faulk of consorting with “subversives” and engaging “un-American activities.” Faulk denied the allegations and sued for libel against AWARE; it's co-founder and author of the entertainment publication Red Channels, Vincent W. Hartnett; and anti-communist activist, Laurence A. Johnson. CBS did not renew Faulk's contract in 1957 from which time until the trial ended in 1962, Faulk could not gain employment in the entertainment industry.

Legal action began in the Supreme Court of the State and County of New York in late 1956. Justice Saul Streit rendered a decision upholding the validity of Faulk's charges. AWARE appealed this ruling, but the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court unanimously sustained Judge Streit's decision declaring the AWARE's accusations libelous.

After a long delay, the trial finally opened on April 23, 1962, in the New York State Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Abraham Geller. Witnesses for Faulk included entertainment and news personalities Tony Randall, Myrna Loy, Kim Hunter, David Susskind, Charles Collingwood, and Gerry Moore. During the trial, Faulk’s attorney Louis Nizer proved the existence of the blacklist and its detrimental impact to Faulk's standard of living. The trial ended with Faulk's vindication by a jury award of $3.5 million, the largest libel award in U.S. legal history at that time. The defendants' appeals resulted in the reduction of the damages to $500,000. Citing the First Amendment protection of free speech, the appellants’ attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, but both the petition and appeal for a rehearing were denied.

Co-defendant Laurence A. Johnson passed away the day the verdict was reached, forcing the court to appoint a temporary administrator. Faulk eventually settled out of court with Johnson's estate for $175,000. Co-defendant Vincent Hartnett became destitute during the trial and appeal proceedings, making it difficult for Faulk to collect damages. This led to the 1965 suit John Henry Faulk v. Paul Milton, et al.J, in which Faulk cited the fifteen former members of the board of directors of AWARE, including Hartnett, as liable for the libel against Faulk and therefore required to pay the remainder of the award. The Appellate Division determined the suit failed to demonstrate a cause of action and to meet the statute of limitations.

Faulk traces the story of the lawsuit in his book Fear on Trial, originally published in 1963. The University of Texas Press published a new edition in 1982. In an effort to atone for its complicity in blacklisting Faulk, CBS aired a dramatized version of Fear on Trial, starring William Devane and George C. Scott, in 1975. Ironically, Vincent Hartnett unsuccessfully sued CBS and Faulk for libel over the film's depiction of him.

Scope and Contents

The John Henry Faulk v. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A. Johnson, and Vincent Hartnett Case Records, 1939-1982, document the landmark libel lawsuit regarding the blacklisting of John Henry Faulk during the Red Scare of the 1950s. The collection consists primarily of the legal records created by Faulk's attorneys Louis Nizer, Paul Martinson, and George Berger during the course of the trial and appeals proceedings. Additionally, a large portion of non-legal materials collected by Faulk’s attorneys for informational purposes serve as evidence of the existence of the blacklist in the entertainment world for the suit.

Arranged into five series, the records trace the progress of the lawsuit, appeals, and Faulk's autobiographical account of the trial. The Pre-Trial series, 1942-1962, consists of correspondence, memoranda, and research materials used by the attorneys in preparation for the trial as well as exhibits from and transcripts of the plaintiff’s examination before trial of defendants. Documenting the 1962 trial proceedings, the John Henry Faulk v. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A. Johnson, and Vincent Hartnett series, 1945-1963, comprises lists, notes, memoranda, exhibits, photographs, trial transcripts, correspondence, and supplementary proceedings. The John Henry Faulk v. AWARE, Inc., Vincent Hartnett, Lois Wangerman, et al.series, 1939-1968, pertains to the defendants' appeals to the New York State Supreme Court's Appellate Division, New York Court of Appeals, and U.S. Supreme Court; the settlement with the estate of Laurence A. Johnson; and John Henry Faulk v. Vincent W. Hartnett and Doris R. Hartnett. The materials in this series include newspaper clippings, notes, correspondence, briefs, motions, pleadings, death certificates, stipulations, and affidavits. John Henry Faulk v. Paul R. Milton, et al., 1961-1968, composes affidavits, motions, briefs, stipulations, notes, time records, correspondence, and materials relating to the debt collection lawsuit Texaco, Inc. v. John Henry Faulk. Composed of correspondence, printed material, exhibits, affidavits, and research materials, the Fear on Trialseries, 1946-1982, pertains to the publication of the novel, its dramatization by CBS for TV, and the resulting lawsuit against CBS filed by Vincent Hartnett.



The case records are arranged into five series
  • I. Pre-trial
  • II. John Henry Faulk v. AWARE, Inc. Laurence A. Johnson, and Vincent W. Hartnett
  • III. John Henry Faulk v. AWARE, Inc., Vincent Hartnet, and Lois Johnson Wagerman, et al.
  • IV. John Henry Faulk v. Paul R. Milton, et al.
  • V. Fear on Trial


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Index Terms

Subjects (Persons)
Faulk, John Henry -- Trials, litigation, etc.
Nizer, Louis, 1902-1994 -- Archives.
Johnson, Laurence A.-- Trials, litigation, etc.
Hartnett, Vincent -- Trials, litigation, etc.
Subjects (Organizations)
CBS/Broadcast Group (New York, N.Y.)
AWARE, Inc. -- Trials, litigation, etc.
Anti-communism -- United States -- 1950-1960.
Blacklisting of entertainers -- United States--History--Sources.
Trials (Libel)--New York (State)--New York.
New York (N.Y.)
Austin (Tex.)

Related Material

See also the John Henry Faulk Papers

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

John Henry Faulk vs. AWARE, Inc., Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent HartnettCase Records, 1942-1975, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.

Subsequent processing and revisions made by Mark Firmin, October 2011.

Detailed Description of the Papers


Pre-trial 1944-1962

3P236 Correspondence 1956-1962
3P237 Memoranda 1956-1962:
General, 1956-1966
Blacklisting, 1956-1962, undated
Notes, 1959-1962, undated
Press releases, 1956-1962, undated
Research Materials, 1947-1962, undated
Statement taken by Louis Nizer 1956
Literary productions by Vincent Hartnett, 1950-1953, undated
Newspaper clippings, 1953-1958, undated
Reports, 1947-1956, undated
AWARE, Inc. correspondence, 1953-1956, undated
AFTRA resolutions, 1956
Report on investigation of Laurence A. Johnson, 1962
Pleadings, 1956-1962
3P238 Laurence A. Johnson, 1953-1956, 1959, undated
Paul Milton, 1955-1960, undated
3P239 Vincent Hartnett v. John Crosby, New York Herald Tribune, et al., 1950-1956:
John Crosby correspondence and printed materials, 1950-1956
Leslie Barrett correspondence and address, 1955
Printed materials, 1951-1956, undated
3P240 American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), 1953-1961, undated
Exhibits for examination before trial, 1950-1954, undated
Notes on examination before trial, 1950, undated
Vincent Hartnett materials, 1956-1959
Transcript of examination, 1956
3P247 Printed material, 1944-1957:
General, 1951-1952, 1956
General, 1951-1952, 1956
3P250 Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, 1944-1957
2.325/V81 Correspondence from anti-communist groups, 1951-1954
Newsletters from anti-communist groups, 1952-1955
Handwritten notes, [ca. 1956]
3P238 Plaintiff's Examination Before Trial of Defendants, 1953-1961:
Defendants' objections on Vincent Hartnett's examination before trial, 1956-1960:
Defendants' notice of examination of plaintiff, 1956
Plaintiff's motion to vacate defendants' notice of examination before trial, 1956
Plaintiff's motion to strike defenses contained in defendants' answers to amended complaint, 1956-1957
Plaintiff's motion to dismiss second defenses - notice of entry, 1957
Plaintiff's first application, re: defendants' objections on examination of Hartnett, 1958
Stipulations, re: defendants' objections on examination of Hartnett, 1958
Plaintiff's second application, re: defendants' objections on examination of Hartnett, 1959
Plaintiff's fourth motion to strike and third application re: defendants' objections on examination of Hartnett, 1959
Plaintiff's motion to resettle the order entered April 1, 1960, to Mr. Justice Nathan of the Supreme Court of New York, 1960
Defendants' objections of Paul R. Milton's examination before trial, 1960:
Plaintiff's motion to overrule objections made in examination of Milton and for prompt examination of remaining defendant-witnesses, 1960
Plaintiff's motion for an order overruling defendants' objections to certain questions, 1960
Plaintiff's motion to overrule objections in the examination of Laurence Johnson, 1956-1961:
Appeal from order granting plaintiff's motion to strike defenses, 1956
Plaintiff's third application, 1959
Order, re: Johnson, 1961
Plaintiff's motion to strike defenses contained in amended answers to amended complaint, 1956-1961:
Plaintiff's motion to strike out defenses, 1956
Plaintiff's motion to dismiss second and fourth defenses, 1956
Plaintiff's motion to strike defenses contained in amended answers to amended complaint, 1957
Plaintiff's first motion to strike answer, 1958
Defendants' motion to terminate and plaintiff's cross-motion to strike, 1958
Plaintiff's second motion to strike answer, 1959
Plaintiff's third motion to strike answer, 1959
Defendants' second motion to terminate, 1959
Motion to restore calendar, 1961
3P240 Outlines of testimonies and depositions, 1947-1960, undated:
Brief outline of important testimony on deposition of Vincent Hartnett, 1958
References to Johnson in deposition of Hartnett, undated
Memoranda re: changes or "corrections" in Hartnett's testimony, 1960
Related materials re: Faulk's radio shows at WOV and WCBS, 1947-1958
Outline of deposition of Laurence A. Johnson, undated
3P241 Plaintiff's examination before trial of defendants Paul R. Milton and Laurence A. Johnson, 1942-1962, undated:
Research materials, 1942:
"Action Against the Enemy's Mind," by Paul Milton, 1942
Anti-blacklist materials, 1947-1962:
Radio Writers Guild, 1952-1953
Philo Higley, 1947-1952
Philo Higley, 1947-1952
Hugh Cronyn/"Comments Concerning Certain Items of 'Derogatory' Information," 1955
CBS materials, 1952-1962
Exhibits, 1951-1954:
Paul R. Milton, 1951-1955
Laurence A. Johnson, 1952-1954
Subpoenas, 1962
Digest of Paul Milton's deposition, undated
Plaintiff's examination before trial of defendant Vincent Hartnett, 1946-1959:
Exhibits, 1946-1959, undated:
Index to exhibits 1959
Exhibits 1-45, 1947-1956, undated
Exhibits 46A-46Z, 1953-1958
Exhibits 46AA-46AAA, 1952-1957, undated
3P242 Exhibits 47-101, 1952-1957, undated
Exhibits 102-160cc, 1946-1959, undated
Exhibits 161-175, 1952-1957
Exhibits 176-217, CQ, and unidentified, 1949-1958, undated
Transcripts of examination before trial of Vincent W. Hartnett (incomplete), 1958-1959:
June 5-6, 1958
3P243 June 13-December 2, 1958
3P244 December 4, 1958-November 30, 1959
2.325/V94 Duplicate Copy (incomplete)


John Henry Faulk v. AWARE, Inc. Laurence A. Johnson and Vincent W. Hartnett, 1955-1963

3P245 Lists, 1962:
Witnesses 1962
Members of jury 1962
Notes, 1955-1962, undated:
"Law notes for trial," 1958-1962
Notes for trial - George Berger, May 1955-March 31, 1956, June 20, 1962-June 28, 1962, undated
Notes on trial - George Berger, April 23, 1962-May 23, 1962
Notes on trial - George Berger, May 25, 1962-June 19, 1962, undated
Notes on trial - Paul Martinson, undated
3P246 Trial memoranda of law, 1962 and undated:
Plaintiff's memoranda of law, #2-#15, #19, #21-#23, #25, and #28, undated
Plaintiff and defendants' memoranda of law, 1962, undated
Law notes and memoranda of law not submitted, undated
Trial Transcripts, 1956-1963:
Transcript of Special and Trial Term XXX, 1960
Assorted trial transcript pages, 1962
2.325/V95 Vol. I through Vol. VII, 1956-1962
2.325/V96 Vol. VII through Vol. XIV,
2.325/V97 Vol. XIV through Vol. XV,
Indices of trial transcript Vol. XVI and Vol. XVII,
Vol. XV through Vol. XXI,
Assorted trial transcript pages,
2.325/V80 Trial Exhibits, 1945-1962, undated:
Index to exhibits, 1962
Defense exhibits A-Z, 1952-1956
Defense exhibits AA-ZZ, 1948-1956
Defense exhibits AAA-ZZZ, 1946-1962
Defense exhibits AF-DP, 1947-1957
Plaintiff exhibits 1-157, 1945-1962
2.325/V81 Plaintiff exhibits 1-157, 1945-1962
Court exhibits, 1-5, 1962
Unidentified exhibits, 1949-1957, undated
Summary of Evidence, 1962 1962
3S329 Photographs 1951-1956, 1984:
Disc Jockey Awards display, marked defendants' exhibit F, undated
Faulk with other radio entertainers, marked plaintiff's exhibit 8, White Studio photograph, undated
Faulk in five advertising photographs at a supermarket, marked plaintiff's exhibit 16, undated
Faulk receiving a plaque from the Association of Assistant Principals of New York City, 1951
Faulk being presented by two unidentified men a circular tablet with an impression of a child's face, undated
Evening of Fun at Hotel Statler, Ted Burrows photographer, 1956
The Greater New York Fund's First Brooklyn Report Luncheon at Hotel St. George, marked defendants' exhibit 20-D, Publicity Photographers, 1953
Faulk with a representative from the Protestant Welfare Agencies, Inc., and two children, marked defendants' exhibit 20-G, undated
Faulk speaking at the Hotel Roosevelt, Al Levine photograph, undated
Faulk and Patty Painter present a trophy and crown to Roslyn Simon who was selected Queen of the Navy Depot, official US Navy photo, part of plaintiff's exhibit 9, 1952
Faulk with Patty Painter, Roslyn Simon, and two other unidentified trophy winners, official US Navy photo, part of plaintiff's exhibit 9, 1952
Faulk and unidentified man in front of a WPAT microphone, to be delivered to the Herald News, undated
Faulk with two unidentified military men, undated
Faulk sitting in a US military tank, undated
Faulk speaking behind a microphone, official US Navy photo, undated
Faulk on stage with several unidentified men and women, Asbury Park Photo Service, 1954
Faulk kneeling with a group of children and other entertainers, defendants exhibit 35-A, White Studio photograph, undated
Faulk donning a cowboy hat and outfit standing with an unidentified man and woman, undated
University of Texas at Austin News and Information Service press photograph featuring a montage of documents from Faulk v. AWARE, Inc., et al.Case Records, 1984
Supplementary Proceedings, 1957-1964:
Examination of AWARE, Inc., December 27, 1962
Examination of Vincent Hartnett, 1963
Materials received from AWARE, Inc., 1957-1961
Correspondence, May 1962-June 1963
Execution against property of AWARE, Inc., 1964


John Henry Faulk v. AWARE, Inc., Vincent Hartnett, Lois Johnson Wangerman, et al., 1939-1967

3P247 New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division-First Department, 1939-1965, undated:
Correspondence, July 1963-April 1964
Correspondence, July 1963-April 1964
3P248 Law notes, 1958, undated
Memoranda, 1956-1963
Printed materials, 1956-1961
News clippings, 1939-1964
Application for enlargement of time to perfect appeal, 1963
Notices of appeal and agreement, 1962-1963
Corrections re: Record on appeal, 1963
Motions, 1962-1965:
Memoranda and replies to Respondent's motions to dismiss appeal, 1962-1963
Appellants' motions to dispense with printing exhibits, 1963
Appellants' motion to abridge the records, 1963
Notices of motion and cross-motion, 1964
Respondent's motion to vacate stay of execution, 1965
Assorted affidavits, stipulations, memorandum of law, and printed material, 1962-1964 and undated
Briefs, 1963-1964, undated:
Respondent's briefs, undated
Appellants' briefs, undated
Judgments, 1963-1964
3P249 Settlement with Estate of Laurence A. Johnson, 1954-1964:
Correspondence and memoranda, 1962-1963
Proofs of claim, 1963
Will of Laurence A. Johnson, 1954
Death certificate of Laurence A. Johnson, 1962
Motion of summary judgment, 1963-1964
Computations, undated
Drafts and memoranda, 1963
Stipulation of settlement, 1963
John Henry Faulk v. Vincent W. Hartnett and Doris R. Hartnett, 1963-1967, undated:
Correspondence, 1963-1967
Memoranda, 1963, undated
Pleadings, 1963-1967
3P247 New York Court of Appeals, 1964-1967:
Correspondence, April 1964-January 1967
3P249 Appellants' application for leave to appeal to Court of Appeals, 1963-1964
Appellants' appeal to Court of Appeals, 1964
Respondent's motion to dismiss appeal for lack of prosecution, 1964
Brief for defendants - appellants, undated
Brief for defendants - appellants, undated
Reply brief for defendants - appellants, 1964
Brief and supplemental appendix for defendants - appellants, undated
3P250 Appellants' motion for re-argument in Court of Appeals, 1964
Certiorari proceedings in U. S. Supreme Court, 1965


John Henry Faulk v. Paul R. Milton, et al. in New York Supreme Court, 1961-1968:

3P250 Affidavits of service of summons and complaint, 1965
Pleadings, 1965
Defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiff's complaint, 1965
Defendants' motion for stay of all proceedings, 1965
Stipulation staying the order of the Supreme Court of the County of New York, 1965
Defendants' appeal from order denying defendant's motion to dismiss complaint, 1965-1966
Plaintiff's appeal to Court of Appeals, 1966-1967
Stipulation discontinuing action and satisfaction of judgment, 1967-1968
Briefs and records on appeal for Faulk v. Milton, et al., 1965-1967
3P25l Correspondence, 1965-1968
Law notes, 1965-1967
Law notes re: Liability of Directors, undated
Paul Martinson and George Berger's time records, 1961-1967
Texaco, Inc. v. John Henry Faulk, 1965


Fear on Trial, 1946-1982:

2.325/V81 Correspondence,1963-1965, 1975
Correspondence, June 1963-October 1965
Correspondence concerning the depiction of Lynne Gordon Clippings, 1975
Printed material, 1965 and 1975
Vincent C. Hartnett v. CBS, Inc., et al., 1946-1982, undated:
CBS legal department documents concerning the production of Fear on Trial, 1974-1975
CBS legal department correspondence concerning Faulk v. AWARE, Inc. et al., 1956-1962
Verified complaint, 1976
Exhibits, 1946-1976
Assorted research materials, 1946-1982, undated
Affidavit and amended complaint of John Henry Faulk, 1956