Dancing On The Grave Of #50 And On The Legacy Of A Spiritual Hymm
This brilliant piece from the RU4sagmerger website.
March 31, 2012 Posted by REJ
James Cagney: Iconic figure in the entertainment business and in the history of the Screen Actors Guild. Joined SAG in 1933 with the membership number of 50. Served on the board for 10 years, was a first vice president of SAG and later served as president from 1942 to 1944.
In 1933, high profile and highly compensated studio stars like Ralph Morgan, Eddie Cantor and James Cagney met secretly, in fear of retribution from studio heads, to create what was, prior to 2008, the most powerful and respected talent union in the world. Although their lives were threatened and property and careers damaged, they did not back down. They fought the good fight not just for their own needs but for those who could not or would not fight for themselves.
As an actor, James Cagney was known to look out for the “little guy.” On several occasions he would feign illness, leaving movie sets early in order to extend the shooting schedule to provide more working days for the lower wage earners in his cast and crew.
As SAG president, his life was repeatedly threatened when he refused to back down from attempts by the “mob” to turn Hollywood into their playground and 20th century ATM.
James Cagney was not only a amazing actor, he was a true unionist who looked out for all actors, regardless of their station in life. He was afraid of no one. He loved actors and the acting profession. To Cagney it was a respectable, blue collar way to make a living. At the height of his career, he successfully sued Warner Brothers for breach of contract and was forever referred to by Jack Warner as the “Professional Againster.”
On March 30th, 2012, the Screen Actors Guild died. On March 30th, 1986, James Cagney died. On March 30th, 2012, those responsible for the death of SAG rejoiced in the James Cagney Board Room. Standing on “apple boxes” ( probably the first time Roberta Reardon ever saw an apple box), merger zealots cheered and shuffled with joy. They even sang the highly respected and treasured Negro spiritual, “We Shall Overcome.” No, we are not kidding. They actually had the nerve to sing a song that represents the horrific struggles African Americans experienced just to be considered equal in this country. This hymm/anthem, traditionally sung to calm the nerves and sooth the pain of those who witnessed lynchings, burnings and rapes stemming from pure racial hatred is not to be messed with. One can’t think of Martin Luther King Jr, Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, the March On Selma and the Freedom Riders without hearing the beautiful notes of”We Shall Overcome” in ones mind. But these idiots, these truly ignorant and out of touch phonies thought singing a hymm that is, at least in the African American community, as sacred as”God Bless America”, was appropriate and timely.
Newly elected SAG-AFTRA Executive Vice President Ned Vaughn, stated defiantly on March 30th, 2012, that James Cagney would be proud of what Vaughn and his partners in crime had achieved. He opined Cagney would have supported professional actors merging with news readers, reality stars, weather-casters and disc jockeys. James Cagney supporting a merger where a significant number of members will be allowed to earn a very comfortable living by working non union with impunity? We seriously doubt it.
Celebrating the death of SAG on the anniversary of the death of SAG’s 50th member and 3rd president, in the James Cagney Board Room, while singing a song that has been sung after the violent deaths of some of the most respected civil rights leaders in American History, by a cabal of arrogantly duplicitous and rank “unionist”, made many collectively regurgitate in their mouths.
To Ken Howard, Roberta Reardon, Ned Vaughn and all of the merger zombies who gathered in the James Cagney Board Room on March 30th, 2012, to congratulate themselves for creating what will soon be known as one of the most compliant, producer-friendly and fractured talent unions in recent history…. Leave James Cagney and “We Shall Overcome” alone. Please.
Personally, to those responsible for the “selling out” of our beloved Screen Actors Guild, my response is a tad more visceral, I would rather reference Mr. Cagney’s screen actor’s persona and say to them “You, you, you Dirty Rats!”
The Ol’ Watchdog