Karen Morley

Karen Morley

Mildred Litton (Karen Morley) was born in Iowa on 12th December, 1909. Her family moved to California when she was a child. After attending Hollywood High School she attended the University of California (UCLA).

Morley became an actress and worked at the Pasadena Community Playhouse. She eventually broke into movies and appeared in Inspiration (1931). This was followed by films such as Daybreak (1931), Mata Hari (1931), Flesh (1932), Scarface (1932) and Dinner at Eight (1933).

Morley became involved in politics and was active in various anti-fascist groups in Hollywood. In 1935 she appeared in Our Daily Bread, a film about an attempt to start a farming cooperative. The film was attacked in newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst as being "communistic".

Other films Morley appeared in included Black Fury (1935), Thunder in the Night (1935), Devil's Squadron (1936), Outcast (1937), The Last Train from Madrid (1937), Kentucky (1938) and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

In 1943 Morley married Lloyd Gough . The couple were very active in the Screen Actors Guild. She also made Jealousy(1945), Framed (1947) and M (1951), a film made by Joseph Losey.

After the Second World War the House of Un-American Activities Committee began an investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. The HUAC interviewed 41 people who were working in Hollywood. These people attended voluntarily and became known as "friendly witnesses". Robert Taylor appeared and provided evidence against several people including Karen Morley.

In November 1952 Morley was called before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. She invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked if she was a member of the American Communist League. Blacklisted by the Hollywood studios, Morley was unable to find work and eventually retired from acting.

A member of the American Labor Party she ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant-governor of New York State in 1954. Later she was a left-wing activist in the San Francisco area.

Karen Morley died of pneumonia at Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, on 8th 8th March, 2003.

Karen Morley appearing before theHouse of Un-American Activities Committee in 1952.
Karen Morley appearing before the
House of Un-American Activities Committee in 1952.