April 14, 2024

The Robert Meltzer Award

The Writers Guild of America West's Robert Meltzer Award honors one act of bravery by remembering another, recognizing an artist's singular act of courage in defense of freedom of expression and the rights of writers everywhere.

This Guild award is named after the late screenwriter Robert Meltzer, an uncredited writer on The Great Dictator, who had collaborated on a project with director Orson Welles before he left for Europe during WWII and died following the Normandy Invasion in the Battle for Brest.

Originally created after WWII to honor those writers killed during the war, the award was presented four times to recognize scripts which best depicted "problems of the American scene." Yet the prestigious award was soon shrouded in the looming shadow of the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings, when Meltzer was named and posthumously blacklisted, signaling the end of the award in 1951 for forty years.

1951 - Robert Buckner (Bright Victory)
1950 - Carl Foreman (The Men)
1949 - Robert Rossen (All the King's Men)
1948 - Frank Partos and Millen Brand (Snake Pit)

The Meltzer Award was re-established in 1991 "in recognition of a singular act of courage in defense of freedom of expression and the rights of the writer."

2004 - Mike Barker, Rob Cohen, David Goodman, Jonathan Groff, Cheryl Holliday, Vanessa McCarthy, Glasgow Phillips, John Pollack, Jon Ross, Ron Weiner, Matt Weitzman, Jean Yu (In recognition of extraordinary courage shown in their efforts to advance animation organizing.)

1999 - Paul Jarrico (In recognition of his tireless work to restore blacklisted writers' credits to the films on which they worked.)

1991 - Kirk Douglas (In recognition of his action in 1960 to ensure that Dalton Trumbo received screen credit for writing Spartacus.)

READ ALSO: How a little known writer became the inspiration for a Writers Guild Award honoring courage.