Person - Bessie, Alvah Cecil (1904-1985)

Bessie, Alvah Cecil (1904-1985)




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Bessie, Alvah Cecil (1904-1985)Other forms

Fechas de existencia:

New York  1904-06-04 - 1985-07-21


Cecil Alvah Bessie was born in New York City on June 4, 1904. He graduated from Columbia University in 1924 with a B.A. in English. He started working as an actor but he left the theater and traveled to France in 1928 in intent on becoming a writer. There, he worked at the Paris-Times, and wrote "Redbird", his first published short story.

He returned to US in 1929 and published short stories and essays at The New Republic, Scribner's, Atlantic Monthly, Saturday Review of Literature, Collier's and Story. In 1935, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for his first novel “Dwell in the Wilderness”. Afterwards, he joined the staff of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, serving as drama and book editor.

On January 22, 1938, Bessie sailed to Spain aboard the “Lafayette” to join the International Brigades. He was assigned to a front-line combat unit with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, participating in the Ebro offensive from July to September 1938. He also served as a correspondent for the International Brigade's publication The Volunteer for Liberty.

Back home, he wrote “Men in Battle” based on his memories from the war. He was film and theatre critic for the New Masses, and wrote a regular column for a Young Communist League publication. During the Second World War he served as Second Lieutenant in the Squadron 3 of the Civil Air Patrol in Los Angeles. He also worked as a writer for the Warner Brothers in California. In 1945, his original story that was the basis for the screenplay of "Objective Burma" was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1945, he was nominated for an Academy Award for best original story by the patriotic film Warner “Objective Burma”. His other screen credits from this time include "Hotel Berlin", "The Very Thought of You", "Northern Pursuit", and "Smart Woman."

In September 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee launched an investigation on the influence of the Communist Party in the motion-picture industry. Bessie was called to testify but he, along with nine other Hollywood figures, refused to comply with the Committee's demands. Cited for contempt of Congress, they were given one-year prison sentences, and became known as the "Hollywood Ten".

After prison, he found employment with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union as editor. In 1951 he edited “The Heart of Spain”, an anthology of writings on the Spanish Civil War published and distributed by the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (VALB). He also worked as stage manager and lighting technician, an experience that inspired the novel “One for My Baby”. In 1968, he also collaborated on the Spanish film “España otra vez”.

Before he could complete work on “Our Fight”, a VALB anthology devoted to the writings of Lincoln Brigade veterans, Bessie died on July 21, 1985.

Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

Date of the event: 1936 - 1939






Lugar de Residencia:

Estados Unidos

Lugar de Nacimiento:

New York in 1904-06-04

External Links

recurso web:

Alba Volunteer

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Recurso web:

El Mundo

Recurso web:

El País

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Recurso web:

Los Ángeles Times

Recurso web:

The volunteer

Catálogo de Autoridades:


Catálogo de Autoridades:


Fichero de Autoridades:

Biblioteca Nacional de España


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