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"We were mostly virgin voices in things political," says Jo Davidson. "Most of us had been liberals, which meant that we did a lot of yapping and intellectualizing about things but few of us had ever participated. And until you participate it doesn't count. Liberalism is sort of like Bohemianism, except that a liberal sits thinking in an ivory tower and has liquor and stuff while the Bohemian sits in an attic and starves. They both have their delights but, generally speaking, each is equally impotent."
Participation Plus. Casting about for an outlet for their enthusiasm, the virgins decided to hire Madison Square Garden, stage a Roosevelt rally. Their susceptibility to the fey approach manifested itself at once. To the horror of Democratic National Chairman Bob Hannegan, the group made Henry Wallacewho had recently been cast aside by the Democratic Conventionthe honor guest. But the rally proved that big names could be potent instruments of political expression. Despite the misgivings of Democratic bigwigs, 20,000 jammed the Garden.
A few weeks later (having absently neglected to take up a collection during the first rally) Davidson & Co. proved that famous political dilettantes may also be worth their weight in campaign funds. A thousand people paid $40,000 at a dinner to see Bert Lahr, Joe E. Lewis and Myrna Loy, hear Ethel Merman sing.
When the campaign ended, the Independent Voters' Committee for Roosevelt might well have collapsed. Instead it became ICCASP, went on growing at a great rate, began shouting for international security, full employment and an end to the poll tax.
A good part of this continued vitality flowed from Hollywood, which for years had been itching for something like ICCASP. In the old days a motion picture star had needed nothing but a white Duesenberg and 175 suits to round himself out socially. In the words of Dorothy Parker, there was no "ism" in Hollywood but plagiarism. But modern studio life had become much more complicated. Today few stars, male or female, would be caught at a commissary lunch table without a Cause. Most of them, horrified at the thought of being considered bloated capitalists, favor leftish causes of one kind or another, and at times have struggled over them like redbone hounds chomping possums.
At one point the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League (Rupert Hughes, Gloria Stuart et al.) was the rage. This was followed by the Hollywood Committee for Loyalist Spain (Joan Crawford, Luise Rainer et al.) which was succeeded, in turn, by the Steinbeck Committee for Underprivileged Okies (Helen and Melvyn Douglas et al.). But the advent of the Hollywood Chapter of ICCASP ended most of the uproar, set 3,300 professional exhibitionists to using the same letterhead.
A Few Words. Hollywood's enthusiasm for the Committee is aptly illustrated by short statements granted last week by Screen Idols Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart.
Said Robinson: "I belong to ICCASP because the atom bomb, when it exploded over Hiroshima, blew up every ivory tower in the world. America is in crisis. I am part of the world. I am a citizen of America and caught in this crisis."