Oral Histories

Interview of Jack Dales

Executive secretary of the Screen Actors Guild.
Pragmatic Leadership: Ronald Reagan as President of the Screen Actors Guild
Governmental History Documentation Project - Ronald Reagan Era
Politics and Government
Film and Television
Biographical Note:
Executive secretary of the Screen Actors Guild.
Tuchman, Mitch
Dales, Jack
Persons Present:
Dales and Tuchman.
Place Conducted:
Dales's home in West Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Mitch Tuchman, freelance consultant, UCLA Oral History Program; BA, Sociology, Occidental College. M.Ph., Ph.D., Sociology, Yale University.Tauchman, having written articles for Oui, Film Comment, and Penthouse on Ronald and Nancy Reagan's film careers, having worked intermittently on a history of the motion picture labor movement, and having interviewed Dales five years earlier (for the Oui article), was familiar with the general outlines of Ronald Reagan's Screen Actors Guild presidency. Prior'to the present interview, the interviewer spent several days reviewing files and back issues of Screen Actor at the Guild's offices on Sunset Boulevard. From these sources he compiled lists of issues and outcomes of the various contract negotiations in which both Reagan and Dales had been involved as well as notes on the historical contexts in which these negotiations took place. Copies of these outlines were presented to Dales before the taping began.
Processing of Interview:
Editing was done by Bernard Galm, senior editor, Oral History Program. He checked the verbatim transcript, which the interviewer had prepared, against the original tape recordings and edited for punctuation, paragraphing, correct spelling, and verification of proper and place names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed.Dales reviewed the unedited transcript, making a few clarifications.Steve Stern, senior editor, Oral History Program, reviewed the edited transcript before it was typed in final form. Frontal matter and index were prepared by Oral History Program staff.
2.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
Interviews in this series were undertaken by the UCLA Oral History Program in conjunction with similar efforts at the University of California, Berkeley, Regional Oral History Office; Claremont Graduate School Oral History Program; California State University, Fullerton, Oral History Program; and the University of California, Davis, Oral History Project. Funds were provided by the state legislature through the office of the state archivist. The project was an outgrowth of earlier efforts of the Regional Oral History Office to document Earl Warren, Goodwin Knight and Edmund G. "Pat Brown, Sr., eras in California politics. All interviews in the series are deposited at each of the participating institutions and at the California State Archives in Sacramento. A full listing of interviews on the Reagan era can be located at the Regional Oral History Office. Individual efforts are listed in the catalogs of the various participating programs.
Contract versus freelance employment for actors--Ronald Reagan as Screen Actors Guild (SAG) board alternate--SAG Veteran Services Committee--SAG delegation to 1946 American Federation of Labor convention: Robert Montgomery, Gene Kelly, Reagan. The Conference of Studio Unions versus the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE): clarifying jurisdiction -­ Reagan addresses the SAG membership: "[He] was masterful"--Reagan assumes SAG presidency--SAG negotiating team--Congressional hearings: "radicals" in the film industry--SAG's position on blacklisting.
Blacklisting and loyalty oaths--First television contract negotiations--A union shop, a no-strike clause--"Runaway production"--Reagan as negotiator: aggressive, yet realistic--Effectof SAG presidency on Reagan's acting career-­ The powers and limitations of the presidency--Negotiating television residuals: Reagan challenges Hal Roach--Negotiation strategy-­ Reagan leaves office (1952)--Nancy Reagan on SAG board--Reagan returns to office (1959)-­ SAG strikes over television residuals-­ Producers offer pension-welfare fund--IATSE refuses strike support: an "old-fashioned fistfight"--Strike settlement, Reagan leaves office(1960).
What must a leader among actors be?--SAG's conservative board members--Music Corporation of America's unusual contract--Reagan's relationship with Roy Brewer--Reagan as listener, as decision maker--Reagan's relationship with William Holden, George Murphy--Was Reagan xenophobic?--"The American public got exactly what it saw."