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SAG’s McCarthyism on a Stuntwoman

Screen Actor’s Guild’s McCarthyism on a Stuntwoman
Jerry Saravia
May 3, 2011

Women never get treated fairly in the workforce, a Federal Government known fact. Stuntwomen get treated even worse while the Federal Government, the Producers and the Screen Actors Guild turn a blind eye towards this situation. Still, nobody has been treated with as much malignance as stuntwoman Leslie Hoffman, who has been blacklisted by SAG through its past Members of the Board of Directors, including certain stuntmen who, as stunt coordinators, hire the stuntpeople and the Producers.

I’ve known Hoffman on the silver screen, as I am sure many Horror Fans do, from her brief cameo in “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” the 1984 horror classic by director Wes Craven. She played a High School Guard, who is actually Freddy Krueger as she taunts Nancy (Heather Langenkamp) in a dream sequence with the words, “Hey Nancy, No running in the hallway.” Actually, Leslie Hoffman has also had a long run in the movie business as a stuntwoman and stunt coordinator; performing stunts on T.V. series such as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” & “Voyager,” “M*A*S*H,” “Emergency,” “The Love Boat,” “Remington Steele,” and many others. Film credits include everything from 1976’s “Two-Minute Warning” (her first union job that allowed her to join SAG) to “The Naked Gun” where she did a stunt doubling for Queen Elizabeth.

All these early credits enabled Leslie to become the first Stuntwoman to be elected to the Hollywood Board of Directors of SAG (1981-1985), as well as the first Stuntwoman elected to the AFTRA Local Board and AFTRA National Board. It was with the AFTRA National Board where she and Board Member Howard Caine convinced them to create the category of Stuntperson. These titles, unfortunately, came with more handicaps than perks. From the first day that Leslie was elected to the SAG Board of Directors position, she was vilified, lied to and made to seem as if she couldn’t handle the job single-handedly. This was mainly due to her gender, thus she became BLACKLISTED. “Due to the stuntman who was finishing out his term, spreading vicious rumors about me, it seriously compromised my ability to work with the Board of Directors because many of them tainted me. A stuntman was brought in to ‘complement me and to help me do my job’, which is normally handled by one person,” said Leslie during our phone interview. Edward Asner, an actor and liberal activist (best known for playing Lou Grant), was President of SAG from 1981-1985 and did little to help Leslie at all. In fact, “He sided with the stuntmen, conveniently stopping me from helping Stuntwomen and Stuntpeople of Color,” said Leslie. “As well as making sure actors were kept safe.“

Read more @ Jerry Saravia’s thoughts on cinema and pop culture.

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