The Legacies Series, an oral history project, features our theatre elders — actors, writers, directors, composers, designers and producers — working people who have kept alive a dedication to the precarious profession that is theatre. This program honors their work by the passing on of their working histories to those of us coming up after them.
1996 : The Cooper Union
Salem Ludwig served with distinction in the US armed forces during WWII, only to find himself, just a few years later, classified a ‘blacklisted’ artist.
So began Salem Ludwig’s 60-year career in the theatre. In December 1940, after a brief, rising career as a dancer and actor, Salem joined the armed services and was assigned to Special Services to conduct ‘morale work’ (entertainment for the soldiers). He was stationed in Australia (where he met Elia Kazan who would become an enormous influence on his work), New Guinea, the Philippines and Japan (post Hiroshima/ Nagasaki bombings). Promoted to Captain, Salem served his country for five years with distinction, only to find himself, just a few years later, classified a ‘blacklisted’ artist. The theatre, then the only medium which did not completely capitulate to ‘the list,’ continued to provide Salem with his livelihood. (In fact he appeared in several productions with Lily Turner’s company, New Stages, after the war). From 1946 Salem became a fixture of the entertainment industry as an actor, director, playscript editor and a teacher. He originated roles and/or performed in the works of Irwin Shaw, Fydor Dostoyevsky, Arthur Miller, Eugene Ionesco, Tennesee Williams and Neil Simon. He shared the stage with such celebrated performers as Jason Robards, Paul Muni and Melvyn Douglas and worked with such distinguished directors as Sidney Lumet, Peter Sellars and Elia Kazan. As a teacher, he was an active member of the Actors Studio and was on the faculty of HB Studio. Salem Ludwig passed away in April 2007.
Mr. Ludwig was blacklisted in 1957. Working in television and film came to a halt but he continued to work in theatre.