36 I CHRONICLESnblacklisted. Unable to find work, thengreat playwright is reduced to becomingna salesgirl at Macy’s.nHellman the heroine, Hellman thenmartyr. Pentimento and ScoundrelnTime received wonderfiil reviews (theynare certainly well-written), and theynwere admirably suited for the mood ofnpost-Vietnam, post-Watergate America.nBoth books became massive bestsellersn(especially Scoundrel Time).nThey reestablished Hellman as anmajor figure in American letters, afternabout a decade of quiescence. Theynwon her honorary doctorates fromnSmith, Columbia, and Yale. Theynwon her a very sympathetic interviewnfrom Dan Rather on 60 Minutes (nonprobing “investigatory journalism”nhere!). They won her a triumphantnappearance at the Academy Awards ofn1977, where Jane Fonda introducednher to a standing ovation, stressing tonthe nadonal audience Hellman’s historynof opposition to political oppression.nMost of all, the chapter onn”Julia” in Pentimento was made into anhit movie. It starred Jane Fonda asnHellman (exquisitely appropriate), andnVanessa Redgrave as “Julia” (exquisitelyninappropriate). Redgrave won annAcademy Award (1978)—this was thenspeech where she denounced “Zionistnthugs.” But the crucial thing is that thenmovie’s depiction of Hellman’s braverynand self-sacrifice was imprinted onnthe popular imagination. Movies arenvery powerful stuff. Fonda-Hellman’snheroism is what the American peoplenwill remember about the real Lillian,nno matter how many articles andnbooks are subsequently published.nHellman took it all in stride, of course.nThis was the period that saw nationalnmagazines running full-page ads ofnHellman wrapped in a Blackglammanmink coat (she always loved mink),nwith no identifying caption except thenslogan “What becomes a legendnmost?”nBut doubts about Hellman’s legendnhave grown stronger and strongern— among those who actually carenabout such things. For those who doncare, Wright’s biography is worthwhilengood reading, and disturbing indeed.nThe real debate over Hellman’s veracitynwas kicked off by another medianevent: on The Dick Cavett Show inn1980, Mary McCarthy claimed thatn”every word Lillian Hellman writes isna lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.'” DespitenHellman’s alleged previous standsnin favor of the First Amendment, shensued McCarthy, hoping to ruin hernfinancially with lawyers’ fees (unlikenHellman, McCarthy wasn’t rich) beforenthe case even came to court.nHellman came very near to succeedingnin this. But the lawsuit forced McCarthynand others to examine Pentimentonand Scoundrel Time carefully for thenfirst time. That was a disaster for Hellman.nNeither book could take seriousnscholarly inspection: There was toonmuch that was implausible, impossible,nself-contradictory.nThe death blow was struck, however,nby the publication in 1983 of MurielnCardiner’s memoirs of the prewarnanti-Nazi underground. For onenthing, it was obvious that Gardinernwas “Julia”: an American student ofnpsychiatry in Vienna who later becamena leader of the resistance. Therenwas no one else like her in the movement;nno other candidate was possible.nAnd Cardiner said that she had nevernbeen helped by Hellman, had neverneven met Hellman—nor had anyonenelse in the resistance network. But, asnit turned out, Hellman could havenheard of Gardiner: When Gardinernescaped to the U.S. in 1939, hernlandlord was a friend of Hellman’s. Innfact, it’s very likely that Gardiner hadnalready made one appearance in Hellman’snwork before Pentimento; her historynis strikingly like that of the heroinenin Hellman’s 1941 play, Watch on thenRhine. Just as damning was Gardiner’snother revelation that the rationale fornHellman’s secret mission to Berlin wasnabsurd, because into 1939 it had beennperfectly legal for foreigners to shiftnmoney from outside the Reich intonbanks in Germany. That was hownGardiner herself had financed the activitiesnof her group, through hernChase Bank branch: a perfectly mundanenoperation. Cardiner was not verynfriendly towards Hellman. Hellman,nafter all, had commandeered her lifenin order to enhance her own reputationnfor bravery.nThus the only thing that seems truenabout “Julia” is that Hellman did indeednpass briefly through Berlin inn1937. She passed through on her waynto Moscow, then in the throes of thenGreat Purge (which she endorsed), innorder to express her support for Stalinnnnand the People’s Revolution.nApparently there is just as little truthnto Hellman’s dramatic depiction of herndefiant appearance before HUAC inn1952 and the devastating impact it hadnon her life. Here the facts can be verynaccurately checked. In 1952, she neverndenounced the Committee to its facen(though others did). Her famous declarationnof conscience was a small part ofna polite letter sent to the Committeenbeforehand; it was never spoken outnloud by Hellman to them. At thenhearings Hellman, the beneficiary ofnexcellent legal advice, simply took thenFifth Amendment over and over, butnalso very politely. This strategemnplaced her in absolute legal safety—nwhich is why so many witnesses beforenher had done precisely the same thing.nSo it’s hardly surprising that no onen(except for Hellman) remembersnany spectator blurting out “ThanknGod somebody’s finally had the guts tondo it!”nNor is it the case that she sufferedndreadfully as a result of failing toncooperate with HUAC. She had beennblacklisted (more or less) in Hollywoodnsince 1948; she was never blacklistednon Broadway. On the contrary: Withinna few months of her HUAC appearancenshe was directing a revival of hernearly play The Children’s Hour, withnan all-star cast and to rave reviews; itnwas a substantial hit. Indeed, the immediatenpost-HUAC years saw Hellmannproductions on Broadway at hernusual rate: The Children’s Hour (1952-n53), The Lark (1955-56), Candiden(1956-57), Toys in the Attic (earlyn1960). It was not in the McCarthyiten50’s that Hellman disappeared fromnthe New York theater. It was in thenliberal 1960’s—when she simply rannout of theatrical ideas.nIt is true that after her HUAC appearancenthe IRS began to press Hellmannfor back taxes. This smacks of anpolitical act; if so, it was abominablenbehavior on the part of the government.nBut her problems with the IRSnwere never bad enough to seriouslynimpede Hellman’s ritzy life-style.nThroughout this period she not onlynmaintained her beautiful New Yorkntownhouse and her famous dinner parties,nbut from 1954 she also took ansummerhouse every year on Martha’snVineyard, where she hobnobbed withnthe literati on vacahon. (In 1956 shen