Lucille Ball, the national icon most associated with wholesome 1950s America, got caught up in radical politics. And this almost changed the nature of American entertainment forever.
The HUAC called Lucille in for a secret interview in April 1952 and again in September 1953. And then, radio personality Walter Winchell broke the story of the accusations. The news traveled. (The NY Daily News headline, for example, was "Registered Red in '36: Lucille.").
She claimed, to HUAC and to the press, that she'd merely called herself a communist to appease her political grandfather.
Perhaps she had no choice but to say that; she was turning not only into the most popular star in America—the biggest television show in the biggest capitalist society in the world.