Manny Fried : Life Reflections


Manny Fried : Life Reflections


Interview One
Manny Fried turns 80 and reflects on his life and the struggles he endured after being blacklisted from 1956 to 1972 for his political beliefs. He says that growing up as one of nine children, “We were taught to be honest and stick up for your rights.” In his books and plays he writes about relationships inside the labor movement. “I tried hard to be a voice for the American worker,” he tells Rich Newberg.

He talks about refusing to answer any questions by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and about receiving support from Albert Einstein. Fried says the committee did not have a constitutional right to exist. He says he has no regrets, even though his life has been tough. He says, “I’ve tried to embody my experience in plays I write and the novels I write.”

The interview is conducted at the Alleyway Theater before scenes are rehearsed for his play “Big Ben Hood.” Fried says the underlying theme is, “The need to be true to yourself, the need to have integrity, and the need to make a choice and not try to stand on the fence.”

When the interview ends, the actors on stage celebrate Manny Fried's birthday, surprising him with a song and a cake. He joins them on stage and blows out the candles with one breath. The actors, including Jim Santella, pay tribute to Fried, pointing out his honesty and integrity.
March 1, 1993
Interview Runs: 12:36
21:18 including b-roll

Interview Two
In 1994 Manny Fried is interviewed by Rich Newberg at home, where he discusses his lawsuit against the FBI and the price he paid for being labeled “the most dangerous man in Western New York.”

At age 81, he discusses the lawsuit he filed against the FBI based on testimony he learned two years earlier from a former FBI worker. He says the woman told him that the FBI set up 25 agents to follow him around the clock, bug his conversations, read his mail and work toward getting him indicted.

Fried says the most important goal of his lawsuit is to “have them admit what they did... and to make amends and so it’s not easy for them to do it again.” He says former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, through his agents, damaged his marriage and convinced neighbors not to allow their children to play with his children. Fried says the agents assigned to his case also convinced friends of his wife Rhoda, who came from an upper class Buffalo family, to stop socializing with her. He says they went to her friends’ employers or clients and pressured them to stay away from the Fried family.

Rhoda’s family owned the upscale Park Lane Restaurant and apartment building on Gates Circle in Buffalo. She had been a part owner but was barred from entering the restaurant according to Fried, after a priest called for a boycott of the establishment.
Fried blames the actions of government agents for breaking his wife’s spirit and believes they were probably responsible for her death. He says she had become an alcoholic and a heavy smoker and eventually had a stroke.

He says he has no regrets having been a member of the Communist Party in Western New York, whose goals locally he says were to “better the standard of living, the wages and the working conditions of the people here.” But he adds, “The only sense of guilt I have about this whole thing is what my wife and kids went through and the part I played in sticking up for these ideals.” He says, “They went through hell on account of it and that bothers me yet!”

The number one hope expresses at age 81 is that “working people are able to get decent jobs and don’t have to worry where their bread’s coming from.” He adds, “I want people to have enough to eat. I want them to have decent homes. I want them to get along. That’s what I want.”

[June 9, 1994]
[Interview Runs: 31:01]
[32:58 including b-roll]



Date Created



Rich Newberg Reports Collection


Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (publisher of digital)
WIVB (Television Station : Buffalo, N.Y.)


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