How the man who created the Hollywood Reporter used it to wield absolute power

Billy Wilkerson was a would-be filmmaker in the 1920s, but studio bosses stymied his efforts. To retaliate, Wilkerson created the Hollywood Reporter, which launched in September 1930. The paper turned him into a power broker in town, able to make and break careers with his daily opinion pieces. He was a gambling addict who lost huge sums of money over his lifetime. He was connected with the mob. And Wilkerson is credited with launching the Red Scare in Hollywood. He came up with the infamous question: “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?” His campaign was taken up by Joseph McCarthy in Washington. Lives and careers were ruined. His son, W.R. Wilkerson, was born to Billy’s sixth (and last) wife, and he’s written a new book about his father.

W.R. Wilkerson and his father Billy. 

Author W.R. Wilkerson.

Photos courtesy of W.R. Wilkerson.



  • W.R. Wilkerson - author, “Hollywood Godfather: The Life and Crimes of Billy Wilkerson”