Hometown to Honor Dalton Trumbo After Rejecting Him for Half a Century

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The reputation of a man whose name still could bring conversations to an icy halt in this city 50 years after he wrote a book about Grand Junction's leading residents may finally be rehabilitated here.

Author Dalton Trumbo, a renowned novelist who won two Academy Awards for his screenwriting, will be honored by a festival celebrating his career and the reprinting of the book that created such a ruckus in this Western Slope city.

Trumbo was born 100 years ago Dec. 9, an occasion to be marked by a party at the Avalon Theater in downtown Grand Junction.

But in his hometown, where his writing career got started on the high school newspaper and continued at the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Trumbo was reviled for decades after the publication of his first novel, Eclipse.

Set in the fictional "Shale City," the book and its author were shunned after its printing in 1935. Children of leading residents whose names had been lightly disguised and who were disparaged in the book tell tales of their parents or grandparents ripping up copies of the novel.

Trumbo, who left Grand Junction in the late 1920s for Hollywood and never returned, would go on to write 72 screenplays and seven books, one of which, the anti-war novel Johnny Got His Gun, was widely read on college campuses during the Vietnam War. Trumbo died in 1975.

The University of Colorado honored Trumbo, who attended the school for one year, by naming the fountain area on the Boulder campus after him.

He won Oscars for Roman Holiday in 1953 and The Brave One in 1957. He wrote those screenplays under pseudonyms because the House Committee on Un-American Activities had blacklisted him for joining the Communist Party.

"He went to one meeting and never went back," said Grand Junction historian Dave Fishell. "But the blacklist lasted and lasted, and Trumbo went to jail for 11 months rather than squeal on his friends."

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