The Case of Dorothy K. Funn
RICHARD ENGLISH, narrator-moderator
DOROTHY, the fictional Dorothy K. Funn
ERIC, Communist student
MADGE, Eric's Communist mother
FATHER, Eric's Communist father
MR. AHRAM, Communist teacher
FUNN, the real Dorothy K. Funn
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC THEME FOR INTRODUCTION, THEN WARMLY PATRIOTIC IN BG
ANNOUNCER: The National Broadcasting Company presents _Last Man Out_, a series
of true stories, transcribed and documented from the official files of United
States government agencies.
MUSIC: MILDLY APOCALYPTIC THEME FOR BRIDGE, THEN OUT
FATHER: All right, Eric. Let me hear you recite the verse you memorized.
ERIC: Shall I stand up, Papa?
FATHER: Yes, Eric, er, stand up.
SOUND: ERIC RISES NOISILY FROM CHAIR
FATHER: Go ahead.
ERIC: (CLEARS HIS THROAT) "To free the masses from oppression / To free the
spirit from its chains / The red flag waves, the red star shines /
Capitalism's down, the worker reigns ..." (BREAKS OFF) What are capitalists,
FATHER: (CRISPLY) Capitalists, Eric, are what _we_ are _not_.
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC THEME FOR BRIDGE, THEN MERELY OMINOUS IN BG, OUT AT [X]
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, here is your narrator for _Last Man Out_, the
well-known writer Mr. Richard English.
ENGLISH: Thank you. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you are going to hear one
of the most important programs in this entire _Last Man Out_ series. There's
been a lot of criticism lately directed at government committees which have
attempted to expose the Communist infiltration of our American schools.
Tonight, we're going to prove that that Communist infiltration _did_ happen
here. Our subject tonight is Dorothy K. Funn, a New York City school teacher.
Miss Funn joined the Communist Party in 1939, left it in 1946. [X] Her story's
not what you'd call a cloak-and-dagger tale. It happens to be far more
important and far deadlier than that. Dorothy Funn actually saw the poison
that was being injected into our school systems -- the attempt to mold the
minds of our children into the Communist pattern. Now, the subject report of
former Communist Party member, Dorothy K. Funn.
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC THEME FOR BRIDGE, THEN MERELY OMINOUS IN BG, OUT AT [X]
DOROTHY: I joined the Communist Party in May of 1939. I was recruited by
another teacher with whom I'd become friendly.
ENGLISH: About a month and a half after the subject was taken into the Party,
she was sent to a state communist training school for teachers on a farm in
upstate New York. It was a six weeks' course. [X] Among other things, the
subject was taught how to indoctrinate the schoolchildren in the ways and
thinking of Communist Party principles. She was taught how to slant everyday
problems in such a manner that they always favored the thinking of the Soviet
DOROTHY: While we were at this school, we weren't allowed to receive mail, or
to send it. And we were to remain on the grounds of the school at all times.
One night during our six weeks' training period, we _were_ allowed to go into
town to a movie. But we all went as a group and loaded on a truck. (AMUSED)
I'll never forget the ride back to the school; it was a bumpy one.
SOUND: TRUCK ENGINE ... LAUGHTER AND CONVERSATION ... IN BG
DOROTHY: Well, Madge, two more weeks and we'll be back in the big city.
MADGE: I'm really anxious, Dorothy. I haven't seen my little boy for over a
month. He probably won't even recognize me.
DOROTHY: Well, how old is he, Madge?
MADGE: Six and a half, going on seven.
MADGE: Smart one, too. You'd be surprised how progressive he is. And I _mean_
DOROTHY: That's good. Your husband in the Party?
MADGE: Oh, sure. Very active, too. That's why I know our little boy is going
to grow up to be a big man in the Party someday.
MADGE: You know, it's the _early_ training that counts. And we're giving him
plenty of that. He knows half the nursery rhymes in the Young Pioneer by
heart. And he's only six and a half, going on seven.
MADGE: His favorite is the one that goes: "Eeny, meeny, miney, mo / Workers
robbed where'er they go / They can stop it if they're not too slow / We young
comrades tell them so."
DOROTHY: (APPRECIATIVE) Oh, I remember that one! It was one of the very first
ones _I_ ever memorized! Well, your young son sounds like he'll make a
brilliant student. What's his name?
DOROTHY: Eric. Hm. That's a good name.
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC BRIDGE ... THEN OUT
ENGLISH: Subject got back to New York just in time to start teaching the fall
semester at one of the public schools. This was in 1939. There were
approximately forty thousand teachers in New York City at that time. How many
DOROTHY: Oh, about a thousand.
ENGLISH: What were some of the ways in which a Communist teacher was able to
influence her students along party line thinking and principles?
DOROTHY: Well, there were various ways. Where possible, a teacher slanted
history lessons. Slanted everyday problems, too.
SOUND: CLASSROOM NOISE
DOROTHY: All right, students! Students? We'll do our oral reports now!
SOUND: CLASSROOM NOISE SUBSIDES
DOROTHY: We'll do our oral reports now on world events. First one, Jack
Glazer. Please stand and make your report, Jack.
SOUND: CHAIR SCRAPES, JACK RISES
DOROTHY: Now, give us the title, and then a one minute summary.
JACK: Well, my report is called "Germany Marches on Poland." By yesterday, the
German army marched into Poland and started a war with the people of Poland.
DOROTHY: (INTERRUPTS, SLYLY) Uh, Jack? Do you know why?
JACK: 'Cause they want more land?
DOROTHY: (SORROWFUL) Oh, no. No, that's not the _real_ reason. The real reason
is the Soviet Union. They want to invade the _peaceful_ Soviet Union.
DOROTHY: Yes, it's very easy to see _why_ they want to invade the Soviet
Union. Russia is a - _real_ democracy. In a sense, more of a democracy than we
ENGLISH: See how simple it is? First, you start twisting our kids' thoughts.
DOROTHY: Now, let's just look at history. Mr. Lincoln fought a civil war to
free the Negroes. And there's still Jim Crowism in this country. In Russia,
it's different. In Russia, the Negro is his own master. Well, that's what I
meant when I said, in a sense, Russia's more of a democratic nation than
JACK: Oh, then we're all really for Russia in this war? 'Cause Russia's
defending democracy. Is that right, Mrs. Funn?
DOROTHY: (SLYLY) Mmmmm ... yes. Yes, you might put it that way. But there's
more to it than that.
JACK: What do you mean, Mrs. Funn?
ENGLISH: Now the Communist Party line really comes out.
DOROTHY: Well, Germany is a totalitarian state -- a dictatorship, a type of
tyranny. A nation of persecution and hate and prejudice. While, on the other
hand, Russia's exactly the opposite. Now, we definitely find some persecution,
some hate, and some prejudice in this country. How do we eliminate it? First,
by destroying the big enemy; that would be Germany. And then the time will
come for us to clean out our own backyard. Do you see what I mean?
JACK: I sure do, Mrs. Funn.
DOROTHY: Fine! And, Jack, for giving us that splendid oral report, I'm going
to give you an "A."
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC THEME FOR BRIDGE, THEN MERELY OMINOUS IN BG, OUT AT [X]
ENGLISH: How were the party line policies that you were to push forward in
your classes in the schoolrooms handed down to you, Dorothy?
DOROTHY: Well, we attended section meetings every two weeks, at which time we
were given specific orders about what party line policies were to be pushed in
ENGLISH: Slanting history as it happened was one method of pushing Communist
influence. Were there other methods?
DOROTHY: Oh, yes! Yes, America's past history was also slanted. And then
another method was the slanting of ordinary discussion groups. [X] Sometimes
we'd have the students discuss questions, pro and con, and we, the teachers,
would act as moderators.
SOUND: CLASSROOM NOISE
DOROTHY: All right, students! All right! All right, students, let me have your
SOUND: CLASSROOM NOISE SUBSIDES
DOROTHY: Today, our panel discussion will be on the Civil War. Virginia, you
may begin the discussion. It might be a good idea to state first the reasons
why the Civil War began.
VIRGINIA: It began over slavery in the South. President Abraham Lincoln wanted
to free the slave in the South and--
DOROTHY: (INTERRUPTS) I - I think it might be a good idea for me to inject a
thought at this point. (SLYLY) Did any of you students know that the South
does not recognize President Abraham Lincoln's birthday as a holiday?
BOB: Why's that, Mrs. Funn?
DOROTHY: Well, Bob, even though a war was fought to free the slaves, there's
still a great deal of slavery going on in the South. For example, the textile
workers in the factories.
BOB: I don't know about them but my folks said that a lot of the Negroes
remain in the South because they were treated very well by their employers.
They even said that some of the Negro women practically raise the children of
the white folks. That's how much they were respected and loved.
DOROTHY: (SORROWFUL) Well, your folks are very wrong, Bob. That's what they
call ... propaganda.
SOUND: DOOR OPENS
DOROTHY: Oh, just a moment, boys and girls.
SOUND: DOOR CLOSES, FOOTSTEPS IN
ERIC: Are you Mrs. Funn?
ERIC: My name is Eric Norton, Mrs. Funn. I'm a new boy. We just moved to this
district and I transferred over from P.S. Forty-five.
DOROTHY: All right, Eric. Have you been to the principal's office?
DOROTHY: Uh, students, I'd like to have you meet a new member of your class,
STUDENTS: Hi! Hello!
DOROTHY: All right, Eric, you may sit down.
SOUND: ERIC'S FOOTSTEPS
DOROTHY: (REALIZES) Oh! Eric?
DOROTHY: Is your mother a schoolteacher?
ERIC: Yes'm. She teaches over in the Queens district.
DOROTHY: Is her first name Madge?
ERIC: That's right, Mrs. Funn. Madge.
DOROTHY: (UNDERSTATED) I'm glad to have you with us, Eric. I think you're
going to like this class - very much, Eric. Very much.
MUSIC: OMINOUS PIANO BRIDGE, THEN IN BG, OUT AT [X]
ENGLISH: The subject continued teaching and continued attending the party
discussion group meetings every two weeks. How were these groups organized?
DOROTHY: Well, everyone in the group was a teacher from some public school. We
had a chairman, a treasurer, and an educational director.
ENGLISH: Let me ask you this. Were schoolchildren ever used in Communist
DOROTHY: Oh, yes. [X] Yes, but usually they were children whose parents were
already sympathizers or party members. The May Day parade was one of the best
places to employ children for - for the "family effects" on those watching the
parade. I marched in my first May Day parade in 1940.
SOUND: PARADE AND CROWD NOISE, CONTINUES IN BG THROUGHOUT SCENE
AHRAM: Mrs. Funn?
DOROTHY: Well, yes, Mr. Ahram?
AHRAM: Are all the children here?
DOROTHY: Well, no, there's one missing. Eric Norton. He should be here any
AHRAM: We won't be able to wait much longer. The parade's about to start.
DOROTHY: Well, he promised me he'd be here. He's very enthusiastic about the
whole thing, Mr. Ahram. Well, you know Eric, don't you?
AHRAM: Yes, I know him. (TO THE CROWD) All right, students! Don't move out of
line! And hold those banners up straight when you march! Make sure they can be
read! And now, remember where you're to march -- next to the older people!
Form a single line on either side and march next to them!
CHILDREN: Yes, sir! Okay, Mr. Ahram!
AHRAM: Mrs. Funn, we can't wait much longer for that Norton boy.
STUDENTS: There's the whistle!
AHRAM: Well, there it goes. (TO THE CROWD) All right, students! March out in
the street and take your places! Single file!
SOUND: ERIC'S FOOTSTEPS RUNNING
ERIC: (APPROACHING) Mrs. Funn! Mrs. Funn!
DOROTHY: Oh, there you are, Eric! I was so afraid you were going to miss--
Why, hello, Madge!
MADGE: Hello, Dorothy! Nice to see you again.
DOROTHY: It's been a long time. We'd better hurry; the parade's just about
ready to start. We'll talk later, Madge. Do you have your placard, Eric?
ERIC: Uh huh, right here.
DOROTHY: All right! Hold it high! And remember we want everybody to be able to
see it and to read it!
MUSIC: SNARE DRUMS FOR MARCHING ... WITH OMINOUS TYMPANI
AHRAM: (IN CADENCE) Hup, two, three, four! Hup, two, three, four! March in
unison! That's it! Keep in step! Hup, hup! March, toil, reap, mine! Others
wear garments fine! March, toil, reap, mine! Others wear garments fine!
STUDENTS: (OVERLAPS, JOINING IN) March, toil, reap, mine! Others wear garments
MUSIC: BUILDS TO AN OMINOUS CLIMAX, TOPPING THE CROWD, THEN OUT
DOROTHY: Although we harped on discrimination and prejudice as one thing that
Communism would do away with-- (SIGHS) Yet we - we practiced certain
discriminations right there in the public schools. We discriminated against
students and - also teachers who were not favorable to the movement.
AHRAM: Mrs. Funn, have you met Mrs. Goodman, the new history teacher?
DOROTHY: Mmm, I met her at lunch in the cafeteria yesterday; seems like a nice
AHRAM: She's not.
DOROTHY: What do you mean?
AHRAM: She hasn't got one progressive idea in her stupid head. She's what I
call a total loss.
DOROTHY: Oh, I see.
AHRAM: She might be dangerous. We'll have to keep a close watch on her. She's
the kind that runs and talks.
AHRAM: I didn't say much to her. I - I just listened.
DOROTHY: What about her family?
AHRAM: Ohhh, conservative stock. I think I'll give a little party and - ask
everyone but her.
DOROTHY: Mm hm, mm hm, I see.
AHRAM: I'll, uh, also think of some other ways to, uh, isolate her. We've
definitely got to make her feel she's not wanted around here. Maybe she'll ask
for a transfer.
DOROTHY: Well, that's probably the best way to handle it.
AHRAM: You see, we've got this school pretty well organized right now. I hate
to have anyone come along and mess up all the good we've done. We've got to
get rid of her as soon as possible. I know a liberal sub I'd like to see take
her place. I'll see what kind of strings I can pull to, uh, get her in over
AHRAM: But, in the meantime, Mrs. Funn, pass the word along to the others. Our
objective? Get rid of Mrs. Goodman.
MUSIC: SLEDGEHAMMER ACCENT ... THEN NEUTRAL, IN BG, OUT AT [X]
ENGLISH: It wasn't long before Mrs. Goodman was out. The subject continued
teaching until 1943 when she resigned from the school system, went to work as
an administrative secretary for a minorities-labor victory committee; then as
a legislative representative for the National Minorities Congress; and, later
still, as a representative for the New York State Political Action Committee
in Washington, D. C. In 1946, the subject, who had slowly been growing fed up,
left the Communist Party.
DOROTHY: I left Washington and returned to New York and applied for another
teaching position with the New York City school systems. [X]
ENGLISH: The subject was reinstated, resumed her teaching job the early part
of 1947. When the House Committee on Un-American Activities began its
investigation of Communist infiltration into the school systems, the subject
testified before them, naming names and giving any and all information she had
of the Communist Party and its working in our schools.
SOUND: HUAC HEARING CROWD ... GAVEL BANGS ... CROWD SUBSIDES DURING FOLLOWING
CHAIRMAN: The committee will come to order! Proceed, Mr. Counsel.
COUNSEL: Uh, Mrs. Funn, you have been a member, or had been a member, for
quite some time, of the Communist Party here in the city of New York. There
was quite an audience in this room this morning and there is quite an audience
here this afternoon. Is it correct, you recognize quite a number of the people
in the audience as former members of the Communist Party when you were?
CROWD: SOME BOO AND HOLLER
COUNSEL: They are here today in this audience?
CROWD: SOME BOO AND HOLLER AGAIN
COUNSEL: I'm not sure whether you have ever read that provision, have you,
under which this committee operates?
DOROTHY: No, I have not.
COUNSEL: This law says-- Er, may I read?
COUNSEL: The Committee on Un-American Activities, as a whole or by
subcommittee, is authorized to make investigations of the extent, the
character, the objectives of un-American propaganda activities in the United
States. And the diffusion within the United States of subversive and un-
American propaganda that is instigated from foreign countries or of a domestic
origin and attacks the principle of government as guaranteed by our
CROWD: SOME SKEPTICAL CHUCKLING AND RUMBLING
COUNSEL: Now, did you hear any question or observe any act by this committee
which, in your judgment, was a trespass upon your civil rights in any way, or
your rights as an American citizen?
DOROTHY: Well, no. You've shown only one thing; that you're interested in
getting at the facts.
CROWD: SOME DERISIVE LAUGHTER
DOROTHY: You're interested in helping to eliminate the causes which have made
this subversive activity possible. I don't think in any instant you've
infringed upon my rights as a citizen. I've been very happy to come here and -
and give any assistance I've given.
COUNSEL: Mrs. Funn, speaking for myself, I say you have been a most
informative witness. I am sure the information you have given to this
committee will be most valuable. You have added a great deal to the
information that the committee has already assembled. Now, unless there is
something further, Mr. Chairman--?
CHAIRMAN: Nothing further. The committee will stand in recess until ten
o'clock tomorrow morning.
SOUND: GAVEL BANGS ONCE ... CROWD MURMURS
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC ACCENT ... THEN SYMPATHETIC, IN BG
ENGLISH: Dorothy Funn still has a tremendous feeling for the rights of the
minorities. That was one of the reasons she joined the Communist Party. But
she realized in time that the Communist Party wasn't the answer to what she
wanted. She realized that the Party used the problems of the minority to
spread its own gospel. And when she found that out, she quit the party. She
has resumed her teaching career, however, and it wasn't an easy road back. At
times, it was lonesome. But she made it. And Dorothy Funn is another good
example that an ex-Communist _can_ come back.
MUSIC: NOBLE, TRIUMPHANT ... THEN OUT
ENGLISH: And, now, the moment we've all been waiting for, when we'll ask
tonight's subject some of the questions that all America has wanted to ask.
What is being done now, Dorothy, to rid the school systems of Communists, and
Communist teachers and Communist training? What's being done here in New York,
FUNN: Well, here in New York, uh, a very fine program has been initiated by
Doctor Jansen in weeding out Communist schoolteachers in the New York City
school system. And he has received the help of - of, uh, a council here in New
York who carries on these, uh, investigations.
ENGLISH: Uh, would you say that this investigation has been fairly successful?
FUNN: I would you say that it has been _very_ successful.
ENGLISH: Did you ever have any reaction from parents when it was learned you
had been a Communist schoolteacher?
FUNN: No direct reaction.
ENGLISH: I see.
FUNN: I, uh-- No.
ENGLISH: It wasn't known until four years after you broke the Party that you
had ever been a Communist. Is that correct?
FUNN: I would say yes and no. Uh, it wasn't _openly_ known but I think that
many people by that time had considered me a member of the Communist Party.
ENGLISH: Well, how - how did, uh, was your life affected when you broke with
the Party? Was it like being in a vacuum--?
FUNN: It was very much so. I was, er, sort of "on the moon," alone for a while
since I had, uh - uh, severed all connections with my former friends and many
of my relatives in going into this, uh, uh, Communist Party activity, so that
upon my return-- And, of course, uh, I was no longer welcome with, uh, those
who still were members of the Communist Party with whom I also did not wish to
ENGLISH: I see. All right. Tell me now, what were the Communist Party
instructions regarding teachers' relations with members of the P.T.A.?
FUNN: Their instructions were to, uh-- For each teacher, to make it, er, a
"must" to attend the Parent Teacher Association meetings and to guide, er, uh,
the actions and policies of that organization. Further, wherever possible,
they were to, uh, become particularly friendly and close to those members of
the P.T.A. who looked like "good material," uh, for outside work on, uh, the
political scene, I might say.
FUNN: Looking, of course, toward the last thing, of, uh, recruiting them into
the Communist Party--
ENGLISH: Thank you very much.
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC THEME FOR A FINISH, THEN OUT
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. English will be back in just a moment.
For security reasons, certain names in the subject report of Dorothy Funn were
changed. Each week, _Last Man Out_ will expose a different phase of Communism.
Next week's subject report will be that of a subject who served the Communist
state behind the Iron Curtain. Now, once again, Mr. English.
ENGLISH: Tonight, I want to speak to the ex-Communists who are listening. I
know how tough it is to be on the outside looking in. For seventeen years, I
was deaf. It's only eight years ago I had my hearing restored in one ear. So I
know what it's like to come back. And that's what you want to do. If you've
been afraid that your boss and friends might find out that you're an ex-
Communist and wouldn't understand what took you in and what took you out of
the Party, why don't you write me? Maybe I can help. Just write "Dick English,
care of NBC, Hollywood, California" and mark it personal. Good night.
MUSIC: APOCALYPTIC THEME ... THEN WARMLY PATRIOTIC, IN BG
ANNOUNCER: Next week, Richard English will bring to our microphones the true
story of another former member of the Communist Party, documented and
transcribed from the official files of United States government agencies.
_Last Man Out_ is an NBC Radio Network production by Richard English. Directed
by Andrew C. Love and written by Richard George Pedicini. Our musical score is
composed and conducted by Dimitri Tiomkin, Academy Award Winner.
MUSIC: GRAND, TRIUMPHANT ... OUT
ANNOUNCER: December is the month of the joyous holiday season. It's also the
month of the highest number of motor vehicle accidents. Take a safe driving
tip from the truck drivers who are taught to drive "ahead" of themselves. Take
extra care on the highways during the holiday season. Use courtesy, caution,
and common sense. This is the NBC Radio Network.
SOUND: NBC CHIMES
Originally broadcast: 6 December 1953
1. From Time Magazine, October 19, 1953:
Last Man Out (Sun. 10 p.m.) is the brain child of
Richard English, an ex-prizefighter turned highly
successful magazine writer, who wants to get the
last man out of the Communist PartyŚ"the man
America needs most." As English explained on his
first program: "When a drunk quits, he can go to
Alcoholics Anonymous; when a Commie gets out, he
has no place to go. Maybe this program can do
something about that." By interviews and
dramatizations, the experiences of ex-Communists
are recounted in a quietly believable, non-
melodramatic way. English has signed up a long
list of ex-Reds, including Elizabeth Bentley and
Movie Director Edward Dmytryk (one of the
"Hollywood Ten" who quit the party in 1951). He
has high hopes for the show: "I want the sleeper,
the guy who will quit. He's my man. I'm trying to
show him his mistake and make him get out before
it's too late . . ."
A syndicated newspaper column from April '54 mentions that the series was
canceled after twenty-six weeks because it couldn't attract a sponsor.
2. The episode claims that Funn worked for the "National Minorities Congress"
and "a minorities-labor victory committee." In fact, she testified before the
House Committee on Un-American Activities that she worked for the National
Negro Congress and the Negro Labor Victory Committee. For whatever reason, the
episode obscures the fact that Funn was African-American.
Author Martha Biondi describes Funn's 1953 HUAC testimony in _To Stand and
Fight: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Postwar New York City_ (Harvard
University Press, 2006):
Funn provided a picture of an insincere Communist
Party and a self-portrait of a sincere Communist
motivated by noble goals. After stating that "we
were really a puppet of the Communist party, and
that there was truly no interest in furthering
Negro rights," she testified that Communist
lobbyists in Washington, including herself, worked
strenuously for passage of FEPC, [Fair Employment
Practices Committee] as well as anti-poll tax and
antilynching bills. In a move that southern anti-
communists would try frequently in the coming
decade, a committee member tried to get her to
call those bills Communist inspired, but she threw
the question back on the committee, urging HUAC to
pass an FEPC bill as a true example of its
Americanism. Despite Funn's cooperation with HUAC,
she did not share its hostility to racial equality.