News

Radulovich, inspiration for `Good Night and Good Luck,' dies

Blair Anthony Robertson
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Milo Radulovich, who in 1953 stood up to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist browbeating in a showdown that led to the demise of McCarthyism, died Monday at age 81. He had struggled with his health since suffering a stroke in June.

Though his case was a sensation 50 years ago, trumpeted on Edward R. Murrow's TV show "See It Now" and the inspiration for the 2005 movie "Good Night, and Good Luck," Radulovich for decades enjoyed an energetic but low-key career as a Sacramento-area meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He often was quoted in The (Sacramento) Bee on anything from floods and cold fronts to the intricacies of El Nino. He also was Ronald Reagan's favorite weather forecaster when Reagan was governor.

Until the last two years of his life, Radulovich rarely mentioned the scandal that rocked the nation at the height of the so-called Red Scare, though he was always gracious about answering questions when anyone broached the subject.

The movie turned him into a celebrity, a rejuvenated hero and a widely sought out speaker as critics of the Patriot Act drew contemporary parallels to the Radulovich ordeal.

"I am uneasy about self-praise, but I am proud I responded as a patriot to an unjust attack," he said in a 2003 profile in The Bee. "If anyone was un-American, it was Joseph McCarthy. He did what the Communist would have loved to do – he demoralized an entire nation."

In the early 1950s, buoyed by the Cold War and the near-hysterical fear of Communism, McCarthy derailed careers and ruined lives in his quest to root out Americans whose loyalties he questioned.

But he picked on the wrong man in 1953. Radulovich was a 27-year-old student at the University of Michigan and the father of two. He had served in the Air Force a decade earlier but was on reserve status while studying meteorology and holding down three jobs.

Out of the blue, he received a special delivery letter indicating he would be discharged from the Air Force because his sister and father had the loosest of ties to Communist publications.

Radulovich decided to fight, the first to take on the powerful McCarthy. The press noticed almost immediately. Not long after Murrow featured Radulovich on his current affairs broadcast, the national tide turned against McCarthy as millions decided he had gone too far. It was a David vs. Goliath political face-off.

"Milo by himself couldn't have done much, but the media picked up on it," said his brother, Sam Radulovich of Detroit.

"What happened to Milo points out what can happen when you let some of these federal regulations get out of hand," said Kenneth Sanborn, one of the lawyers who defended Radulovich and is now a retired circuit court judge in Michigan. "Now we're running into the same little problem with the Patriot Act."

Radulovich won his case and cleared his father's name, but he always insisted his father died broken-hearted, abandoned by most of his friends after he was identified as a likely Communist.

Radulovich moved on and was never bitter. Outgoing and cheerful, he retired in 1994 and lived in Lodi, Calif., where he enjoyed spending time with friends and was on a first-name basis with all the waitresses at his favorite diner.

In fact, Radulovich was better known as the local weather service spokesman and, in retirement, a bon vivant, than he was as the young man who stood up to McCarthy. That changed with "Good Night, and Good Luck." Radulovich seemed to enjoy basking in the limelight and recounting his case.

"In the last couple of years, he was almost fulltime going to schools and journalism groups that asked him to speak," said his brother Sam Radulovich, a retired electrical engineer in Detroit. "He got a lot of travel out of it, which he liked to a point, but I think he got tired of it."

When Sanborn received a prestigious medal for courage and achievement, Radulovich surprised him by traveling to the Detroit area to present his former lawyer with the honor.

"It was quite an emotional moment for me," Sanborn said.

In his years as at the National Weather Service, Radulovich was widely admired for his friendly demeanor. Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan would often call for a weather report and always asked to speak with Radulovich, according to Larry Ferral, a longtime co-worker.

"He was very articulate, a person who could really express himself well. He was the one who always spoke at retirement dinners -- a really good extemporaneous speaker," said Ferral.

In his final months, that gift was taken away. After suffering a powerful stroke in mid-June, Radulovich was unable to talk and affected the use of his right arm and leg. The illness forced him to move into nursing home.

He regained some ability to talk but after a few words would tail off. Loved ones believed the incoherent speech was the Serbian language he heard as an infant from his parent, who moved to the United States from Yugoslavia, his brother said.

Until his health woes, Radulovich had lived alone in Lodi since his second wife died in the early 1990s.

He is survived by three daughters, Danica Berner of Bishop; and Janet Sweeney and Kathy Radulovich, both of Sacramento; two brothers, Walter and Sam Radulovich, both of Detroit, and his sister Margaret Fishman, of Detroit. Funeral arrangements are pending.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image