October 21, 1997 12:00 AM

Ring Lardner Jr., the last surviving member of the Hollywood Ten, died of cancer in New York Tuesday night at 85, reports Reuters. Lardner was the last surviving member of the Hollywood Ten, a group that was blacklisted during Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s mid-century hunt for communists in government and the movie industry. House Un-American Activities Committee Chairman J. Parnell Thomas once asked Lardner, “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” “I could answer the question exactly the way you want,” said Lardner, who was indeed a communist. “But if I did, I would hate myself in the morning.” Lardner, whose father was a famous humorist and baseball writer, won an Oscar with Michael Kanin for best original screenplay in 1942 for “Woman of the Year,” starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. In 1970, he won an Oscar for best screenplay based on another medium for the movie “M*A*S*H,” which was based on a Richard Hooker novel. He is survived by his wife, Frances Chaney, five children, seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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