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1960s SAG Strike, explained

This is not the first time SAG-AFRA has went out on strike. Here’s a little info on what happened in 1960.


For the first time in six decades, Hollywood is amid two simultaneous strikes from the unions representing actors and screenwriters. This past week, the SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) joined the WGA (Writers Guild of America) in their ongoing strike, which has been on since May 2.

Both unions are demanding the creation of an established system of residual payments from streaming platforms and protections against the use of content generated by artificial intelligence. Once again, the issues of residuals mirror the driving force of the strike back in 1960.

Here’s what happened the last time the SAG went on strike.

On March 7, 1960, in a fight over residuals from films sold to TV networks, the SAG began its strike just months after the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike themselves with demands for better compensation. During that historic double strike, future U.S. President Ronald Reagan held the position of SAG president and led negotiations with the Hollywood studios.

SAG’s strike halted production on eight feature films, including Elizabeth Taylor’s Butterfield 8 and Marilyn Monroe’s Let’s Make Love. The stars behind these films and more iconic Hollywood actors such as Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire participated in the work stoppage.

The SAG’s strike ended over a month later on April 18, 1960, when the guild agreed to forego residual payments on films made before 1960 in exchange for receiving residuals on all films made from 1960 onward, as well as a one-time payment of $2.25 million from producers to form a SAG pension and health plan.