James Cromwell Vs. Starbucks

"I’m a union man."

Image by Ed Rampell.

It was sticky business for Starbucks on May 11 when PETA protesters, including Academy Award-nominated actor James Cromwell, co-star of HBO’s Succession, staged a “stick-in” on the counter of a midtown Manhattan café. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ demonstration, aimed at raising awareness about the coffeehouse chain’s practices that purportedly perpetuate animal cruelty and global warming, succeeded in garnering global publicity, in large part due to the bold participation of Cromwell, who played a billionaire in 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

James was born into Hollywood royalty in 1940, when his father, director John Cromwell, was helming Tinseltown classics such as 1934’s Of Human Bondage with Bette Davis, 1938’s Algiers with Hedy Lamarr, 1946’s Anna and the King of Siam with Rex Harrison, et al, until the Hollywood Blacklist derailed his career. Although TV/Movie stars are often accused of being “stuck-up,” James has been using his star power to “stick it” to the powers-that-be and shine a light on social justice and environmental causes, although he became politically engaged long before he was Oscar-nommed for playing Farmer Arthur H. Hoggett in the 1995 talking pig comedy Babe. By the early 1960s, James had taken part in the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi and was friends with the martyred Mickey Schwerner, one of the three Congress of Racial Equality organizers murdered by the KKK in 1964.

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Ed Rampell was named after legendary CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow because of his TV exposes of Senator Joe McCarthy. Rampell majored in Cinema at Manhattan’s Hunter College and is an L.A.-based film historian/critic who co-organized the 2017 70th anniversary Blacklist remembrance at the Writers Guild theater in Beverly Hills and was a moderator at 2019’s “Blacklist Exiles in Mexico” filmfest and conference at the San Francisco Art Institute. Rampell co-presented “The Hollywood Ten at 75” film series at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures and is the author of Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States and co-author of The Hawaii Movie and Television Book.    

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