Good Night, and Good Luck

Good Night, and Good Luck Character List

Edward R. Murrow

Edward R. Murrow was the host of a popular news program called See it Now. He gained fame reporting from London during World War II. On See it Now and other programs, Murrow was known for using the power of the press and his own popularity among viewers to expose abuse of power and corruption. Because many of these abuses were being conducted for conservative interests, Murrow was often targeted as using his power to forward a liberal agenda. In Good Night, and Good Luck, Murrow is depicted as serious, competent, articulate, and even-handed. He is thorough and reasonable in his research and journalistic pursuits, but also unwilling to compromise his principles. He is not necessarily the easiest man to get along with, but he does what's right time and time again.

Fred Friendly

Fred Friendly was the co-producer of See it Now along with Murrow, and went along with taking the risk to go after Joseph McCarthy on the news. Murrow was the face of See it Now—the face of CBS News, for that matter—while Fred operated behind the scenes and helped Murrow realize his vision. The two worked in tandem. In the film, Fred is depicted as cool-headed like Murrow, but sometimes having more doubts than Murrow about the efficacy of their project.

Sig Mickelson

Mickelson was the head of CBS News, and one of the reasons why it took so long to bring McCarthy down. He engendered a fear and hesitation among members of the media about reporting the truth, stemming from deep concerns about the retribution that McCarthy and his supporters might take against the network if Murrow’s programs were unsuccessful. He believes in Murrow, but he is more invested in CBS' ratings and future stability than anything else.

William Paley

William Paley is the head of CBS, the entire network. Like Mickelson, he is also wary of the potential blowback of Murrow’s plan to expose McCarthy, but he is shrewd enough to realize the value of Murrow as a celebrity as well as a journalist. Ultimately, he refuses to bow to pressure or anxiety that the program could have negative consequences for the entire network, yet he does not come out in formal support of Murrow's work. He is also the one that informs Murrow and Friendly of the high cost of their McCarthy shows: the loss of a major sponsor means the show will be moved to a less prominent time slot.

Don Hollenbeck

Don Hollenbeck is another CBS on-screen journalist who becomes the human face of McCarthyism's impact. Hollenbeck is routinely accused of being a communist sympathizer by a right-wing columnist employed by the ultra-conservative Hearst chain of newspapers. The assaults on Hollenbeck's character become more and more aggressive. When Hollenbeck expresses his support for Murrow, he becomes the subject of a smear campaign by anti-communists, that ultimately drives him to suicide.

Joseph and Shirley Wershba

Joseph and Shirley both work in the CBS News division, operating out of the same office. Due to a network policy prohibiting co-workers from being married, a subplot of the film relates to the steps the Wershbas are forced to take to hide their marriage from co-workers and friends. The necessary secrecy that the Wershbas must have about their marriage operates in parallel (on a smaller scale) to the fear and paranoia brought on by McCarthyism.

John Aaron

John Aaron is one of the journalists working on the story.