Tail Gunner Joe

Tail Gunner Joe is a 1977 television movie dramatizing the life of U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican who claimed knowledge of communist infiltration of the U.S. government during the 1950s. The film was broadcast on NBC-TV. It was nominated for six Emmy awards and won two: best writing and best supporting actor for Burgess Meredith's portrayal of attorney Joseph Welch. It starred Peter Boyle (as McCarthy) and John Forsythe. Robert F. Simon appeared as liberal journalist Drew Pearson.

Tail Gunner Joe
Written byLane Slate
Directed byJud Taylor
StarringPeter Boyle
Burgess Meredith
John Forsythe
Robert F. Simon
Music byBilly May
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)George Eckstein
Norman Chandler Fox (associate producer)
CinematographyRic Waite
Editor(s)Bernard J. Small
Running time145 min
Production company(s)Universal Television
Original networkNBC
Original release
  • February 6, 1977 (1977-02-06)

The nickname 'Tail Gunner Joe' is a derisive term for the Senator that originated from his false claim to have been a tail gunner on American bombers during World War II.[1]


  1. Garraty, John (1989). 1,001 Things Everyone Should Know About American History. New York: Doubleday. p. 24. ISBN 0-385-24432-0.

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