The award is named after the screenwriter who worked with Orson Welles but died in military service during World War II. Posthumously, Meltzer was named during hearings in 1947 by the House Un-American Activities Committee as it investigated the Hollywood community for alleged communist sympathies.
Some members of the community testified and others refused. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo did not testify and went to prison as one of the Hollywood 10, a group of writers who did not co-operate with HUAC. After his release from prison, Trumbo resumed his career writing under assumed names. In 1960, Douglas hired Trumbo to write the screenplay for "Spartacus," using Trumbo's name openly--an act that helped break the blacklisting of Trumbo.
The guild's Meltzer Award went to Douglas in recognition of that act. The actor received a standing ovation during the ceremonies as he accepted.
Other honorary awards:
Screen Laurel Award: Alvin Sargent.
Valentine Davies Award: Frank Pierson.
Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television: posthumously to Carol Sobieski.
Edmund H. North Founders Award: Daniel Taradash.
Morgan Cox Award: Christopher Knopf.
Paul Selvin Award: Michael Lazarou.
Evelyn F. Burkey Memorial Award: George Schaefer.
Richard B. Jablow Award: Corinne Jacker.
John Merriman Memorial Award: Stephen Ward.
Hal Terkel Memorial News Writing Award: Bruce Kauffman.