Herbert Biberman was born in Philadelphia on 4th March, 1900. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania he spent several years in Europe before joining the family textile business.
In 1928 Biberman joined the Theater Guild as an assistant stage manager and the following year directed the Soviet play, Red Rust. After marrying the actress Gale Sondergaard in 1930, Biberman directed three more plays: Roar China, Green Grow the Lilacs and Miracle at Verdun.
After the Second World War the House of Un-American Activities Committee began an investigation into the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry. In September 1947, the HUAC interviewed 41 people who were working in Hollywood. These people attended voluntarily and became known as "friendly witnesses". During their interviews they named several people who they accused of holding left-wing views.
Biberman appeared before the HUAC on 29th October, 1947, but like, Alvah Bessie, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz, Adrian Scott, Dalton Trumbo, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., Samuel Ornitz and John Howard Lawson, he refused to answer any questions. Known as the Hollywood Ten, they claimed that the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution gave them the right to do this. The House of Un-American Activities Committee and the courts during appeals disagreed and all were found guilty of contempt of Congress and Biberman was sentenced to six months in Texarkana Federal Correctional Institution and fined $1,000.
Blacklisted by the Hollywood studios, Biberman was forced to finance his own work. In 1954 he worked with Michael Wilson, Adrian Scott and Paul Jarrico on Salt of the Earth (1954), a film about a mining strike in New Mexico. Although the film earned critical acclaim in Europe, winning awards in France and Czechoslovakia, it was not allowed to be shown in the United States until 1965.
Herbert Biberman died of bone cancer on 30th June, 1971.