Movie Crazy pp 85-108 | Cite as

The Inside Scoop

  • Samantha Barbas


To movie fans, the steady surge of movie star publicity was in many ways a dream come true. No longer would they have to write insistent letters to fan magazines, as they had in the early decades, asking about actors’ homes, marriages, and habits. Personal information about popular actors could now be found everywhere, from Photoplay to the Ladies’ Home Journal to cereal boxes and cookie tins. Fans were fascinated by this information, and filled scrapbooks with articles and clippings about their favorite actors. Many tried to outdo each other by uncovering more detailed and obscure movie-related facts.


Motion Picture Press Agent Film Industry Favorite Actor Popular Actor 
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  1. 3.
    Alexander Walker, Stardom (New York: Stein & Day, 1970), 111; Rudolph Valentino, “I’m Tired of Being a Sheik,” Collier’s, January 16, 1926.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    E. K. McMullen, “Are You Movie Wise,” Photoplay, August 1925, 71; Martin Levin, ed., Hollywood and the Great Fan Magazines (New York: Arbor House, 1970), 63; advertisement for Stars of the Photoplay, Photoplay, June 1931, 151.Google Scholar
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    Advertisement for “The Barretts of Wimpole Street,” MGM Studio News, August 16, 1934; Christopher Finch and Linda Rosencrantz, Gone Hollywood (New York: Doubleday, 1979), 274.Google Scholar
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    “Information Desk,” Modern Screen, September 1936, 66. As film critic Richard Schickel has observed, sound films revolutionized the relationship between audiences and stars. “The psychological distance between stars and their audience was radically shortened with the coming of sound. What seemed to be their last significant secret, their tones of voice, was now revealed.” See Richard Schickel, Intimate Strangers The Culture of Celebrity (New York: Doubleday, 1986), 99–100.Google Scholar
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    “Flickerings from Films,” New York American, August 5, October 25, 1925, Scrapbook 12, LOP, AMPAS; Neal Gabler, Winchell: Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity (New York: Knopf, 1994).Google Scholar
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    Walker, Stardom, 246. During Hollywood’s studio era, most actors relied on official studio publicists for their contact with the media. Those actors not contracted to studios or those who wanted additional publicity hired independent press agents. For the difference between publicists and press agents, see Jane Wilkie, Confessions of an Ex—Fan Magazine Writer (New York: Doubleday, 1980), ch. 3.Google Scholar
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    Herbert L. Strock, “Your Autograph Please,” Modern Screen, December 1936; Margaret Thorp, America at the Movies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1939), 87–8. The Hollywood star tour dates back to the early 1920s. In 1921, Adela Rogers St. Johns told Photoplay readers about her experience on one such tour: the reporter and “fifteen curious sightseers” sat in a rickety bus while the driver yelled to the passengers through a megaphone. “Any minute you may see Mary Pickford standing on some corner, or Bebe Daniels doing a Spanish dance on the sidewalk, or Katherine MacDonald smoking a cigarette,” he promised as the bus ambled up Hollywood Boulevard. Adela Rogers St. Johns, “Sight-seeing the Movies,” Photoplay, April 1921, 30.Google Scholar

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© Samantha Barbas 2001

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  • Samantha Barbas

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