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June 1996, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 25 Jun 1996 16:59:08 EDT
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On Sun, 23 Jun 1996 09:36:18 -0800 Mark Allen said:
>Hm... not really a film study issue.
>However, it does bring a question to mind: Have there been any good papers
>written about the allure of stardom? Obviously those who have performed
>have always throughout history had a particular allure --but I am wondering
>if this has always been true, or if it is a phenomenon of the mass market
>media starting with radio. For example, in the medieval era, did the
>royalty fill the role of celebrity and where the actors really regarded as
>"whores" which is what I was taught in theater history? I suspect that the
>actors even then had the same allure, but I don't know.
>Does anyone know about this?
In the medieval era (and likely earlier) performers were part of the
households of various levels of royalty in Great Britain. During the
16th century these players were permitted to give public performances
(for their own account) when not occupied with their obligations to
their masters.
By the 18th century there were theaters with stars in Great Britain;
perhaps the most famous was David Garrick (1717-1779). In 1752, a
third-rate British "Company of Comedians" (as they were called) led by
Lewis Hallam came to the Colonies, and played up and down the East Coast.
Hallam died young but his company continued. The name of his son,
Lewis Jr. (1740-1808) on a bill would attract audiences in pre-revolutionary
days. He was a star. As were others in the same era.
Throughout the 19th century (before movies and certainly before radio)
there were numerous stars of stage, minstrel show, vaudeville, etc.
Legend has it that the first named movie star was Florence Lawrence
in 1912. Earlier players were not named but audiences selected their
favorites. "Little Mary" (i.e., Mary Pickford) was perhaps the best
Cal Pryluck, Radio-Television-Film, Temple University, Philadelphia
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