Stars, Fans, and Consumption in the 1950s: Reading Photoplay by Sumiko Higashi

By Sumiko Higashi

As the best fan journal within the postwar period, Photoplay developed lady stars as social varieties who embodied a romantic and leisured California way of life. Addressing operating- and lower-middle-class readers who have been prospering within the first mass intake society, the journal released not just exposure tales but additionally good looks secrets and techniques, type layouts, inside layout guidance, recipes, recommendation columns, and holiday courses. Postwar femininity was once built when it comes to entry to commodities in suburban homes because the web site of relations togetherness. because the decade advanced, although, altering social mores concerning lady identification and behaviour eroded the connection among idolized stars and worshipful enthusiasts. while the journal followed tabloid conventions to document intercourse scandals just like the Debbie-Eddie-Liz affair, stars have been demystified and enthusiasts turned scandalmongers. however the development of woman id in accordance with items and function that ended in risky, fragmented selves continues to be a legacy obtrusive in postmodern tradition today.

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Extra info for Stars, Fans, and Consumption in the 1950s: Reading Photoplay

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A picture of glowing health and vitality, she fell mysteriously ill in 1954. What were Doris Day 41 fans to conclude about a story that reported her returning home after surgery to remove a cyst and becoming downright dour? Certainly, Day was exhausted after making Calamity Jane (1953), but she was unaccountably “wan, . . ” Unavailable for comment, she became the subject of rumors about personal problems that required her to see a psychiatrist. She recovered and returned to the set, which in the past had been “alive with her .

After learning that “a marriage gets to be the most marvelous experience two people can share,” she trusted her husband’s judgment. 16 As Photoplay assumed tabloid conventions late in the decade, unflattering stories about Day signified changes in the magazine as well as in the social climate. About five years after the Melchers moved into their dream house, columnists Mike Connolly, Dorothy Kilgallen, Sidney Skolsky, and Sheilah Graham began circulating a rumor that the couple was on the Doris Day 45 verge of separating.

After Liz Taylor hired Audrey Hepburn’s agent, Kurt Frings, she began to command a million dollars ($7,480,000 today) for her films. As for wholesome Debbie Reynolds, her asking price also rose, and she consoled herself with a new wardrobe, a vacation in Hawaii, and a million-dollar divorce settlement. Assessing the morality of stars as they conducted their private lives were, of course, the fans who idolized them as role models before they were demystified. As the decade progressed, the moral legibility of the stars became less clear in response to the changing social mores of an increasingly narcissistic consumer culture.

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