American Showman: Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry, 1908-1935by Ross Melnick
Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel (1882-1936) built an extraordinary career as film exhibitor, stage producer, radio broadcaster, musical arranger, theater manager, war propagandist, and international celebrity. The first book devoted to his multifaceted life and career, American Showman examines Rothafel's role as the key purveyor of a new film exhibition aesthetic/i>… See more details below
Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel (1882-1936) built an extraordinary career as film exhibitor, stage producer, radio broadcaster, musical arranger, theater manager, war propagandist, and international celebrity. The first book devoted to his multifaceted life and career, American Showman examines Rothafel's role as the key purveyor of a new film exhibition aesthetic that attracted audiences across economic classes and boundaries and his development of a new, convergent entertainment industry.
Columbia University Press
The Washington Post
A penetrating, exhaustive contextualized study of Roxy's crucial role in every aspect of the early film industry...highly recommended.
[An] eye-poppingly informative new book.... To paraphrase Frank Loesser's 'Guys and Dolls,' with the publication of American Showman, the question 'What's playing at the Roxy?' can now be answered: 'First-rate cultural history.'
[An] exhaustive biography.
Dr. Melnick skillfully captures the substance and durability of Rothafel's prolific life.New York Times
American Showman is a fascinating, passionate, and definitive biography of Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel.... Melnick unveils aspects of Rothafel's career that change our understanding of American film history from the late 1910s to the early 1930s.
For anyone interested in the historical transition from the Nickelodeon era to the classical Hollywood cinema, Ross Melnick's American Showman is a must read.
An impeccably researched and definitive study of Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel
Roxy?'s extraordinary life, as Melnick illustrates, serves as a powerful lens through which to examine a dynamic age of cultural change in American life.
Anyone who cares about the development of film exhibition in the early 20th century should consider it essential reading... even a casual film buff will find much to enjoy... the book is well written and not overly burdened with jargon.
With so many greatly exaggerated reports of the death of cinema abroad, what a pleasure to read Ross Melnick's scrupulously researched, exhaustive biography of movie-palace impresario Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel -- a biography that doubles as a cultural history, looking to a moment when the movies were the upstarts, making vaudeville and live theatre quake in their boots.
What People are saying about this
It's about time that we are finally getting the full story of America's most daring and successful showman. On a par with Thomas Edison, D. W. Griffith, and P. T. Barnum, Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel was not only the most important impresario the film world has ever known, but he was also a leader in the realm of silent film music and the country's first major radio personality. For nearly two decades, Roxy was the most powerful man in the film industry--yet until now we have lacked a serious treatment of his fabulous career. American Showman rights that wrong, and how! Ross Melnick's book is that rare combination of in-depth research and a great read. Finally, Roxy has received his due.
American Showman is at the cutting edge of contemporary film studies. It is to this book that future generations of film scholars engaged in cultural history will turn.
Once quite literally up in lights, the name of Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel has dimmed over time--an oversight happily remedied by Ross Melnick's splendid new study of the legendary showman. An engaging writer, insightful critic, and rigorous scholar, Melnick has vividly recaptured the magic and moxie of this pioneer of the American entertainment industry, a marquee name in vaudeville, radio, and motion pictures. Melnick's illuminating cultural biography is not just the engrossing story of the beloved and larger-than-life Roxy but a fascinating journey into American culture in the first passionate years of a lifelong affair with its own mass media.
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