From Mae to Madonna: Women Entertainers in Twentieth-Century America

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Entertainers were the first group of women to capture the public eye, taking to the stage in vaudeville and film and redefining their place in society. June Sochen introduces the women who danced on Broadway, fell on bananas in silent films, and wisecracked in smoky clubs, as well as the modern icons of today's movies and popular music.

Sochen considers such women as Mae West, Bette Davis, Shirley Temple, Pain Grier, Lucille Ball, and Mary ...

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Overview

Entertainers were the first group of women to capture the public eye, taking to the stage in vaudeville and film and redefining their place in society. June Sochen introduces the women who danced on Broadway, fell on bananas in silent films, and wisecracked in smoky clubs, as well as the modern icons of today's movies and popular music.

Sochen considers such women as Mae West, Bette Davis, Shirley Temple, Pain Grier, Lucille Ball, and Mary Tyler Moore to discover what show business did for them and what they did for the world of entertainment.

In examining how they worked within or transformed particular genres and how their personal and public lives affected their careers, From Mae to Madonna casts the spotlight on a series of remarkable women and their dramatic effect on America's popular culture.

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Editorial Reviews

Winter K. Miller
...[A] basic introduction to modern female performers. It covers enough ground to be interestingbut is too broad... —The New York Times Book Review
Library Journal
These two volumes examine the historical impact of women in the entertainment industry, offering perceptive comments about American culture in the process. Sochen history, Northeastern Illinois Univ. divides performers into various groups: black women vaudevillians, bawdy women entertainers, the entertainer as reformer, child stars, and women comics, to name a few. She examines a potpourri of stars within these contexts, including the details of their careers, the obstacles they encountered, their personal histories, their impact on the public, and their relevance to the eras in which they performed. Many were symbolic of Eve the seductress, Mary sweet and innocent, or Lillith the career woman, while others violated these conventional female boundaries. Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ethel Waters, Mae West, Eva Tanguay, Shirley Temple, Dinah Shore, and Roseanne Barr are among those discussed. Popular entertainment collections should find this work useful. Rank Ladies, on the other hand, focuses more exclusively on women in vaudeville, discussing their history, specialties, difficulties, and triumphs as well as their place in society in the early part of this century. Women performers gradually introduced more complex elements to the vaudeville stage--e.g., classical music, satire, theatrical adaptations, and inventive material--that challenged previous standards. Curiously, this produced a mix that was at once successful, provocative, and threatening, changing the composition of audiences, the philosophies of theater managers, the texture of the vaudeville art form, and the nature of the entertainers' work environment. Kibler Ctr. for Women's Studies, Australian National Univ. has done an impressive job not only of researching her subject but also of fluidly weaving it into a valuable and entertaining narrative from which she draws perceptive insights and conclusions on the culture of the time that are relevant in any age. For scholarly audiences and those interested in early 20th century American culture.--Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Winter K. Miller
...[A] basic introduction to modern female performers. It covers enough ground to be interesting, but is too broad...
The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
"Sochen opines that, as an entity, female entertainers were the first women to capture the public eye." — American Historical Review

"For anyone interested in the changing role of women in the mass media, From Mae to Madonna offers a fascinating account of how much and how little things have changed." — Douglas Gomery

"A broad survey of images of women in commercial entertainment, looking beyond simply cinema to vaudeville, nightclubs, radio, television, and popular music." — Journal of American History

"Strives to reach a more nuanced comprehension of women in popular culture. She calls attention to the importance of seeing popular culture as a category of inquiry and demonstrates how placing women performers within their historical contexts offers significant understanding of American women's experiences." — Journal of Women's History

"Examine[s] the historical impact of women in the entertainment industry, offering perceptive comments about American culture in the process." — Library Journal

"Sochen describes the ways women escaped the banal and stereotypical, the ways in which they led insurrections against social and sexual restrictions. Behind 'nice girl' and 'bad girl' images, women on stage deployed their resources against the lines of perfect decorum." — Lillian Schlissel, CUNY

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813121123
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.28 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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