Starstruck: Celebrity Performers and the American Public

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In Starstruck, Jib Fowles examines the singular occupation of being an American celebrity, defines the traits of a star, and captures the role of stardom in national life. Fowles surveys the lives and careers of 100 performers chosen from the ranks of Hollywood films, sports, the comedy circuit, and popular music. Fowles's cast includes some of the best-known names of this century: actors from John Barrymore to Rock Hudson, Theda Bara to Ingrid Bergman; sports legends such as Ty Cobb and Jackie Robinson; ...
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Overview

In Starstruck, Jib Fowles examines the singular occupation of being an American celebrity, defines the traits of a star, and captures the role of stardom in national life. Fowles surveys the lives and careers of 100 performers chosen from the ranks of Hollywood films, sports, the comedy circuit, and popular music. Fowles's cast includes some of the best-known names of this century: actors from John Barrymore to Rock Hudson, Theda Bara to Ingrid Bergman; sports legends such as Ty Cobb and Jackie Robinson; comedians Groucho Marx, John Belushi, and Lucille Ball; and musical stars from Glenn Miller to Liberace, Nat "King" Cole to Jimi Hendrix--all whose careers have been completed. Starstruck compares these celebrities' identities, their origins, how they succeeded, and the patterns of their rise and fall. Fowles considers the cultural and technological transformations that have encouraged the growth of stardom in this century. Focusing on society's relationship to its stars, he describes the characteristics of "Star Village," a community limited, Fowles argues, to about 100 stars of various types. Though the residents of Star Village may change, these prototypes persist, and new ones are added only as the culture at large defines an unresolved need. Well illustrated with photographic portraits, Starstruck illuminates a little-researched twentieth-century American phenomenon and an ever-growing feature of contemporary culture.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This interdisciplinary work takes a look at the sociological function of the ``stars'' of American entertainment and sports; i.e, the 100 or so figures who, in any given year, are recognized by most Americans. Fowles has ready explanations for all aspects of ``supercelebrityhood,'' many of them convincing. He offers a fresh scholarly work which is also highly readable, with many anecdotes and tidbits extracted from newspapers and books. Occasionally the academic rendering of an obvious facet of stardom has a comic effect, and some will not accept his thesis that ``stars are paid more than all others because they do more than all others for the maintenance of our way of life.'' Nevertheless, this is a clearheaded and positive examination of what is admittedly a significant part of the national psyche. Recommended for popular culture studies collections and others.--Brian Geary, West Seneca, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781560981237
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/1992
  • Pages: 284
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.12 (d)

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