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/i>
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.
A penetrating, exhaustive contextualized study of Roxy's crucial role in every aspect of the early film industry...highly recommended.
The Washington Post
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.
Rick Altman, University of Iowa, author of Silent Film Sound
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.
John Belton, Rutgers University, author of American Cinema/American Culture
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.
Thomas Doherty, Brandeis University, author of Hollywood's Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration
Meet the Author
Ross Melnick is assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. in cinema and media studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a postdoctoral fellowship from Emory University. He has worked as a curator at the Museum of the Moving Image and in marketing for Loews Cineplex, Miramax, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and DreamWorks, and in film distribution for Sony Pictures. With Andreas Fuchs, he is the coauthor of Cinema Treasures.
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