Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics


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Most had economically difficult childhoods, but not Fonda, whose father was a star. Most struggled to maintain families and careers simultaneously, but not Reagan, until much later in his life. Yet there are fascinating parallels to be drawn in the book. Many of the subjects started becoming activists in order to defend apparently uncontroversial classical liberal ideals, like the dignity of the working man, freedom of speech, or opposition to Nazi Germany.

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Reagan started as a defender of free speech and acting unions, but Communist Party-USA controversies and schisms, both real and overblown, plus a marriage into a conservative family, quickly pushed him to the right. Robinson was an anti-fascist activist; he naturally praised the Red Army for fighting against Hitler, but post-war McCarthyism saw those quotes as a sin and destroyed his career. Heston was a Hollywood leader against segregation, but tours meeting the troops in Vietnam gave him a new focus.

Ross, Professor of History at the University of Southern California, challenges this conventional wisdom.

Hollywood and Politics - Cinema and Media Studies - Oxford Bibliographies

Basing his conclusions upon detailed archival research into the political and film careers of ten Hollywood activists, Ross argues that while a majority in the film community may identify with liberal causes, conservatives have enjoyed far more success when it comes to electoral politics. The result is a remarkably well balanced and written book that challenges popular assumptions about the role of the film industry in American life and politics.

Ross cites Charlie Chaplin as the first political movie star, noting that his sympathy for radical causes originated in his own impoverished background. Chaplin was often critical of capitalism in his films and public comments, but Ross asserts that he was certainly never a communist. The communist issue also derailed Edward G.


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A humiliated Robinson confessed to being duped by Communists disguising their activities through Popular Front organizations. The aging actor, however, was unable to resurrect his career. Still, the selection process is a serious-minded affair, according to the Walk's gatekeepers. A star is awarded after a lengthy process in which hundreds of nomination applications are sent to the Hollywood chamber, and then its Walk of Fame committee selects the winners, with the approval of the chamber's board of directors. Sometimes, several annual nominations must be made before a nominee finally receives a star, chamber officials said.

The chamber has other criteria for who gets a star: professional achievement, longevity of five years or more, contributions to the community and the guarantee that the celebrity will attend the dedication ceremony. An honoree also has to agree to be nominated, which may be a factor in why not all major celebrities have a star.

Sometimes, a performer doesn't want one, such as Julia Roberts. By the end of -- with a few more minority celebrities scheduled to be honored this year -- the Walk of Fame will have 77 stars overall given to Latinos, stars to African-Americans or African-American ensembles three of those performers -- Nat "King" Cole, Lena Horne and Sarah Vaughn -- have a second star, but they are counted only once , and only 10 stars to Asians, according to the chamber.

When asked about the dearth of Asian artists on the Walk of Fame, Gubler stated: "There have been relatively few nominations for Asian entertainers. Someone has to be nominated by a sponsor in order to be considered with a star. The issue must be pursued by a nominator. The committee can only consider from the pool of candidates that have been nominated.

Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics by Steven J. Ross

A recent decade-by-decade analysis of the stars on the Walk of Fame shows that the s were a boom decade for African-Americans, when 49 stars were awarded to them. During the s, they secured 24 stars. From to the end of , the number will be Latinos, however, have prospered from to the end of Nineteen stars were awarded, including four this year alone, according to a CNN analysis.

That compares with 18 during the s and 11 during the s. It was the recent success of Latinos that caught the attention of several Hollywood analysts. That trend comes as the U. Census put the burgeoning Latino population at the nation's No. On Tuesday, two-time Grammy and seven-time Latin Grammy winner Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll -- known professionally as Shakira -- received a star for her accomplishments as a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer and philanthropist, the chamber said.

It's no secret that studios and record labels alike are hoping to find additional revenues in the rapidly growing Latino market.

Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics
Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics
Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics
Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics
Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics
Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics

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