By Jennifer M. Bean, Richard Abel, Giorgio Bertellini, Mark Cooper, Scott Curtis, Christine Gledhill, Kristen Grant, Rob King, Professor Daisuke Miyao, Anne Morey, Gaylyn Studlar, Kristen Whissel
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Extra resources for Flickers of Desire: Movie Stars of the 1910s
When, in December, David Belasco hired Pickford to perform a leading role in A Good Little Devil on Broadway, the threat of her disappearance from picture screens prompted much newspaper comment. In Waterloo, Iowa, a large photo story tried to claim her for “‘movie’ enthusiasts” as the “charming little ‘movie’ actress who has captured the hearts of thousands who do not even know her name” (“Happy Christmastide for Popular Little Heroine of Moving Pictures,” Waterloo Reporter, 28 December 1912, 8).
Dyer erroneously pinpoints a “paradigm” shift, somewhere near the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s, when stars transformed from “gods to mortals” and became “identiﬁcation ﬁgures, people like you and me—embodiments of typical ways of behaving” (24, my emphasis). Taken together, the ﬁrst two volumes in this Star Decades series offer an important correction to this historical generalization. Compare, for instance, Scott Curtis’s discussion of Douglas Fairbanks’s rise to stardom in this volume with his subsequent chapter on Fairbanks, “King of Hollywood,” in Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s.
In February of that year, in his “On the Screen” column in Moving Picture World, Thomas Bedding (Lux Graphicus) noted what he had once predicted, the arrival of “star performers”: “It is common talk in moving picture circles now that the success of a particular ﬁlm or of a particular company’s ﬁlms are traceable to one or two performers. . The outcome of all this of course is that the public interest in the picture heightens on account of its personalities” (5 February 1910, 167). Three months later, the writer of another column, “Observations by Our Man About Town,” was stunned to realize that “the interest the public has taken in the personality of many of the picture players is astonishing.