Thursday, April 8, 2010

Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine

Just out from the University Press of Mississippi is Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers, by the acclaimed film historian Anthony Slide. 

This  illustrated hardcover work is sure to be one of the big film books of the year. Copies are just now hitting store shelves, and it looks to be not only a great reference work but also a great read. And, there's also lots of material on the silent film era within its 288 pages.

Slide's new book is certainly the definitive history of the movie fan magazine and how it both espoused hoopla and fashioned stardom. Of it, Kevin Brownlow wrote "I am enthusiastic about this survey - it is as entertaining as it is informative."

Leonard Maltin noted, "For anyone who equates 'fan magazines' with supermarket tabloids, this book should come as a revelation. Tony Slide has done a formidable job of research to chart the birth, rise, and fall of Hollywood fan magazines in the twentieth century, their relationship to the industry they covered, and the readers they served. It's a colorful, well-told history that's full of surprises."

According to the publisher:
The fan magazine has often been viewed simply as a publicity tool, a fluffy exercise in self-promotion by the film industry. But as an arbiter of good and bad taste, as a source of knowledge, and as a gateway to the fabled land of Hollywood and its stars, the American fan magazine represents a fascinating and indispensable chapter in journalism and popular culture.

Anthony Slide's Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine provides the definitive history of this artifact. It charts the development of the fan magazine from the golden years when Motion Picture Story Magazine and Photoplay first appeared in 1911 to its decline into provocative headlines and titillation in the 1960s and afterward. Slide discusses how the fan magazines dealt with gossip and innuendo, and how they handled nationwide issues such as Hollywood scandals of the 1920s, World War II, the blacklist, and the death of President Kennedy. Fan magazines thrived in the twentieth century, and they presented the history of an industry in a unique, sometimes accurate, and always entertaining style.

This major cultural history includes a new interview with 1970s media personality Rona Barrett, as well as original commentary from a dozen editors and writers. Also included is a chapter on contributions to the fan magazines from well-known writers such as Theodore Dreiser and e. e. cummings. The book is enhanced by an appendix documenting some 268 American fan magazines and includes detailed publication histories.
Anthony Slide is an independent scholar who has published more than seventy books on the movies and popular culture. He has been an associate archivist for the American Film Institute, the resident film historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,  a specialist appraiser of entertainment memorabilia for more than thirty years, and a two time guest at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. His Silent Players: A Biographical and Autobiographical Study of 100 Silent Film Actors and Actresses has been a perennial bestseller at past Festivals.

Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers is a worthy addition to the shelves of any student of film history. There should be a big stack of them (at the book table on the mezzanine) at the Silent Film Festival in July. If you can't wait till then, the book is available on-line or through better independent bookstores.

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