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Stardust Monuments

The Saving and Selling of Hollywood

Alison Trope

Publication Year: 2012

Hollywood is placeless, timeless, and iconic, a key fabricator and forger of American cultural myths and stories. How, then, will the history of Hollywood be written? Stardust Monuments spotlights the enduring efforts to memorialize and canonize the history and meaning of Hollywood and American film culture. In this engaging analysis, Alison Trope explores the tensions between art and commerce as they intersect in a range of nonprofit and for-profit institutions and products. An insightful tour of Hollywood’s past, present, and future, Stardust Monuments examines the establishment of film libraries and museums beginning in the mid 1930s, the many failed attempts to open a Hollywood museum ranging from the 1960s to today, and the more successful recent corporate efforts to use Hollywood’s past in theme restaurants and parks, classic movie channels, and DVD boxed sets. This fascinating narrative details the ongoing struggle to champion and codify Hollywood’s legacy, a struggle engaged in by Hollywood stars and corporate executives, as well as memorabilia collectors and users of IMDb.

Published by: Dartmouth College Press


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pp. c-ii

Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction | Spotlight Hollywood: The Power of Place

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pp. 1-10

In 1950, anthropologist Hortense Powdermaker published Hollywood, the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-Makers, the result of a one-year field study surveying the inner workings, power dynamics, and social system that fueled Hollywood’s film industry in the postwar period. In it, she observes, “Hollywood is a unique American phenomenon with a symbolism not limited to this country. It means many things to many people. . . . Rarely is it just a community where movies are made.”1...

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1 | Essential Hollywood: Curating Motion Picture History in the Museum

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pp. 11-44

In 1939, March of Time producer Louis de Rochemont set out to make a special installment of the newsreel series entitled “The Movies March On.” The newsreel, which screened in over eight thousand theaters, centered on Hollywood history, the future of the motion picture, and the role of the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) Film Library in preserving the medium’s past. As the Motion Picture Herald noted, this installment granted the motion picture the same weight...

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2 | The Great Whatzit?: Self-Service Meets Public Service in the Hollywood Museum

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pp. 45-88

On October 21, 1963, as many as seven thousand Los Angeles residents, fans, reporters, and celebrities gathered on a four-and-one-half-acre land parcel on Highland Boulevard across the street from the Hollywood Bowl. The festivities announced the official groundbreaking of the Hollywood Museum, a project that had been germinating since the mid-1950s. Rosalind Russell, presiding over the ceremony, opened by reading a congratulatory telegram sent by President...

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3 | Out of Bounds: Remapping Hollywood as Themed Experience

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pp. 89-126

On April 1, 1995, Debbie Reynolds hosted a gala to inaugurate her very own Holly wood Movie Museum at her Las Vegas hotel and casino. In addition to the real guests in attendance such as Esther Williams, David Geff en, Jack Haley Jr., and the Smothers Brothers, Reynolds constructed a Hollywood wax museum to permanently populate the hotel’s lobby with life-size figures of Hollywood luminaries including Frank Sinatra, Mae West, and Laurel and Hardy. After...

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4 | Hollywood in a Box: Channeling Hollywood through Home Entertainment

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pp. 127-170

In 1951, Ed Sullivan began to court Hollywood studios. In order to distinguish his variety show, Toast of the Town, and align it with the prestige of Hollywood moviemaking, Sullivan regularly transformed his television series into a Hollywood promotional vehicle, paying homage to individual movies, studios, and power brokers such as Samuel Goldwyn and David O. Selznick. Initially unreceptive to television, Warner Bros. shunned Sullivan’s invitation in 1951 to...

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5 | Handheld Hollywood

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pp. 171-190

If you type “Hollywood Walk of Fame” into the search field of Apple’s iTunes store, six different iPhone applications dedicated to the site pop up. In 2010, two of the application creators, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and an independent organization called the Hollywood Walk of Fame (HWOF), announced their respective versions of competing applications (apps) that allow users to locate and access information about the nearly 2,400 stars on the iconic Walk...

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pp. 191-194

Given the long gestation of this project, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the number of people I want to thank. The project began as a dissertation in the Critical Studies department at University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television, where I was mentored by an awe-inspiring faculty committee. My advisor, Lynn Spigel, significantly shaped my thinking and approach to history and historiography in many thought-provoking graduate seminars and at each stage in the book’s development. I am...


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pp. 195-224


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pp. 225-232


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pp. 233-248

E-ISBN-13: 9781611681956
E-ISBN-10: 1611681952
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611680454
Print-ISBN-10: 161168045X

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 30 illus.
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 781378057
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Stardust Monuments

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Popular culture -- California -- Los Angeles -- History.
  • Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- History.
  • Motion picture industry -- California -- Los Angeles -- History.
  • Hollywood (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Description and travel.
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