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Male Beauty

Postwar Masculinity in Theater, Film, and Physique Magazines

Kenneth Krauss

Publication Year: 2014

Explores how a younger and more sensitive form of masculinity emerged in the United States after World War II.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Many people have helped me throughout the long process of researching and writing this book. Preeminent among them was Richard Harrison, who was kind enough to meet with me and discuss his career as a physique model in California. His kindness, intelligence, and wit launched my protracted...

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pp. 1-10

This study examines various cultural artifacts from a specific period and geographical situation in order to understand changes within a particular gender construct. The time is the postwar era and the place, the United States; the gender construct is masculinity. Although time and place are...

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Chapter 1: Seeing Through The Glass Menagerie: The Emerging Specter of Male Beauty

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pp. 11-38

In Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie, written and first produced before World War II had ended, the figure of the defiant, nonconformist young male, which would haunt American culture during the late 1940s and through the 1950s, first appears on stage; presciently, Williams creates...

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Chapter 2: Dangerous Male Beauty and the Masculine Style: Regular and Irregular Guys in Tea and Sympathy

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pp. 39-56

Although hailed in its day as an insightful and serious work, Robert Anderson’s first hit on Broadway, Tea and Sympathy, seems today a terribly confused and contradictory drama. Ultimately, the play only makes sense in narrative terms; once the audience starts to think about the implications...

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Chapter 3: Albee’s Untold Story: The Aftermath of Male Youth and Beauty

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pp. 57-80

In September 1959, Samuel Beckett’s short one-character one-act, “Krapp’s Last Tape,” was performed at Berlin’s Schiller Theatre Workshop along with a work written the year before by an unknown American playwright. Both were performed in German. Edward Albee, whose The Zoo Story rounded out...

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Chapter 4: Complicated Masculinity: The Beauty of Montgomery Clift

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pp. 81-124

As I suggested in the previous chapter, the critics of the original production obviously saw Maharis not as the once-handsome man sliding into middle age but as the handsome youth Maharis actually was—a deranged youth perhaps, even a “beatnik,” but clearly not a man who had suffered the “fall...

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Chapter 5: Doing and Undoing Masculinity: The Early Performances of Marlon Brando

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pp. 125-170

If any single male actor can be said to represent postwar American masculinity, it would have to be Marlon Brando. His range was wider and his oeuvre, larger than either Montgomery Clift’s or James Dean’s, his career surpassed and outlived theirs, and even after he had stopped acting, he remained for...

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Chapter 6: Beauty Forever Young: The Brief Career of James Dean

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pp. 171-204

Although both Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brando had begun by playing juvenile roles on stage, by the time they appeared on screen they were young men: They initially appeared as veterans of the war who were changed by their experiences and as such appealed to an audience composed not merely...

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Chapter 7: All About Dick: Physique Magazines and the Career of Richard Harrison

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pp. 205-239

In both postwar high and popular culture, images of males were repeatedly embodied by young men whose masculinity incorporated certain sensitivities, vulnerabilities, even defects. The wartime images of servicemen and postwar images of veterans, which proliferated in both theater and film...

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Chapter 8: As Beauty Does: The Retreating Dr. Bishop

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pp. 239-274

Sometime, as the 1950s wore on, the tone of the physique magazines relaxed and the various alibis for the display of homoerotic imagery—some publications defended themselves by indicating they were intended for artists and collectors, others as physical fitness champions—became less imperative. By...

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Chapter 9: Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Male Sex, Sexuality, and Gender

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pp. 275-320

In a previous chapter, I referred to one of Michael Bronski’s comments in Culture Clash about how the male body was portrayed in the postwar physique magazines; however, I quoted only that part of his discussion that applied to Richard Harrison and to so many of the other models in these...

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pp. 321-330

Even before the war broke out in Europe, the United States had created at least two broadly popular figures, one from motion pictures, the other from popular music, who personified the young male on the brink of what had been traditionally thought of as manhood: Both seemed devoid of the...


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pp. 331-338


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pp. 339-344


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pp. 345-358

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438450025
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438450018

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2014