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Leo Rosencrans, Movie-Struck Boy: A (Half-)Year in the Life of a Hollywood Extra


Leo Rosencrans, an Ohio native who came to Hollywood for four months in 1916–17 to pursue a career in filmmaking, left behind a record of his experiences in a series of letters that he wrote during his time in California. Inspired by the achievements of directors like D. W. Griffith and stories of fame promulgated by fan magazines, Leo sought employment as an extra. He proved largely unsuccessful and left Hollywood bitter and disillusioned. His letters provide a fascinating glimpse into the life of an extra, an existence framed by gender and class dynamics, labor struggles, and studio politics. As an addendum, this essay also reprints and examines one of these letters sent home to his family in Ohio.

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