History of the Hollywood Star System

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The "star system" was a method of developing and advancing the popularity of Hollywood movie stars. The system, which began during the height of the Hollywood studio system era, emphasized the image of the actor instead on the actual acting. The movie studio's profits were driven by the popularity of the stars that appeared in their films. According to Rocco, the stars had long term contracts with the movie studios that paid them a weekly salary, and the stars were identified with specific types of characters that would often be repeated in many movies. Belton stated that "the star provides the studio with a tangible attraction, an image that can be advertized and marketed, offsetting the less tangible qualities of the story, directing, acting, art direction, costume design, and overall studio style" (89). The star system was embraced by movie studios because the popularity of the actors heavily influences the demand for the films.
A Hollywood star is known mostly for the characters they have portrayed in the movies in which he or she acted. The audience typically does not get introduced to the real person, and it is often difficult to distinguish the star from the roles they play. Belton stated that stars are made up of three personalities- the movie star, the actor, and the real person (95). Many actors and actress try to shield their personal lives from the public, while others embrace the public attention they receive from the media and the public. According to Belton, an actor or an actress becomes a star when their persona rises above their on-screen performances (96). There are numerous actors in the world, but only a fraction will become a star. According to Whitty, transforming from a actor to a star can be a ...

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Whitty, Stephen. "Movie Stars vs. Actors: How to tell the Difference." 21 April 2013. New Jersey Online. Web. 2 May 2014. < http://www.nj.com/entertainment/ index.ssf/2013/04/movie_stars_vs_actors_how_to_t.html>

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