Please post any ideas or research for this episode that you want to contribute in this topic. If the episode hasn’t been assigned to an author yet, you can note your intent to write in the string too, and we will contact you to discuss.
If you have time to give some quick ideas on this one, ot would be greatly appreciated. Only thing is that this one is in 1922 and we need to shoot that on Saturday, so we’re under extreme time pressure. I’m basing what I’m writing on an episode we wrote last year when experimenting with B2W. If it’s possible on such short notice, maybe you can have look at it and ad your two cents… I know that’s it’s impossibly short notice, so I have the greatest understanding if it’s not possible, in any case thanks for volunteering!
Here’s the text I’m starting with:
We take them for granted today, the movie stars or TV stars or YouTube stars, and millions of people follow their lives. And by that I mean every single moment of their lives, but it wasn’t always so, and you can trace the rise of the cult of media personality directly to the explosion of film in the interwar years.
This happened- this new phenomenon- as a result of that explosion, and also the radio, phonograph, and newsreel explosion that really created the modern cult of personality that changed the way the world viewed those it loved and those it hated in those interwar years.
The world went from loving this guy…
…to following guys like this:
But how did we get there?
Cult of personality has been a part of humanity since the dawn of recorded history, but before the twentieth century, stars were only as famous as widely as their reputation could travel, they weren’t global super stars. Moving images and the cinema would create the global super star for better or for worse.
Carl Laemmle was one big figure that set that in motion. He was a German immigrant in America and the year was 1910. Motion pictures were by then an important part of everyday life even after just their brief existence. There were, actually, already movie stars, but nobody knew their names. Instead they were associated with the names of the fledgling film studios.
So the anonymous “star” Florence Lawrence was known as the “Biograph Girl” because she worked for the Biograph Film Company and she was wildly popular, though nobody knew who she was in real life. Her name was Florence Annie Bridgewood and she was, as you may imagine, not too happy about all of this, though she knew that as the Biograph Girl she was dependent on the studio. But she wanted people to know her as Florence Lawrence. Yes, I’m aware that it rhymes. Biograph Film refused.
Laemmle, on the other hand, was starting his own studio and needed a marketing gimmick to set him apart from the virtual monopoly of the other studios. He called it The Independent Moving Pictures Company but would later rename it Universal Studios, and when Lawrence left Biograph, he hired her and immediately began promoting her as HERSELF. As you might guess, people loved her even more when they knew her as Florence, and she loved movie life even more when they loved her as Florence.
Laemmle pioneered the spoof PR story for their first film together, “The Broken Bath”. He spread rumors of her death in a St. Louis streetcar accident, and then “resurrected” her at the film’s premiere a month later. People loved the drama off screen as much as on, and Carl and Florence had struck box office gold!
They would soon go their separate ways, but Laemmle hired another Biograpg Girl - Mary Pickford and created a new star in her, the biggest of all so far, as Lawrence moved on to her next studio, creating the game of studio musical chairs that still exists today.
As the First World War ended, this blew up to huge proportions. Entertainment was no longer enough; people wanted glamor, glitz, and gossip, and the studios in Hollywood, Berlin, London, and Paris were all too happy to acquiesce. The world was suddenly filled with movie stars to look up to, be shocked by, and to personally identify with. The global superstar was born.
The most famous of them all was soon Charlie Chaplin, and by the early twenties, he had created an independent studio by the stars and for the stars, together with amongst others Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Mary Pickford.
As a great actor and great filmmaker, Chaplin was a natural at the publicity game. It also helped that he led a tumultuous and scandalous love life, with everything from marriages to underage girls to well-publicized romantic relationship with other stars. One of them was Pola Negri. Between 1921 and 1924 they were in every paper, and in a way they were the Brangelinas of the early 20s.
But motion pictures didn’t only make stars out of actors and actresses; politicians quickly acquired a taste for the medium and used it for propaganda. In fact, one of the first widely distributed full color films was a 150-minute long propaganda piece celebrating the coronation of King George of England as Emperor of India way back in 1911.
However, it would take a new generation of politician to take it to the next level and combine film with propaganda. Enter Joseph Goebbels - Nazi Minister of Propaganda. Both Adolf Hitler and Goebbels were avid film fans and understood the extraordinary power of moving images. Once in power, they promptly engaged leading German filmmakers sympathetic to the Nazi cause to make propaganda for the party and its leader.
Their most effective film relationship was arguably with Leni Riefenstahl, who created three Nazi propaganda films. Two of them, Der Sieg des Glaubens and Triumph des Willens, would make movie history.
Riefenstahl was a filmmaking genius, introducing new ways of shooting and editing, She combined documentary filmmaking with emotion and pathos in unprecedented ways, and was so good at her job that one of her main opponents, John Grierson- the head of the Canadian Film Board during World War II and the maker of many anti-Nazi propaganda films- is said to have publicity kissed her feet in admiration when he eventually met her after the war.
Despite her films’ content, Riefenstahl continues to influence filmmakers to this day, and her body of work has influenced films like Star Wars, Apocalypse Now, and even Schindler’s List, a film with the exact opposite message of her own. Her support for the Nazi regime, however, destroyed her reputation forever. Postwar, it would take until she was over 90 years old before she would be allowed to complete another film, a three-hour underwater nature epic. To do so, she learnt how to scuba dive at 88 - becoming the oldest person to ever take a diving license. Completed in the late 1990s, it was again a masterpiece of filmmaking.
It wasn’t only willing admirers and sympathetic travellers who helped Goebbels, though. He appropriated the star system from the 1920s and put it to work for the Nazis. In 1933, together with Alfred Hugenberg, a German media mogul and the first Nazi Minister of Economics, he took control of the leading German film studio UFA. Parallel to creating propaganda, UFA continued to produce entertainment films, with the slight difference that they were now pro-Nazi and worked as subtle, invasive tools to spread the ideology of the party.
UFA produced and distributed in Germany, France, Belgium, and the United States, so stars from the whole world, either wittingly or unwittingly, were now working for the Nazis to promote their cause, and we’re talking serious paycheck stars like Hans Albers, Zarah Leander, and Pola Negri.
Negri had begun her career with UFA in the teens and early twenties. In 1935 she was brought back to Germany to star in the murder drama “Mazurka” for Tobis films, another Nazi label. The film was an instant hit and became one of Hitler’s favorite films. UFA saw their chance to reclaim their star and made her an exceptional offer.
Living in France, she worked for UFA, producing five films by 1938, but her public association with the Nazi media machine and Hitler’s fan-girl like adoration of her led to the French gossip magazine “Pour Vous” publicizing an alleged love affair between Pola and the Führer. Negri sued the magazine for libel and won. That lawsuit and the fact that she fled back to the US when the Germans invaded France saved her reputation.
So… Negri escaped any lasting damage from her Nazi collaboration. Others, like Zarah Leander or Hans Albers wouldn’t fare so well- after the war, most of them tried to distance themselves from their previous employers, but saw their careers largely destroyed or at least severely damaged. The Nazis were arguably the first to systematically appropriate celebrities for their cause, but they certainly weren’t the last. Today, the media industry has become so intertwined with politics that it’s hardly possibly to separate one from the other, and again and again we see media celebrities willingly, or even unwillingly, associate themselves with political causes for better or worse, and it raises the question what responsibility we have as role models.
I see your problem a topic that could take several episodes to tell has to be boiled down to a 20 minute video.
To let you know I am Jewish and I do live in Los Angeles.
I feel you are spending to much time on Leni Riefenstahl. I feel more important is Alfred Hugenberg because it’s the story of how media moguls influence politics and sometimes it has disastrous results. You leave out his relation to the German National People’s Party (DVNP) they were a major conservative party of the Weimar Republic and it’s chairman was Alfred Hugenberg who also controlled most of the German media. He allied the DVNP with the NAZI’s and also aided them with large amounts of cash. Hugenberg thought that he could control the NAZI’s after they gained power but was soon disillusioned and resigned his post in Hitler’s cabinet. Hugenberg’s politics where extremely nationalistic and anti-semitic but he thought the NAZI’s were to socialistic. (all of this is terribly oversimplified). One of the first fallouts of Hugenberg takeover of Ufa was that there was an artistic drain at Ufa when Erich Pommer left and with Ufa comming under NAZI control more people left. Most making their way to Los Angeles.
I am a little upset you never mention that Hollywood was created by Jewish immigrants, Laemmle was a Jewish immigrant not a German immigrant. Jewish immigrants ot the U.S. do not have identity with European nations but just refer to themselves as Jewish immigrants.
The following is just a copy and paste from
History: The men who founded the studio system—Adolph Zukor, Louis B. Mayer, and the brothers Jack, Harry and Sam Warner—were all Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. They came to Hollywood from America’s Northeast where they owned theaters that were or had been venues for vaudeville and burlesque. These theaters primarily catered to urban working people, many of whom were Jewish, Italian and Slavic immigrants or first generation Americans. Their owners had discovered that showing films in their theaters was more profitable than staging live acts. The problem was supply, which is why the moguls-to-be were drawn to Hollywood.
In the years before World War I, America’s leading filmmakers had settled in and around Hollywood. The reasons were literally location, location, location. First, this enclave of Los Angeles was as far away as possible in the United States from the New Jersey home of Thomas Edison. The distance made it impractical if not impossible for the litigious inventor to sue filmmakers for patent infringements. Second, Southern California weather accommodated filming year round. Skies were not only sunny but cloudless, providing the consistent light needed for continuity. Hollywood was even optimal within the Los Angeles basin; being 15 miles inland, it was little affected by marine fog. Finally, the nearby and eclectic terrains—ranches, mountains, forest, desert and seashore—could pass for most locales in the world, particularly in black and white.
The film industry boomed in America during World I. Freedom finally to make the most of filmmaking technology was one reason. As director and producer Francis Ford Coppola theorized, leading writers of the 19th Century envisioned and longed for filmmaking capability. “When the human race got the gift of cinema, they just went mad,” he said. No one was more enthusiastic than the industry’s many Jews, whose religion—“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.”—discouraged if not prohibited sculpture and even painting. Meanwhile, Hollywood benefited from the Great War, which put the film industries of England and France on hold. Although German and Russian filmmakers remained active, their offerings never went farther west than the trenches and the Allies naval blockade of Germany. At the end of the war, Hollywood motion pictures were America’s fifth largest industry.
The Making of Classic Hollywood
Zukor’s Paramount Pictures, Mayer’s Metro Goldwyn Mayer, the brothers Warner’s Warner Brothers Pictures and (former Warner Brothers production head) Daryl Zanuck’s 20th Century Fox shaped the studio system. Later in 1928, with the advent of sound, RKO Pictures was founded by David Sarnoff to round out what would become known as “The Big Five.” Studios such as Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures and United Artists emulated the Big Five’s production practices, but possessed no theater chains of their own and relied on The Big Five for distribution.
For good reason were the studios called “dream factories.” They were organized and run to deliver a steady stream of product to theaters that the studios owned or partly owned. Their product, in a word, was storytelling. Continuity in movement, actors’ positions, dialogue, lighting, sound—in sum, every aspect of the filmmaking process—was imperative. Anything that diverted attention from the story to the filmmaking process was a mistake. The final responsibility for continuity resided with film editors, ergo the term “continuity editing,” aka “Hollywood-style editing,” aka (with the coming of MTV-style editing) “Classic Hollywood editing.”
Hollywood’s studios mainly agreed that movies should be an escape from not a reflection of reality. Though some films were exceptions, exceptions ended in 1934 with enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code, nicknamed the Hayes Code, which banned morally unacceptable content. Although the Code did not mandate happy endings, it did prohibit any film villain from having one. Sexual contact was limited to kissing, violence was bloodless and sanitized, dialogue was devoid of vulgarities, etc.
Still, escapist storytelling was associated with Hollywood well before the Code. Hollywood films posed a sharp contrast to German cinema, which was part of the Expressionist art movement before, during and after the war. Expressionism portrayed states of mind—e.g., anxiety, madness, suspicion, betrayal—which German films depicted through dialogue, evocative stage sets, unorthodox camera angles, light and shadows, costumes and makeup. The movement reached its pinnacle in the 1920s with directors such as Fritz Lang and Robert Wiene. Another alternative to Hollywood, this one committed to reflecting the real world, was the filmmaking of Russians Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin and Dziga Vertov. These artists pioneered the montage, a wide range of editing techniques and shot compositions, to capture bravery, brutality, suffering and heroism of the Russian Revolution. Not surprisingly, Russian filmmakers disparaged Hollywood cinema as bourgeoisie fluff. By the same token, Eisenstein’s seven-minute montage in “Battleship Potemkin,” which depicted the slaughter of protesters by the Czar’s soldiers on the Odessa Steps, would have been DOA under the Hollywood Code. The irony is that techniques invented by the Germans and Russians would later be employed by Hollywood filmmakers such as Orson Wells, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Jacques Tourneur, to name a few.
The Dream Factory
Theater company meets the Ford Motor Company—such was production at The Big Five studios by the mid-1930s. Everyone and everything needed to shoot a motion picture was inside a studio’s walls save open terrain for non-urban action scenes—e.g., cowboys on horses, soldiers in combat, rural car chases—and landmarks for establishing shots—e.g., Eiffel Tower, New York skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge. Because sound technology was in its infancy, outdoor scenes with extensive dialogue were usually shot on sound stages.
Pre-production, and particularly the writing and rewriting of the script, enjoyed the most latitude in time. Unlike today, scripts included technical directions for character and camera blocking. Although several novelists—e.g. William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler—turned to screenwriting, scripted blocking was provided by collaborating studio screenwriters. Directors could modify the script, but their primary responsibility was to get the best performances possible from actors while remaining on schedule and within budget. The system enabled directors to be replaced only a hiccup to schedule or to direct in one year, as did Victor Fleming, such contrasting films as “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) and “Gone With the Wind” (1939). When the studio system ended, screenwriters like Billy Wilder and Joseph Mankiewicz transitioned easily into the director’s chair.
Everyone was under contract—producers, directors, actors, writers, cinematographers, art directors, technicians, etc. The stable of actors consisted of lead actors, supporting actors and central casting extras. All casting was type casting. Lead actors were groomed and promoted by a “star system” more concerned with camera presence than acting chops. “A star is made, created; carefully and cold-bloodedly built up from nothing,” said Louis B. Mayer. “All I ever looked for was a face. If someone looked good to me, I’d have him tested. If a person looked good on film, if he photographed well, we could do the rest.” Star making could include changing the actor’s name; coaching the actor in diction, posture, horseback riding, dancing, singing, fencing, and more; physical enhancement with makeup, hair styling and hair replacement; fitness training and that most Hollywood of fixes, cosmetic surgery.
Stars were expected to do nothing privately to undermine their believability playing idealized protagonists (yes, even Warner Brothers’ gangsters played by Jimmy Cagney and Edward G. Robinson were idealized). Studio PR execs kept an eye out for scandals and covered them up with the cooperation of law enforcement and local press. Nicknamed “Tinsel Town,” Los Angeles operated with the autonomy of a small company town even though its population surpassed 1 million by 1930. Even today, locals call it “town” and its motion picture industry “The Business.”
Studio self sufficiency made production design simpler for producers and art directors, who oversaw in-house artists, carpenters, costume designers and lighting technicians. Many things these employees created were ersatz, but they were ersatz to last. Sets, props and costumes were often used for multiple movies as were studio backlots which commonly included urban, Old West and residential street fronts. Of course, factory efficiency is pointless without consistent high demand for products. For the dream factories, demand came from extensive distribution chains that included Europe, which by the late 1930s accounted almost 40 percent of revenue. This statistic loomed large in Hollywood’s hesitancy to offend Nazi Germany.
Definition: A system by which Hollywood studios created and managed movie stars from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. The system emphasized idealistic personas over acting, which studios molded and publicized, and which actors were contractually obligated to promote and protect.
History: Before 1910, “star” was a music hall term meaning a highly paid performer. So set were the first filmmakers against creating their own stars that films did not credit their actors. But stardom was inevitable in a medium whose audience soon dwarfed that of the stage. More than any other art form save music, the motion picture appealed to audience emotions. Filmmakers like Cecil B. DeMille exploited this phenomenon with the close-up, filling the screen with what would become synonomous with Hollywood—drop-dead gorgeous faces. Mary Pickford (Little Mary), William King Baggot (King of the Movies) and Florence Lawrence (the Biograph Girl) were among the hotties no studio could keep anonymous for long.
In 1910, Independent Moving Picture Company not only credited but advertised “stars” Lawrence, Baggot and other studio actors, a stroke that generated publicity and with it astronomical ticket sales. A year later, Photoplay and Motion Picture Magazine were published and by 1916 the combined circulations of the two fan magazines approached a half million.
The star system was S.O.P. by the mid-1930s. All casting was type casting, and names of stars-to-be were often changed to fit type. With the exception of gangsters, leading actors played idealized characters largely based on history or romantic, adventure and Western novels. But even movies’ gangsters did not miss a shave or swear on screen. Guaranteeing on-screen wholesomeness was strict enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code, which did away with dodgy protagonists like those played by Warren William, later nicknamed the “King of Pre-Code.” Meanwhile, studio publicists built wholesome off-screen images of stars that no actor could live up to and covered up scandals when actors did not.
from the IMDB
Born January 2, 1886 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Died December 28, 1938 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA (suicide)
Birth Name Florence Annie Bridgwood
Nicknames “Queen of the Screen”
The ‘Biograph Girl’ and the ‘Imp Girl.’
Mini Bio (1)
Florence Lawrence was the first film player whose name was used to promote her films and the studio (Independent Moving Pictures Company [IMP]) for which she worked. Before her, actors and actresses worked anonymously, partly out of fear that stage managers would refuse to hire them if they were found to be working in films and partly because movie executives didn’t want to put much money into the production of these short, practically disposable films, and didn’t want their players to become well known and start demanding higher salaries. Lawrence was on the stage from age three, appearing in musicals and plays, whistling and playing the violin. At 20 she was cast in the Edison production of Daniel Boone (1907), and that led to work at Vitagraph Studios. From there she was hired by Biograph, where she refined and perfected her craft under the direction of D.W. Griffith. In 1909 she left Biograph to seek more recognizable employment at another film company. As a result she was blacklisted by the Motion Picture Trust, headed by Thomas A. Edison, to which most motion-picture producers belonged and which held the patents on most film production equipment and would not allow any companies that did not belong to the Trust to use them. Carl Laemmle started IMP in late 1909, and refused to join the Motion Picture Trust. The Trust took action–both legal and otherwise–to discourage Laemmle from producing films on his own. Lawrence and her husband, director Harry Solter, signed on as IMP’s first featured players. In 1910 Laemmle, partly out of anger over the Trust’s actions–such as hiring thugs to attack his film crews and wreck his equipment–decided to advertise the fact that he had Miss Lawrence. She made the first personal appearance of a film star in St. Louis, MO, that March, and the resulting publicity made her famous (and also increased the grosses on her–and Laemmle’s–films). Other film companies soon followed suit, and the names of film actors and actresses began to appear in all segments of the media. Lawrence worked for IMP for a year, then spent another year at Lubin before she began her own production company, Victor, where she worked on and off until 1914. After a stage accident in which she injured her back, she retired from films, only to be lured back in 1916 for her first feature, Elusive Isabel (1916). It was unsuccessful. She tried a comeback again in 1921; that, too, was unsuccessful. She settled into bit parts and character roles through the 1920s and 1930s. She committed suicide in 1938 after years of unhappiness and illness. She was found in her apartment on Dec. 27, 1938 and died soon afterward in hospital.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: email@example.com
Fired from Biograph when she was discovered to be negotiating with Carl Laemmle of Independent Motion Picture Company.
Committed suicide using ant paste.
Entered films with Vitagraph in 1907.
The birth date on her gravestone is 1890, but many sources say 1886.
Credited with inventing the first automobile turn and brake signals. The signals were operated by the driver pressing a button, and an arm on the back of the car indicating the turn direction or a stop. She did not patent the inventions, and they were superseded by more streamlined systems.
She is the subject of the novel “The Biograph Girl” (2000) by William J. Mann, who imagines Lawrence didn’t die in 1938 from ingesting ant poison and is still alive in the late 1990’s.
In the early 1900s, she was officially known as the “Biograph Girl” for the ‘American Mutoscope & Biograph [us]’.
When Florence Lawrence left Biograph for IMP, the former company knowingly reported that she had died. IMP’s head, Carl Laemmle countered on March 3, 1910 with the now famous headline “WE NAIL A LIE.” When the Patents Company found that a particular theatre was showing an IMP film, it lost its right to show any films produced by the monopolistic Trust.
Her mother, Charlotte “Lotta” Dunn Bridgwood, was an Irish-born vaudevillian who acted professionally under the name “Lotta Lawrence”, which was the source of Florence’s stage name. Lotta’s company, the Lawrence Dramatic Company, operated in the Hamilton, Ontario area. Florence made her stage debut with the company sometime around her fourth birthday. She was an accomplished whistler who had earned the nickname “Baby Flo, the Child Wonder Whistler” by the time she was six years old.
Fulfilled her lifelong dream of buying a large ranch in New Jersey where she gardened and had a collection of animals.
I hope you can make use of this material.
Awesome stuff - your insight will help greatly. The text you read was not the episode BTW - that was part of a different piece before we settled the format as it is. The Riefenstahl weightiness had to do with the rest of the episode and the Nazi angle it had. Thank you so much for the speedy contribution.
Here is some more information on Alfred Hugenberg I never heard of him before and now I see how important media was in the rise of the NAZI’s and how a media mogul made a deal with the “devil” as you may say. The important part is how a private media company helped in the rise of Nazism.
Citation: C N Trueman “Alfred Hugenberg”
historylearningsite.co.uk. The History Learning Site, 22 May 2015. 17 May 2018.
Alfred Hugenberg was a highly influential politician and businessman in Weimar Germany. Hugenberg was a well-known nationalist and despised the Treaty of Versailles. He financed and led the right wing nationalistic German National People’s Party and at the 1931 Harzburg Front Hugenberg unsuccessfully tried to bring Hitler into his fold – something the future Fűhrer refused to do.
Alfred Hugenberg was born in Hannover on June 16th 1865. He had a comfortable childhood and went on to study law and then economics at Gottingen, Heidelberg, Berlin and then Strasburg. He developed right wing nationalist beliefs and helped to found the General German League in 1891, which in 1894 developed into the Pan- German League. Anti-socialism and ultra-nationalistic, the Pan-German League gained a following among the middle and upper classes who warily eyed the rise of socialism among the German working class. Strikes, strike threats, wage demands, better working conditions etc. all seemed very un-German to members of the Pan-German League.
Hugenberg joined the Prussian Civil Service in 1903 but moved to the giant Krupp’s industrial concern in 1909 and left in 1918. His primary task was to keep the finances of Krupp’s in order – a task he excelled in. His position brought him into contact with Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach who was head of the industrial giant. Krupp shared a great many of Hugenberg’s belief and they formed a close relationship. After leaving Krupp’s in 1918, Hugenberg went into business by himself. During the era of hyperinflation, he bought up numerous newspapers very cheaply. He developed his media empire during the so-called ‘Golden Years’ of Weimar. By the next economic crisis of 1929, he was Weimar’s biggest media magnate and not only owned a great number of newspaper titles but also a cinema chain – Universal Film AG. Hugenberg used the numerous outlets that he had to attack the politicians of Weimar. He also involved himself in politics and in 1928 became chairman of the German National People’s Party. Hugenberg wanted to impose his extreme nationalistic views on the party. In 1931, he produced the party’s new manifesto. Hugenberg called for the immediate restoration of the monarchy, the tearing up of the Treaty of Versailles, much greater contact between Germany and Austria, compulsory military service, a new German Empire and a reduction in the perceived economic power the Jews had in Weimar’s economy.
Hugenberg’s most immediate target was Chancellor Heinrich Brűning who he believed was pushing Weimar inexorably towards socialism. Hugenberg was one of the most influential men at the 1931 Harzburg Front conference which met with the specific aim of trying to persuade the ageing President, Hindenburg, to sack Brűning. However, there were those in the party who believed that he had pushed it too far to the right and that it would end up alienating itself from the voters. A number of former members of the party had already left in late 1929 and formed the Conservative People’s Party. Others were also wary that Hugenberg wanted to pursue the vote of those involved in agriculture and that he had turned his back on industry despite his time with Krupp’s.
While a great deal of what Hugenberg preached had major similarities with the ideas of Adolf Hitler, they were not obvious political partners. First Hitler had no intention of sharing power with anyone and secondly the Nazi Party had a following not only among the middle class but also among the working class despite the existence of the Communist Party and a number of socialist parties. Hugenberg had never given any hint that he was after the support of the working class but he believed that he needed it if was to push for power. He made generous donations to the Nazi Party coffers and ensured that his media empire gave Hitler and the Nazi Party favourable press. Hitler had repeated what Hugenberg had previously stated at the Harzburg Front but he had already concluded that Hugenberg merely wanted to use the Nazi Party for his own intentions and he was not prepared to go along with it. Also one of Hitler closest confidantes, Joseph Goebbels, had developed a deep dislike of Hugenberg and it is almost certain that Goebbels used his easy access to Hitler to ensure that the future Fűhrer’s mind was necessarily poisoned. Matters were made worse when Hugenberg refused to support Hitler in the 1932 Presidential election. In fact, Hugenberg encouraged a rival to stand in opposition to Hitler and von Hindenburg – Theodore Duesterberg.
However, Hitler did not have it all his own way. In the 1932 election for the Reichstag, the German National People’s Party took seats away from the Nazis. It was at this point that both Hitler and Hugenberg attempted to build bridges between the two parties. They had a number of private meetings but they came to little after Hugenberg refused to support Hitler’s demand that should they form a government, Nazi officials should be at the head of the interior ministries of Prussia and Germany. This would have given the Nazi Party enormous power at a regional level in Germany and Hugenberg not only recognised this but also baulked at the idea.
Hugenberg’s belief that he could “box Hitler in” counted for nothing when Hitler was appointed Chancellor onJanuary 30th 1933. However, the German National People’s Party (DNVP) held 52 seats in the Reichstag – something Hitler could not ignore before the March 1933 Enabling Act. He made Hugenberg Minister of the Economy and Minister of Agriculture. The latter post was an attempt by Hitler to win over the landowners inNazi Germany. However, in reality once the Enabling Act was passed, Hitler had no time for Hugenberg – and he certainly had no need for him. Hugenberg became an increasingly isolated figure even upsetting the German population by increasing the price of butter to help Germany’s dairy farmers. Hugenberg sealed his own political fate when in June 1933 he attended the London World Economic Conference and announced that the best way Germany could fight the economic depression of the 1930’s was to develop a new colonial empire in Africa and expand into Eastern Europe. This caused outrage at the conference and Hitler, ironically, had to disown the comments. Hugenberg also spoke out against job creation schemes that were at the heart of the Nazi’s plan to reduce unemployment. A less than subtle message was given to Hugenberg when other leaders of the German National People’s Party were arrested by the SA. Hugenberg resigned from the Nazi cabinet on June 29th 1933. It was only after this that Hitler agreed to an accord whereby some members of the DNVP considered loyal to the Nazi Party were allowed to join it while the DNVP officially dissolved.
Hitler allowed Hugenberg to remain in the Reichstag as a “guest member” There were 22 of these “guest members” but 639 Nazi Deputies. Hitler then took over many of his media concerns, which came under the control of Goebbels. Hugenberg was left with some and he sold them to the Nazi government in 1943 for a good price.
At the end of World War Two, Hugenberg was arrested but in 1949 he was classed as a “fellow traveller”, which meant that he was not a Nazi and was allowed to keep his property and his business and share portfolio.
Alfred Hugenberg died on 12th March 1951
Now when it comes to mass media and radio in the U.S. (my grandfather was one of the earliest radio operators in NYC) it’s the story of RCA and NBC.
here is some historical info on the origins of NBC
The oldest broadcasting network in the United States, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) came into being on November 15, 1926, with a gala four-hour radio program originating from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. NBC was the joint effort of three pioneers in mass communications: Radio Corporation of America (RCA; now RCA Corporation), American Telephone and Telegraph (now AT&T Corporation), and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Two early radio stations in Newark, New Jersey, and New York City—WJZ, founded by Westinghouse in 1921, and WEAF, founded by the American Telephone & Telegraph Company in 1923—had earlier been acquired by RCA and, after NBC was created, became the centres of NBC’s two semi-independent networks, the Blue Network, based on WJZ, and the Red Network, based on WEAF, each with its respective links to stations in other cities.
The formation of NBC was orchestrated by David Sarnoff, the general manager of RCA, which became the network’s sole owner in 1930. Although he had envisioned NBC primarily as an informational service, the network gained its stronghold in the radio industry with such pure-entertainment efforts as Amos ’n’ Andy and The Jack Benny Program. In 1943, under pressure from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), NBC sold the less-lucrative Blue Network to Edward J. Noble, who eventually changed its name to the American Broadcasting Company, Inc. (ABC). (By 1938 the more prosperous Red Network was carrying 75 percent of NBC’s commercial programs.) In 1948 NBC suffered severely when it lost several of its leading performers—including Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll (Amos ’n’ Andy), Edgar Bergen, and Red Skelton—to the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS; now CBS Corporation) in a talent raid, thereby losing an edge in the upcoming television age.
here is a bio of David Sarnoff founder of NBC and General Manager of RCA
David Sarnoff, (born February 27, 1891, Uzlian [now Uzlyany], Minsk, Russia [now Belarus]—died December 12, 1971, New York, N.Y., U.S.), American pioneer in the development of both radio and television broadcasting.
As a boy in Russia, Sarnoff spent several years preparing for a career as a Jewish scholar of the Talmud. He immigrated with his family in 1900 and settled in New York City. While going to school, he helped support the family by selling newspapers, running errands, and singing the liturgy in a synagogue. In 1906 he left school to become a messenger boy for a telegraph company and with his first money bought a telegraph instrument. He soon became proficient in Morse operation and found work as a radio operator for the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America (also called American Marconi), where he became a protégé of radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi.
After service on shore and at sea over the next few years, Sarnoff became manager of the radio station established by John Wanamaker atop his Manhattan department store. In April 1912 the Wanamaker station received messages from the ships that were rescuing the survivors of the Titanic, and Sarnoff relayed the news to the press. (Later exaggeration by the press and Sarnoff himself claimed that he had picked up the distress signal from the sinking Titanic and then remained at his instrument for 72 hours straight.) Rewarded by the Marconi company with rapid promotion, he became chief inspector, and in 1915 or 1916 he wrote the famous “radio music box” memo, in which he proposed the development of a commercially marketed radio receiver for use in the home.
When America entered World War I in 1917, Sarnoff attempted to enlist in the navy and then the army, but he was turned away because of his prominent role at American Marconi, which was a key supplier of radio equipment to the navy. To keep American radio technology from being controlled by foreign-owned companies like American Marconi, that company was absorbed by a new company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), in 1919. Sarnoff was RCA’s commercial manager.
In 1920 Sarnoff reiterated his “radio music box” memo and was given a small amount of money to develop a radio prototype. As RCA’s new general manager, he demonstrated radio’s market potential by broadcasting the boxing match between Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier (July 2, 1921); the broadcast created a sensation. Within three years RCA sold more than $80 million worth of receiving sets. In 1926 RCA formed the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
As early as 1923, Sarnoff had perceived the potential of television, which the contributions of several inventors were making technically feasible. His meeting in 1929 with Westinghouse engineer Vladimir Zworykin convinced him that home television was possible, and Sarnoff persuaded Westinghouse to back Zworykin’s work. In 1930 Westinghouse’s television research and Zworykin were transferred to RCA. By 1939 Sarnoff was able to give a successful demonstration of the new medium at the New York World’s Fair.
Because RCA had built its business on its pool of patents, Sarnoff was jealous of any percieved infringement on the company’s primacy. RCA was embroiled in lengthy court battles over patents for television and FM radio. In the first, which began in 1932, RCA filed suit against inventor Philo Farnsworth to try to invalidate his patents on electronic television. The battle lasted seven years. RCA lost and had to pay royalties to Farnsworth (who by that time had had a nervous breakdown). In the second, which began in 1948, Edwin Armstrong, inventor of FM radio (and Sarnoff’s onetime friend), sued RCA for infringing on his patents. RCA managed to delay court proceedings until Armstrong’s fortune was exhausted. Armstrong committed suicide in 1954.
Sarnoff became president of RCA in 1930. During World War II, Sarnoff, a reserve officer, served on General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s staff as a communications consultant and was promoted to brigadier general. After the war, RCA became a leader in the television market, but it almost experienced a setback in the new field of colour television. In 1950 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the colour television standard developed by the Columbia Broadcasting System. However, existing black-and-white sets including those of RCA would not be able to receive colour programs. Sarnoff had committed RCA to developing a set that would be compatible with both black-and-white and colour images, but the RCA system was still not ready. Sarnoff initiated a crash program to develop the compatible system, and in 1953 RCA’s system was adopted as the standard for colour television by the FCC. Sarnoff became chairman of the board in 1949 and retired in 1970.
their competition was CBS
The history of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) began in 1927 when talent agent Arthur Judson, unable to obtain work for any of his clients on the radio programs carried by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), established his own network, United Independent Broadcasters. Judson’s network subsequently merged with the Columbia Phonograph and Records Co. and changed its name to the Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting Company. Plagued with mounting financial losses, the network was purchased for a modest $400,000 by William S. Paley, whose father owned the company that made La Palina cigars, one of the network’s principal advertisers. On January 18, 1929, the newly christened Columbia Broadcasting System signed on the air.
Under the direction of the enterprising Paley as the network’s longtime chairman, CBS made media history beginning in the late 1920s. Realizing that the key to radio success was large audiences that would attract advertisers, Paley offered programming free to affiliated stations in return for having a certain part of their schedules devoted to sponsored network shows. From 22 stations in 1928, the network grew to 114 stations in a decade. By 1932 it was posting an annual profit of $3 million. Although the most popular radio stars and programs of the 1930s and ’40s were heard over the rival National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network, CBS nonetheless maintained a huge audience, thanks largely to the dynamic leadership of Paley’s second in command, Frank Stanton, who served as president of CBS from 1946 to 1971. The network also built up a strong and influential news division under the guidance of Edward R. Murrow and his successors. And while it lagged behind the RCA Corporation-owned NBC technologically, CBS took a major step forward in the late 1940s with the development of long-playing records by its Columbia Records division. In 1938 CBS acquired the American Recording Corporation, which later became Columbia Records. Peter Goldmark of CBS laboratories invented high-fidelity long-playing records, and the Columbia record label introduced them to the public in 1948.
and a bio of William S. Paley of CBS
William S. Paley, (born September 28, 1901, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.—died October 26, 1990, New York, New York), American broadcaster who served as the Columbia Broadcasting System’s president (1928–46), chairman of the board (1946–83), founder chairman (1983–86), acting chairman (1986–87), and chairman (1987–90). For more than half a century he personified the power and influence of CBS.
Paley was the son of immigrant Ukrainian Jews who conducted a thriving cigar business in Chicago. (At age 12 he added a middle initial, S., to his name.) The family moved to Philadelphia when Paley was ready for college, and he attended the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S., 1922).
After entering the family’s new cigar business, he became vice president and eventually signed an early radio advertising contract for the firm’s products. The commercials boosted business, making Paley aware of the power of radio as an advertising medium, and in 1927 he invested in a relative’s small radio network, the Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System. Paley became president of Columbia on September 26, 1928, moved to New York City, and quickly signed up 49 radio stations. (CBS dropped the word Phonographic from its name in 1929.) In subsequent decades, Paley built CBS into one of the world’s leading radio and television networks, hiring such entertainment stars as Bing Crosby, Kate Smith, George Burns and Gracie Allen, the Mills Brothers, Will Rogers, Eddie Cantor, Bob Hope, and Jack Benny, having lured some of them from rival networks.
During World War II Paley served the U.S. government as supervisor of the Office of War Information (OWI) in the Mediterranean theatre, and later as chief of radio in the OWI’s Psychological Warfare Division (1944–45), of which he finally became deputy chief.
During and after the war, Paley supported and encouraged Edward R. Murrow in building an outstanding news staff for CBS. In the postwar era, Paley built CBS studios on both East and West coasts and produced several successful television game shows, comedies, and westerns, including I Love Lucy, Gunsmoke, and Arthur Godfrey’s and Ed Sullivan’s variety shows. Paley exercised firm control over major programming and in 1966 waived the CBS mandatory retirement rule so that he could remain active as chairman of the board. He remained chairman until 1983 and, after some CBS infighting, returned in 1987.
Paley and his second wife, Barbara (“Babe”) Paley (née Cushing), whom he married in 1947, became a centre of New York society, giving lavish parties and holding important philanthropic positions. Paley was a longtime president and trustee of the Museum of Modern Art and also built a large art collection of his own, which ranged from Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso to Jackson Pollock.
I find this era really interesting it produced a brand new medium of radio broadcast and film though around before WW1 would really explode in this period. I mostly concentrate on U.S. and Germany and the stories of the people who owned this new media, In Germany media came under the control of a political party chairman who later used media power to help bring about the rise of Nazism and in the U.S. where owners of the media were not the politicians or the government. Also in the U.S. print media was basically in the hands of the old established class but the new forms of media where wide open to immigrants especially in the new media city of Los Angeles.
Some more info on the start of broadcast media
When radio broadcasting started each nation had to decide how they were going to regulate and control it.
The quarter century to about 1950 was also radio’s Golden Age in most industrial countries, where, despite wartime setbacks, radio flowered before the advent of television. Commercial broadcast programming from the United States influenced broadcasting around the world; some countries emulated it, and others abhorred it. In either case, most countries were slow to define their radio policy, and the pattern of industry development was initially not clear. Several European countries decided early on that radio’s educational and political potential required that it become a monopoly service provided by government, growing out of their experience with existing state telegraph and telephone services. Rather than entertainment, such public-service systems would focus on cultural broadcasts, education, public affairs, and the like. In such countries, government policy was often established before any stations were allowed on the air. This paternalistic approach—to program what audiences “needed” rather than what they might actually desire—strongly characterized radio in Europe (and later most of its colonies, even after they became independent) until late in the 20th century.
Other countries decided to construct a hybrid radio service—one that would combine the best of government-supported public-service and commercial entertainment programming. While the government would license all stations, only some would be operated by the government, or by autonomous government-supported authorities, while others would be privately owned and advertiser-supported.
As the world moved toward war in the 1930s, radio broadcasting became an element of national war efforts, used both for domestic morale building and especially for international propaganda. The Axis powers adopted radio first and applied it most effectively. Both the Axis and the Allied powers quickly developed effective monitoring points to listen to and transcribe enemy broadcasts as a means of gathering intelligence.
One of the world’s first scheduled radio broadcast services (known as PCGG) began in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on November 6, 1919. Other early Dutch stations were operated by the Amsterdam Stock Exchange (to send information to new members) and by a news agency that was seeking a new way to serve newspaper subscribers. Another early station appeared in Canada when station XWA (now CFCF) in Montreal began transmitting experimentally in September 1919 and on a regular schedule the next year. (The first commercially sponsored stations in Canada appeared in 1922.) The first British station offered two daily half-hour programs of talk and music from Chelmsford (near London) in 1919–20. Concerns about interference with military wireless transmissions, however, led to a shutdown until 1922, when government-authorized stations appeared, including the first London-based outlet. The first Mexican radio station aired in the capital city in 1921, though many in the country had first heard broadcasts from Cuba or Puerto Rico. By that point, stations had also appeared in Australia (Melbourne, in 1921), New Zealand (from Otago University in Dunedin, also in 1921), and Denmark (from Copenhagen, 1923).
Most other industrial nations began radio broadcasts by the mid-1920s. France (in Paris) and the Soviet Union (in Moscow) aired broadcasts in 1922. The first continuing Chinese radio station appeared in Shanghai early in 1923, when stations also appeared in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Spain. The pace quickened when Italy explored radio in 1924, followed by Japan, Mexico, Norway, and Poland in 1925. All these countries varied in how they authorized and organized radio services, with governments usually playing a far more central role than was the case in the United States.
Here is how major European nations dealt with it
When the first regular radio broadcasting began in London in 1922, the station was privately owned (by receiver manufacturers). It was supported by a tax on new receivers as well as by a continuing annual fee for receiver owners. The British Broadcasting Company, owned by radio manufacturers, offered programs to encourage the sale of receivers. In 1926 a British Parliamentary committee, dissatisfied with local stations and appalled at the advertiser-supported, entertainment-based radio appearing in the United States, recommended replacing Britain’s existing private broadcaster with something quite different. The result was the formation of the public British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in 1927, operating under a royal charter with an independent Board of Governors and a founding director general, John Reith, later Lord Reith of Stonehaven. Reith programmed BBC radio with the purpose of improving society. Under his staunchly paternal guidance (until 1938), the BBC soon developed the world’s most emulated model of public-service radio broadcasting.
Selling no advertising and thus needing few popular entertainment programs, the BBC was supported by a tax on receivers. The BBC was to be a neutral voice, above day-to-day political or social dissension. Programming on the BBC, which initially ended in the late evening, expanded slowly into the early morning hours in the late 1920s and early ’30s. Most programs were public affairs or cultural in nature, and the network received many complaints that their programs lectured rather than entertained. Regional BBC transmitters provided alternative fare on a more limited schedule, based on local resources. By the fall of 1934, for example, 14 percent of all program hours were given over to classical music (with an additional 16 percent to “light” music and 13 percent to dance music), only 3 percent to drama, 8 percent to children, 21 percent to “spoken word” programs of all types, 6 percent each to religious and educational broadcasts, and 6 percent to light entertainment. The BBC developed its own orchestras that soon performed in the handsome and standard-setting Broadcasting House headquarters, opened in 1932. Added transmitters provided service to most of Britain.
The BBC’s Empire Service (in English and directed primarily to British citizens living in colonies in Africa and Asia) began regular service in 1932. Only two years later did the Empire Service begin to offer its own specially tailored news and other programs, separate from the domestic BBC service. The first BBC foreign-language broadcasts, in Arabic, began in 1938 as tensions in the Middle East increased. The BBC’s international service moved into the war mode in September 1939. Various ministries took charge of different aspects of British propaganda, and while the BBC retained its independence, it was required to carry government messages and some false news stories designed to mislead the enemy. The day the war began (September 1, 1939), the BBC merged its national and regional domestic services into a single Home Service in order to limit the ability of German aircraft homing on different radio signals to direct their bombing runs.
Radio developed in other European countries on somewhat parallel lines—usually government-operated or government-supported public-service operations with a limited number of stations and an even more limited choice of programs. Again, the emphasis was on high-quality culture, education, and music, often with a strongly nationalistic tone. Most European countries operated a relative handful of stations because the countries were small and did not need many outlets to cover their limited area, because advertising revenues that might have supported more stations were banned, and because fewer frequencies were allocated for broadcasting than was the case in the United States.
By 1934 Radio Luxembourg was using 200,000-watt transmitters to send popular commercial radio programs from the tiny duchy across Europe. As no other European country then offered advertising-supported entertainment and popular music, Radio Luxembourg soon attracted about half of the total radio listeners across the Continent (and many in Britain) with its programs of otherwise unobtainable music and popular drama.
During the 1920s early German radio was operated by a variety of private owners and supported by both license fees and advertising revenues. Slowly centralized in the early 1930s, radio fell under Nazi control in 1933, causing the somewhat varied programming of independent German stations to quickly give way to a more national service by the mid-1930s. Considerable time was given to commentary and speeches by Adolf Hitler and other leaders, although stations also broadcast shows devoted to regional culture and traditions, as well as several music programs that tended to feature German composers. For the next dozen years (1933–45), German radio operated as an arm of the Nazi state and was a key means of disseminating wartime propaganda. Cheap receivers that could tune only the frequencies of approved German stations were made widely available, and receiver license fees were kept low to encourage set ownership and use. Listening to foreign radio stations became illegal with the beginning of the war in 1939.
Under the direction of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Germany took radio as a propaganda device to new extremes, demonstrating how it could be applied to rally a people at war while instilling fear in the enemy. Modern short-wave transmitters operated from Zeesen, near Berlin. As Germany occupied more of Europe in 1940–42, additional stations came under German control. For example, when German forces occupied Luxembourg in 1940, the popular commercial short-wave station there became part of Nazi propaganda (ironically serving the long-held desire of the BBC to close down its competition for British listeners).
As one part of the German approach, a new kind of traitor was featured over the air: “Lord Haw-haw” broadcast German propaganda to the British for the entire war. He turned out to be an American-born holder of a British passport by the name of William Joyce, whom the British executed for treason in 1946. Mildred Gillars was an American who became known as “Axis Sally” when she also broadcast for the Germans, primarily to American troops. She and other such broadcasters served postwar prison terms.
Radio Paris was providing a daily newscast by 1924. Private, advertiser-supported stations were also expanding across the country at about this time; there were soon a dozen of them. (The French began external broadcasting in 1931, primarily to expatriates in their extensive colonies in Africa and Southeast Asia.) Only in 1933 did French listeners begin to pay an annual license fee to listen to radio, the funds going only to government stations. Political parties played an important role in French radio, with listenership divided about equally between government and private stations. Although the private stations (some affiliated with major newspapers) carried advertising, they had to submit to considerable government control regarding programming decisions. Gradually, news on French stations grew more slanted to match the views of a particular political party; as a result, the government established in 1936 an objective national network newscast originating from Paris that all stations had to carry. Regional variance in music and cultural programs continued until the war and the period of German occupation (1940–44), at which point competition between public and private stations came to an end when the private stations were taken over by the central government. The liberated France of 1945 formally rescinded private licenses, and French radio began a long period of government-monopoly operation.
Soviet radio to the late 1920s was largely locally controlled, since there was no national network. Dozens of stations were operating by late in the decade, though few served rural areas or the Asian portion of the vast federation. Stations carried news provided by the government as well as a considerable number of music and cultural programs; there was virtually no light entertainment. Regular international radio transmissions from Russia began over Radio Moscow in 1929 with broadcasts in English, French, and German—some of the first multilingual broadcasts by any country. By the early 1930s the Soviet government was exerting tighter control over station operations and content (increasingly the Moscow station acted as the centre of an informal network) but also, perhaps ironically, providing more entertainment.
To make radio listening easier, the Soviet Union developed a system of wired radio—connecting inexpensive receivers to local stations by wire—that grew slowly throughout the 1930s and became more widespread than over-the-air radio. In 1928 there were only about 20 over-the-air stations, a number that grew to about 90 outlets and an estimated 760,000 over-the-air receivers by 1941. In contrast, at this time there were about 11,000 wired channels—or “radio exchanges”—providing services to more than five million receivers.
During World War II radio took on a strongly patriotic tone, continuing with music (about a third of the total) and news as well as government propaganda messages. Additional services were added after the war, providing some semblance of program choice, and listeners could also tune in programs from other countries as the number of regular multichannel radios increased in number.
Also talking about Leni Riefenstahl and the film Olympia the 1932 olympics were held in Los Angeles which shows the meteoric rise of the city(mostly thanks to media and Hollywood)
Another interesting factoid a future U.S. president is going to get his start in Hollywood during the interwar years.
The top 3 grossing films of 1922
title : Robin Hood
producer : Douglass Fairbanks
Starring : Douglas Fairbanks
Production Company: Fairbanks Studio
Distributor: United Artist (a collaboration of Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffin and Charlie Chaplin )
Title: Oliver Twist
producer : Sol Lesser
Starring : Lon Chaney, Jackie Coogan (same Jackie Coogan who played Uncle Fester in the Addams Family)
Production Company: Jackie Coogan Productions (interesting link http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,848925,00.html )
Distributor: First National Pictures.
Title: Blood and Sand
producer Jesse L. Lasky
Starring: Rudolph Valentino
Production Company : Paramount Pictures
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Interesting is that the heads of Hollywood studios where mostly Jews who had immigrated from Eastern Europe. Being shut out of many oppurtunities of the established social classes, many found work in the new film industry at that time located in NYC. Edison had pattons on all parts of movie production and had a team of lawyers to go after film makers who bucked the system.
To get away from Edisons attorneys they headed west to Los Angeles and in essence created Hollywood. The studio head ran all parts of production and had the last word on all aspects. The stars were carfully chosen and promoted by the studio head. The writters, directors, producers and stars all worked for the studio, they even controlled the theatres in which their films where shown.
The interesting part of it is that Hollywood created the “American Dream” it was the hopes, aspirations, and morals of Eastern European Jewish immigrants to America.
1926 01 The age of Mass Media and the Superstar
I can help with episode 1922 02 The age of Mass Media and the Superstar (finally get to talk about my hometown) That during the WW1 most motion picture production left New York and came to Los Angeles. During the 20’s you see the rise of the studio system and the movie moguls. After WW1 many Eruopean film makers also made their way to Los Angeles. This was a time of real growth of the city which would become world famous. If you need more info I can help.
In 1926 the big media news was the death of Rudolph Valentino on August 23 from complication to apendicitis, the next day over 100 people are injured while 60000 mourners tried to get a glimpse of the body.
Rudolph Valentino’s career was beset with disputes with various studios in particular MGM and Paramount Pictures.
While traveling to Palm Springs, Florida, to film Stolen Moments, Valentino read the novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. Seeking out a trade paper, he discovered that Metro had bought the film rights to the story. In New York, he sought out Metro’s office, only to find June Mathis had been trying to find him. She cast him in the role of Julio Desnoyers. For the director, Mathis had chosen Rex Ingram, with whom Valentino did not get along, leading Mathis to play the role of peacekeeper between the two.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was released in 1921 and became a commercial and critical success. It was one of the first films to make $1,000,000 at the box office, and remains to this day the sixth-highest grossing silent film ever.
Metro Pictures seemed unwilling to acknowledge that it had made a star. Most likely due to Rex Ingram’s lack of faith in him, the studio refused to give him a raise beyond the $350 a week he had made for Four Horsemen. For his follow-up film, they forced him into a bit part in a B-film called Uncharted Seas. On this film, Valentino met his second wife, Natacha Rambova.
Rambova, Mathis, Ivano, and Valentino began work on the Alla Nazimova film Camille. Valentino was cast in the role of Armand, Nazimova’s love interest. The film, mostly under the control of Rambova and Nazimova, was considered too avant garde by critics and the public.
Valentino’s final film for Metro was the Mathis-penned The Conquering Power. The film received critical acclaim and did well at the box office. After the film’s release, Valentino made a trip to New York, where he met with several French producers. Yearning for Europe, better pay, and more respect, Valentino returned and promptly quit Metro.
The Sheik was probably his most famous film. After quitting Metro, Valentino took up with Famous Players-Lasky, forerunner of the present-day Paramount Pictures, a studio known for films that were more commercially focused. Mathis soon joined him, angering both Ivano and Rambova.
Jesse L. Lasky intended to capitalize on the star power of Valentino, and cast him in a role that solidified his reputation as the “Latin lover”. In The Sheik (1921), Valentino played the starring role of Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan. The film was a major success and defined not only his career but his image and legacy. Valentino tried to distance the character from a stereotypical portrayal of an Arab man. Asked if Lady Diana (his love interest) would have fallen for a “savage” in real life, Valentino replied, “People are not savages because they have dark skins. The Arabian civilization is one of the oldest in the world…the Arabs are dignified and keen-brained.”
Famous Players produced four more feature-length films over the next 15 months. His leading role in Moran of the Lady Letty was of a typical Douglas Fairbanks nature; however, to capitalize on Valentino’s bankability, his character was given a Spanish name and ancestry. The film received mixed reviews, but was still a hit with audiences.
In November 1921, Valentino starred alongside Gloria Swanson in Beyond the Rocks. The film contained lavish sets and extravagant costumes, though Photoplay magazine said the film was “a little unreal and hectic.” Released in 1922, the film was a critical disappointment. Years after its release,
He finally went independent and signed with the United Artist (Fairbanks, Pickford, and Chaplin)
United Artist was a colabaration of Hollywood stars who wanted to work outside the established studio system to have more artistic constrol of the their work.
During the filming of Monsieur Beaucaire, both Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks approached Valentino privately, due to his contract with Ritz-Carlton, about joining with United Artists. Valentino’s contract with United Artists provided $10,000 a week for only three pictures a year, plus a percentage of his films. The contract excluded Rambova from production of his films and the film set. Valentino’s acceptance of the terms caused a major rift in his marriage to Rambova. George Ullman, who had negotiated the contract with United Artists, offered Rambova $30,000 to finance a film of her own. It became her only film, titled What Price Beauty? and starred Myrna Loy.
Valentino chose his first UA project, The Eagle. With the marriage under strain, Valentino began shooting and Rambova announced that she needed a “marital vacation”. During the filming of The Eagle, rumors of an affair with co-star Vilma Bánky were reported and ultimately denied by both Bánky and Valentino. The film opened to positive reviews, but a moderate box office.
For the film’s release, Valentino travelled to London, staying there and in France, spending money with abandon while his divorce took place. Quite some time elapsed before he made another film, The Son of the Sheik, despite his hatred of the sheik image. The film began shooting in February 1926, with Valentino given his choice of director, and pairing him again with Vilma Bánky. The film used the authentic costumes he bought abroad and allowed him to play a dual role. Valentino was ill during production, but he needed the money to pay his many debts. The film opened on July 9, 1926, to great fanfare. During the premiere, Valentino was reconciled with Mathis; the two had not spoken in almost two years.
I thought for 1926 the lead in with the death of Rudolph Valentino would be good for he was one of the biggest superstars of the silent film era. He is still a common household name after 92 years.
that was exactly why we chose this year in the first place! Great minds think alike.
Now here is something I think deserves a mention: 1926 is one year after the release of The Lost World (1925), famous for its revolutionary stop-motion dinosaur effects. It can be argued that it paved the way for the special effects driven summer blockbusters. The SFX were designed by Willis O’Brien who was the father of stop-motion: the art of filming various figures 1 frame at a time while slightly adjusting them for every single one of those frames.
Now the Lost World wasn’t the first movie stop-motion, or even stop-motion dinosaurs (O’Brien had made several short films earlier), but this was the breakout movie for this type of effects. After this movie O’Brien would continue to perfect his craft, reaching his peak with the 1933 classic King Kong. Stop-motion will continue to be the preferred way of doing SFX with dinosaurs, robots and various fantastical creatures way beyond the 1920s and 1930s, going all the way into the 1990s when it was finally replaced by computer generated effects. Yet, stop-motion continues to be used to this day as it can be considered an art form in itself.
It should be noted that, considering this was made in the early 1920s (the movie had been worked on since 1920 actually) the portrayal of the dinosaurs is actually pretty accurate, in comparison to how they largely portrayed back then.
Best part is that the whole movie is available online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJaXxY3citM