The “Golden Age” of American film that began in the pre-World War II years has never truly ended, moving from its early connection with “film noir” to the epics of the 1960s and beyond. Similarly, movie stars still enjoy a degree of exoticism they have possessed since the days of silent film. However, in the modern day, the screen actor is not so narrowly constrained by public image as to prevent the leading of a double life, once impermissible for powerful studio heads. A sideline of political and social activism is not uncommon, and even academic pursuits are now mere points of interest, where they were once forbidden. Put simply, for much of Hollywood’s early history, brains and beauty were considered mutually exclusive.
During the first half of the 20th century, American crowds developed a fascination with foreign actors whose native accents lent an enhanced air of mystery to their on-screen personae. Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, and Marlene Dietrich, all European-born, ruled at the box office. Amid their prolific careers stood the curious case of Hedy Lamarr, acclaimed as the most beautiful star of her time, and living with a professional pastime that looms large in the modern day as new information technology emerges.
The “Big Five” movie studios all have roots in these years, including Universal Studios, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Columbia, and even Disney. In the early days, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was created in a merger between Metro, belonging to Marcus Loew, one owned by Louis B. Mayer, and a third enterprise resulting in the still-famous logo of the MGM lion. In the United States and overseas, agents and studio heads were on the lookout for talent, and Western agents flooded Europe searching for the next foreign heartthrob.
Hedy Lamarr: The Life and Legacy of the Influential Actress and Inventor by Charles River Editors
English | 2021 | History | 1.1 MB