The method of creating and promoting film stars in Hollywood movies is known as the star system. Different studios would select talented actors and create roles for them, often inventing new names and even new backgrounds. Stars that went through this star system in Hollywood movies are Cary Grant, Joan Crawford and Rock Hudson. In this system the emphasis is on the image rather than on acting. Although acting, voice, and dancing lessons are apart of the common element of the regimen.
They had rules and restrictions that these new budding actors had to follow. Some of them being, they were not allowed to leave the house without putting any makeup and wearing stylish clothes especially when it comes to female actors. Whereas, the male actors they were expected to be seen in public as gentlemen. The star system of Hollywood movies had morality clauses, which was a common part of the actor’s studio contracts.
Just as the executives, public relations staffs, and the agents worked together with the actor to create a star character, so also they would work together to cover up the incidents or lifestyles which were thought of as disrespectful and which might damage or spoil the image of the actor in the eye of the public.
As a part of this system, performers were not identified in films due to two main reasons. One is that the stage performers were embarrassed to be in films. As initially they were featured in silent film and it was considered pantomime, which is the art of conveying emotions, actions, feelings, etc by gestures without speech. As one of the main skills of actors was their voice, they were afraid that appearing in films would ruin their reputation.
The other reason for the performers not being identified in films was because producers feared that actors would gain more prestige and power and the stars might thus demand more money. There were many incidents that have cause the star system of Hollywood movies to come into existence. Some of the main reasons can be traced from the following incidents.
Thomas Edison and the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) forced the filmmakers to use their equipments and follow their rules, since they owned most of the patents of the motion picture equipments. It was known that the MPPC did promote some actors during that time.
There was gradually a change in the star system of Hollywood movies, and the main reason for this was that the public wanted to know the real name of the actors. Film audiences constantly recognized a number of performers in movies that they liked. As the names of these stars were not disclosed the audience would give them nicknames. Such as the Biograph Girl, Florence Lawrence and many more.
The MPPC was gaining control over the movie industry until Carl Laemmle promoted the first film star. He was independent of the MPPC and used star promotion to fight MPPC control over the film industry. He got hold of Lawrence from Biograph and spread a rumor that she was killed at a car accident but then later combated this rumor and said she was doing fine and would be starring in the up-coming film produced by him.
Another reason that led to the beginning of the star system in Hollywood movies was the development of the film magazines that gave fans knowledge about the actors. Which includes the lifestyles of the actors outside their film roles. Some of the popular magazines of the time were the Motion Picture Story Magazine and Photoplay. They focused on movies stories but later they began to focus more on the actors catering to reader’s tastes.
The standards set by the legitimate theatre encouraged films to follow the star system of the stage. These are some of the main reason of how star system in Hollywood movies came into being.