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New Constellations: Movie Stars of the 1960s

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    New Constellations
    Book Description:

    American culture changed radically over the course of the 1960s, and the culture of Hollywood was no exception. The film industry began the decade confidently churning out epic spectacles and lavish musicals, but became flummoxed as new aesthetics and modes of production emerged, and low-budget youth pictures likeEasy Riderbecame commercial hits.New Constellations: Movie Stars of the 1960stells the story of the final glory days of the studio system and changing conceptions of stardom, considering such Hollywood icons as Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman alongside such hallmarks of youth culture as Mia Farrow and Dustin Hoffman. Others, like Sidney Poitier and Peter Sellers, took advantage of the developing independent and international film markets to craft truly groundbreaking screen personae. And some were simply "famous for being famous," with celebrities like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Edie Sedgwick paving the way for today's reality stars.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5229-3
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: Stardom in the 1960s
    (pp. 1-13)

    Conventional (and often nostalgic) views of the American sixties tend to portray the decade as one of unique change, a decade in which ideologies, morality, culture, and politics were all upended and radically transformed. In line with this view, the decade is sometimes characterized through a series of displacements in which the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit is replaced by the hippie, the housewife superseded by the feminist, the martini supplanted by LSD and marijuana, Sinatra unseated by the Beatles, Dylan, and the Doors, and so on. The sense of the sixties as uniquely unsettling has a time-capsule familiarity...

  5. 1 Paul Newman: Superstardom and Anti-Stardom
    (pp. 14-33)

    In a 1970Los Angeles Timesarticle entitled “How to Be a Cool Hand Imitating Paul Newman,” Joseph P. Devlin dispensed advice on “how to be: (a) cool, (b) a red-blooded-American boy, (c) win friends, and (d) influence women by imitating Paul Newman.” Devlin advised that to be as admirable as Newman, one should draw from his example the following characteristics: “break away from the yoke of the Establishment . . . unshackle yourself from all contemporary banalities—and be FREE . . . buy your wardrobe at Goodwill Industries . . . Most importantly be effortless. Don’t work at...

  6. 2 Elizabeth Taylor: The Biggest Star in the World
    (pp. 34-54)

    During the 1960s Elizabeth Taylor was one of the top box office attractions in the world, became the highest-paid female star, and won two Oscars. She was also involved in two major scandals with married men and began to garner bad press (and negative public opinion) for being “out of control” in various ways: sexual voracity, weight gains, constant illnesses, drug and alcohol use, and lavish spending. Until nearly the end of the 1960s, she was able to counterbalance “bad Liz” with “good Liz,” by and large, by making certain she was in good trim for her films, using some...

  7. 3 Dustin Hoffman: As Artistic as Possible
    (pp. 55-70)

    For its first forty-six years,Time,America’s newsweekly of record, invariably presented cover illustrations of important people or events. The very firstTimecover photograph, dated 7 February 1969, featured not a world leader, astronaut, or international conflict, but Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow: “The Young Actors: Stars and Anti-Stars.” The article talked about how their recent movies have spun “a new myth of lost innocence, of the individual against the wicked system.” And the magazine aligned the meaning of the actors with the meanings of the films:

    The new young actors themselves represent the death of many movie myths...

  8. 4 Steve McQueen: Cool, Combative, and Disconnected
    (pp. 71-90)

    Steve McQueen was cool. Few star images crystallize around just one word, but his certainly does. What’s more, he was “the King of Cool.” The first entry for the phrase in the onlineUrban Dictionaryreads: “Nickname for actor Steve McQueen. No one has ever owned the screen like Steve McQueen. He was the King of Cool” (www. This soubriquet forms the title of two books about McQueen:Steve McQueen, King of Cool: Tales of a Lurid Lifeby Darwin Porter andSteve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Coolby Marshall Terrill, as well as a 1998...

  9. 5 Mia Farrow: Categorically Intangible
    (pp. 91-114)

    Amid the intoxication of metamorphosis, the magnetizing struggles of cultural transformation that constituted the 1960s, Mia Farrow emerged as an icon of mutability, a resonant emblem of the intangible. Transliterated into the mass-circulated domains of celebrity profiles, gossip columns, interviews, fashion shoots, and reviews, her image was, in large part, that of a figure of free-spirited changeability, a captivating cipher. Farrow’s attraction activated in Hollywood discourse the infatuation with permutation and indeterminancy as well as a converse urge toward circumscription, engaging the fascination and problematics of definition. In essence, Farrow’s celebrity conjugated the epistemology of stardom with the dynamism of...

  10. 6 Peter Sellers: A Figure of the Impasse
    (pp. 115-138)

    Peter Sellers (1925–1980) worked as a performer his entire life. As a child he appeared in variety show bits produced by the touring company his grandmother had established in England before World War I. As a teenager, he played with dance bands, sometimes touring with his father, and he worked backstage and onstage at music halls. When he was conscripted in World War II, Sellers was assigned to the “Gang Show” unit as a musician and a comedian whose expertise was impersonating officers. After the war, Sellers, Spike Mulligan, and Harry Secombe tapped into absurd and gag-centered British vaudeville...

  11. 7 Julie Andrews: Practically Too Perfect in Every Way
    (pp. 139-159)

    As a phenomenon of movies and culture, Julie Andrews’s career in the 1960s has gone mostly unexamined. She was a rarity to start with: a postwar Broadway musical comedy star without the stagy eccentricities that kept divas such as Mary Martin, Gwen Verdon, Ethel Merman, and Carol Channing from ever becoming film stars. Overcoming what Peter Bart at the time called “the long-standing dicta that Andrews was neither photogenic nor sexy enough to be a movie star,” she finally won over the film industry in 1963–64 (“The Hollywoodization of Julie Andrews,”New York Times,6 September 1964). Andrews was...

  12. 8 Sidney Poitier: It Is No Great Joy to Be a Symbol
    (pp. 160-182)

    By the end of the 1960s, Sidney Poitier—the second African American to be nominated for a major acting Academy Award (1959); the first African American to win a Best Actor Oscar (1964); the first African American to be ranked the top U.S. box office draw (1967); in short, the first black movie star—had become an icon. But he was an icon given deeply divergent meaning, depending on the perspective of the beholder. In one view, he was an icon of American individual possibility and the possibility of a more equal and just, integrated United States. In another view,...

  13. 9 Brigitte Bardot: From International Star to Fashion Icon
    (pp. 183-201)

    Beginning in the mid-1950s, Brigitte Bardot exerted an enormous impact on film, fashion, and celebrity culture, introducing a youthful, sexy image of French femininity to both domestic and inter national audiences. Among film historians, she is primarily remembered today for two films,Et Dieu . . . créa la femme[And God Created Woman] (1956), in which her persona of the insolent “sex kitten” first emerged, and Jean-Luc Godard’sLe Mépris[Contempt] (1963), which offers, among other things, a complex and self-conscious treatment of Bardot’s appearance and star persona. In between and beyond these two highlights of her career, Bardot...

  14. 10 Edie Sedgwick: Girl of the Year
    (pp. 202-223)

    At the time of Nora Ephron’s September 1965 profile, Edie Sedgwick was known toNew York Postreaders primarily as the party-hopping, outlandishly clothed, oft-photographed companion of Pop artist and experimental moviemaker Andy Warhol. When their paths crossed for the first time Warhol was already arguably the most infamous avant-gardist in American film history, having outraged middlebrow sensibilities with his soundless, intolerably protracted studies of mundane events and objects—the two most notorious offenders being the six-hourSleep(1963) and the eight-hourEmpire(1964), a fixed-camera, dusk-’til-dawn contemplation of the Empire State Building. AfterEmpireWarhol more fully committed to...

  15. 11 Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor: Hungary Meets Hillbilly U.S.A.
    (pp. 224-249)

    When Eva Gabor died at seventy-four, theNew York Timeseulogized her as being “best known for her role as an out-of-place city socialite stuck on a farm on television’s ‘Green Acres’ in the 1960s,” but opined that she “probably achieved as much celebrity from being one of the three Gabor sisters as she did from her acting.” This kind of assessment had dogged Eva throughout her career. As early as 1954, she described the difficulty she had overcoming her celebrity. “I’ve got to beat my glamour down. I’ve got to make the audience forget it, make them accept me...

  16. In the Wings
    (pp. 250-254)

    By discussing stars according to decade, this series enables us to see trends in Hollywood, and to capture aspects of the zeitgeist through analyses of star images. In this volume, we can see changing aesthetics, changing mores, and changing industry practices working together to alter and expand the concept of the star.

    The periodization of stars is a tricky business, however. Most stars do not fit neatly into single decades but work across two or more decades. In many cases, we can analyze how a star’s meaning changes over time. Joan Crawford, for example, shifts from being an iconic flapper...

    (pp. 255-262)
    (pp. 263-264)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 265-274)