The Most Successful of Hollywood Film Stars Can Be Regarded as Almost Entirely Artificial Constructions. Discuss with Reference to the Hollywood Star System.

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  • Topic: Marilyn Monroe, 20th Century Fox, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
  • Pages : 7 (2763 words )
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  • Published : February 15, 2013
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“In building a public personality the motion picture industry has perfected the device of stereotyping its stars. The star system is based on the premise that a star is accepted by the public in terms of a certain set of personality traits which permeate all of his or her film roles. The successful stars have been those whose appeal can be catalogued into a series of such traits, associations and mannerisms” (Gledhill: 1991: 40). This statement can easily be applied to Marilyn Monroe because she was loved for her glamour and beauty as well as the “girl next door” persona. Even now after her death, she is still just as, maybe even more, successful in the present. Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of pulchritudinous but beauty is only skin deep as it does not always equal a luxurious life. Hollywood itself even admitted that they created false stories to fuel their publicity and they tended to do with some stars more regularly than others. Marilyn Monroe is one of the more obvious examples as Hollywood portrayed her as being the ultimate glamour puss and sex idol but her life was darker and more troubled than the perfect life we were to believe she led. Whilst some of the advertisements for ‘Some Like It Hot’ described Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as being Monroe’s ’bosom companions’, “Curtis was to speak later of Marilyn’s ‘vicious arrogance’ and ‘vindictive selfishness’...kissing Marilyn, he vouchsafed, was ‘like kissing Hitler’” (Summers, A: 1985: 177). On the other hand, “Dr Milton Gottlieb, who gave Marilyn gynaecological care says ‘she was insecure, frightened of the reality of life. A very disturbed young woman’” (ibid: 147). These two sides of the apparently flawless actress were because she thought she had inherited schizophrenia from her mother and this was a problem for Hollywood. They had to create this alternate persona for one of their biggest stars to keep the attraction to their films. Marilyn was born Norma Jeane Baker and in the mid 1940’s, she was offered a standard six-month contract with a starting salary of $125 per week. Ben Lyon, a 20th Century Fox executive, did not like her name and chose "Carole Lind" as a stage name, after Jenny Lind and Carole Lombard, but it was decided that it was not an appropriate. It was when Norma Jeane was invited to spend the weekend with Lyon at his home that they decided to find her a new name. Following her idol Jean Harlow, Norma Jeane decided to choose her mother's maiden name of Monroe. "Jeane Monroe" was initially chosen but Lyon felt that there were too many actress's with the name Jean, or a variation of it. Wanting a more unique name Lyon suggested Marilyn commenting that she reminded him of Marilyn Miller, the 1920's Broadway actress. Norma Jeane was initially hesitant due to Marilyn being the contraction of the name Mary Lynn, a name she did not like. Lyon, however, felt that the name "Marilyn Monroe" was sexy and had a "nice flow," and thus Norma Jeane Baker took the name Marilyn Monroe. This young lady was artificially constructed by Hollywood by enhancing her looks. Her hair was transformed from a mousy brown to a platinum blonde which then stereotyped her as the “dumb blonde” in the films she made. . The typecasting of Monroe's "dumb blonde" character limited her career prospects, so she broadened her range. She studied at the Actors Studio and formed Marilyn Monroe Productions. Her performance in “Bus Stop” was hailed by critics, and she won a Golden Globe for her performance in “Some Like it Hot”. Despite this stereotype and artificial construction of her identity, Monroe would attend acting class and pay heavy attention to the things said because she felt an enormous need to do better. This is the total opposite of the dumb blonde that she is portrayed as. Ironically she is being rather intelligent by learning how to play a dumb character. In “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “How to Marry a Millionaire”, Monroe is characterised as being a...
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