The popularity of television in postwar suburban America had a devastating effect on the traditional Hollywood studio system. Yet many aging Hollywood stars used television to revive their fading careers. In Recycled Stars, Mary R. Desjardins examines the recirculation, ownership, and control of female film stars and their images in television, print, and new media. Female stardom, she argues, is central to understanding both the anxieties and the pleasures that these figures evoke in their audiences’ psyches through patterns of fame, decline, and return. From Gloria Swanson, Loretta Young, Ida Lupino, and Lucille Ball, who found new careers in early television, to Maureen O’Hara’s high-profile 1957 lawsuit against the scandal magazine Confidential, to the reappropriation of iconic star images by experimental filmmakers, video artists, and fans, this book explores the contours of female stars’ resilience as they struggled to create new contexts for their waning images across emerging media.
1. "The Elegance . . . Is Almost Overwhelming": Glamour and Discursive Struggles over Female Stardom in Early Television 13
2. Norma Desmond, Your Spell Is Everywhere: The Time and Place of the Female Film Star in 1950s Television and Film 57
3. Maureen O'Hara's "Confidential" Life: Recycling Hollywood Film Stars in the 1950s through Scandalous Gossip and Moral Biography 99
4. After the Laughter: Recycling Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as a Star Couple 143
5. Star Bodies, Star Bios: Stardom, Gender, and Identity Politics 191
Select Bibliography 295
"Recycled Stars is one of the fullest examinations of stardom that we have, and it makes a significant contribution to star studies and to broader considerations of film history and the use of primary sources in writing that history. Mary R. Desjardins makes innovative connections between media practices, from the film industry to television, tabloid journalism, and the legal system."
Eric Smoodin, author of
Regarding Frank Capra: Audience, Celebrity, and American Film Studies, 1930-1960
"Deftly synthesizing material ranging from fan magazines to cultural theory, Mary Desjardins's Recycled Stars offers a valuable contribution to star studies, gender studies, and media history alike with its dynamic exploration of female film star images regenerated for the small and its argument about the female star as a privileged commodity within media industries and the social imaginary."
Christine Becker, author of
It's the Pictures That Got Small: Hollywood Film Stars on 1950s Television
"[T]his meticulously researched book expertly draws from dazzling range material to produce a new understanding of how star images are produced and reproduced over time and to different ends."
The Journal of American History
"Recycled Stars makes an original and sophisticated contribution to film and television studies and will be widely welcomed by readers and teachers. It is also illustrated with a delectable selection of stills that communicate the glamour and the sheer creepiness of the star images under discussion in equal measure."
Journal of American Studies
"Desjardins covers [Gloria Swanson and Lucille Ball] and much more in this fascinating tome, which is richly illustrated with frame grabs from kinescopes, as she considers the shifting landscape of mid-20th-century female celebrity. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers."
G. A. Foster
"Well-written and using a rich variety of examples and methods, Recycled Stars is a useful and very readable addition to star studies, feminist media studies and film history."
"In addition to being multidisciplinary, this book demonstrates the importance of considering different elements of film studies together. Areas that were previously separate in film studies, such as stardom, fandom, and industrial factors, present a completely different understanding of the field when brought together—an understanding that could greatly benefit future research and study."
International Journal of Communications
Patrick Kent Russell
“Recycled Stars offers valuable insights into the relationships between stars and their publics, extending traditional scholarship by evaluating their impacts and consequences beyond a specific historical moment.”
Journal of American Culture