Hollywood in American Political Life
Conventional wisdom holds that John F. Kennedy was the firstcelebrity president, in no small part because of his innate television savvy.But as Kathryn Brownell shows, Kennedy capitalized on a tradition and stylerooted in California politics and the Hollywood studio system. Since the 1920s,politicians and professional showmen have developed relationships and builtorganizations institutionalizing Hollywood styles, structures, andpersonalities in the American political process. Brownell explores howsimilarities developed between operating a studio, planning a successfulelectoral campaign, and ultimately running an administration.
Using their business and public relations know-how, figuressuch as Louis B. Mayer, Bette Davis, Jack Warner, Harry Belafonte, RonaldReagan, and members of the Rat Pack made Hollywood connections an asset in apolitical world being quickly transformed by the media. Brownell takes listenersbehind the camera to explore the negotiations and relationships that developedbetween key Hollywood insiders and presidential candidates from DwightEisenhower to Bill Clinton, analyzing how entertainment replaced partyspectacle as a strategy to raise money, win votes, and secure success for allthose involved. She demonstrates how Hollywood contributed to the rise ofmass-mediated politics, making the twentieth century not just the age of thepolitical consultant but also the age of showbiz politics.
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