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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, including various songs titled “Movie Star”, see: Movie star (disambiguation).
Movie star Tobey Maguire greets fans at the Spider-Man 3 premiere in Queens.

A movie star (cine star or film star) is a celebrity who is well-known, or famous, for his or her starring, or leading, roles in motion pictures. The term may also apply to an actor or actress who is recognized as a marketable commodity and whose name is used to promote a movie in trailers and posters. The most widely known, prominent or successful actors are sometimes called “superstars” by writers and journalists. A movie star is someone who is involved in the industry of entertainment.


United States

Hollywood, first years

In the early days of silent movies the names of the actors and actresses appearing in movies were not publicized or credited as they are now. Some of these performers had to help build the sets, clean up and perform other chores around the studio. As the movie-going public became more interested in the performers who attracted their attention, however, the curiosity to know more about them made the movie studios and producers rethink their policy. As the demand increased, they began publicizing the names of their leading women and men, and bill them in the credits of their movies, such as (in the USA) Florence Lawrence, referred to as the “first movie star”, who was previously known only as the “Biograph Girl”, because she worked for Biograph Studios, and the “IMP Girl” because she worked for the Independent Moving Pictures Company, and Mary Pickford, who was previously known as “Little Mary”.

By 1909, IMP began promoting their “picture personalities”, such as Florence Lawrence and King Baggot, by giving them billing/credits and a marquee. Promotion in advertising led to the release of stories about these personalities to newspapers and fan magazines as part of a strategy to build “brand loyalty” for their company's actors and films. By the 1920s, Hollywood film company promoters had developed a “massive industrial enterprise” that “…peddled a new intangible—fame.” [1]

Hollywood “image makers” and promotional agents planted rumors, selectively released real or fictitious biographical information to the press, and used other “gimmicks” to create glamorous personas for actors. Publicists thus “created” the “enduring images” and public perceptions of screen legends such as Rock Hudson, Marilyn Monroe, and Grace Kelly. The development of this “star system” made “fame…something that could be fabricated purposely, by the masters of the new ‘machinery of glory’.” [1] However, regardless of how “…strenuously the star and their media handlers and press agents may…try to ‘monitor’ and ‘shape’ it, the media and the public always play a substantial part in the image-making process.” [1] According to Madow, “fame is a ‘relational’ phenomenon, something that is conferred by others. A person can, within the limits of his natural talents, make himself strong or swift or learned. But he cannot, in this same sense, make himself famous, any more than he can make himself loved.”

Madow goes on to point out “fame is often conferred or withheld, just as love is, for reasons and on grounds other than ‘merit’.” According to Sofia Johansson the “canonical texts on stardom” include articles by Boorstin (1971), Alberoni (1972) and Dyer (1979) that examined the “representations of stars and on aspects of the Hollywood star system”. Johansson notes “more recent analyses within media and cultural studies (e.g. Gamson 1994; Marshall 1997; Giles 2000; Turner, Marshall and Bonner 2000; Rojek 2001; Turner 2004) have instead dealt with the idea of a pervasive, contemporary, ‘celebrity culture’.” In the analysis of the celebrity culture, “fame and its constituencies are conceived of as a broader social process, connected to widespread economic, political, technological and cultural developments.” [2]

In the 1980s and 1990s, entertainment companies began using stars for a range of publicity tactics including press releases, movie junkets, and community activities. These promotional efforts are targeted and designed using market research, to increase the predictability of success of their media ventures. In some cases, publicity agents may create “provocative advertisements” or make an outrageous public statement to trigger public controversy and thereby generate “free” news coverage.[1] Movie studios employed performers under long-term contracts. They developed a star system as a means of promoting and selling their movies. “Star vehicles” were filmed to display the particular talents and appeal of the most popular movie stars of the studio.

The last of the greats

With the loss of Katharine Hepburn, Bob Hope and Gregory Peck in 2003, Shelley Winters in 2006 and Deborah Kerr and Van Johnson in 2007 and 2008 respectively, the number of stars are dwindling. Baby Marie Osborne, Diana Serra Cary(Baby Peggy), Barbara Kent, Miriam Seegar, Mickey Rooney and Dickie Moore are the last surviving stars from the silent era. Gloria Stuart, Lupita Tovar, Maureen O'Hara, Deanna Durbin, Mary Carlisle Shirley Temple, Joan Fontaine and sister Olivia De Havilland are the last main 1930s actresses, and Lauren Bacall, Jane Russell, Esther Williams, Lizabeth Scott, Betty Garrett, Celeste Holm, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas and Nanette Fabray are some of the last from the 1940s. The 1950s saw the collapse of the old studio contract system. Some of the last stars from that decade are Eleanor Parker, Patricia Neal, Doris Day, Tony Curtis, Gloria DeHaven, Angela Lansbury, Jane Powell, and Mitzi Gaynor.


Movie stars in other regions too have their own star value. For instance, in Asian film industries, many movies often run on the weight of the star's crowd pulling power more than any other intrinsic aspect of film making.


The Indian film industry has its own set of rules in this aspect and there are often superstars in this region, who often command premium pay commensurate with their box office appeal. Among them, Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan is considered to be the world's most successful movie star,[3] with a fan following numbering in the billions[4] and a net worth estimated at over Rs 2500 crore (US$ 540 million).[5] Meanwhile, Tamil film actor Rajinikanth is the second highest paid actor in Asia after Jackie Chan as of 2007. Other Indian actors who are among the most popular movie stars in Southern Asia include Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Hrithik Roshan, Kamal Hassan, Chiranjeevi, Vishnuvardhan, Mohanlal and Mammootty.


A number of Chinese film actors have become some of the most popular movie stars in Eastern Asia and are also well-known in the Western world. They include include Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat, Stephen Chow, Sammo Hung, Gong Li, Ziyi Zhang, Bai Ling, Joan Chen, Maggie Cheung, and the late Bruce Lee.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Mitchell A. Flagg, “Star Crazy: Keeping The Right Of Publicity Out Of Canadian Law” (1999) Ad IDEM <>
  2. ^ Editorial by Sofia Johansson from the Communication and Media Research Institute of the University of Westminster. Available at:
  3. ^ "The Global Elite – 41: Shahrukh Khan". Newsweek. 20 December 2008. Retrieved 24 December 2008. 
  4. ^ Sarah Gordon (10 February 2010). "Airport denies Shah Rukh Khan's body scanner image was printed for autographs". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  5. ^ "Shah Rukh Khan's net worth is 2500 crore". Times of India. 21 October 2009. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 

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Simple English

File:Tobey Maguire greets fans at Spiderman 3 by David
Movie star Tobey Maguire greets fans at the Spider-Man 3 premiere in Queens, New York.

A movie star (also called a cinema star or film star) is a famous actor who is the main actor in movies that often have a high cost of being made. When an actor is the main actor in a movie, he or she is called the star of the movie.

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