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Starmaker - David O. Selznick and the Production of Stars in the Hollywood Studio System


David O. Selznick and the Production of Stars in the Hollywood Studio System

By Milan Hain
Hardcover : 9781496846051, 304 pages, 35 b&w illustrations, August 2023

A thorough study of the legendary producer and his creative business savvy


David O. Selznick (1902–1965) was one of the most prominent film producers of the Hollywood studio era, responsible for such artistic and commercial triumphs as King Kong, David Copperfield, Anna Karenina, A Star Is Born, Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, Spellbound, and The Third Man. However, film production was not his only domain. Starting in the late 1930s, he built an impressive stable of stars within his own independent company, including Ingrid Bergman, Vivien Leigh, Joan Fontaine, Jennifer Jones, and Gregory Peck.

In Starmaker: David O. Selznick and the Production of Stars in the Hollywood Studio System, author Milan Hain reveals the mechanisms by which Selznick and his collaborators discovered and promoted new stars and describes how these personalities were marketed, whether for financial gain or symbolic recognition and prestige. Using a wide range of archival materials, the book significantly complements and reshapes our understanding of Selznick’s celebrated career by focusing on heretofore neglected aspects of his creative and business activities. It also sheds light on the US film industry during the Golden Age of Hollywood studios and in the postwar period when the established order began to break down. By structuring the book around Selznick and his role as a starmaker, Hain demonstrates that star production and development in the Hollywood studio system was a highly organized and systematic activity, though the respective strategies and procedures were often hidden from the public eye.


"Starmaker is one of the best pieces of work I have read in recent years about the phenomenon of stardom and about Hollywood cinema in the 1930s and 1940s."

- Peter Krämer, senior research fellow in cinema and television at De Montfort University

"Starmaker is the first book on Selznick that concerns his professional career and his (mis)judgment of talent as he aided in the creation and development of stars. This approach makes it an extremely interesting, unique take on the role of the film producer not tackled before in book form."

- Gillian Kelly, author of Robert Taylor: Male Beauty, Masculinity, and Stardom in Hollywood

"Hain offers an extremely well-researched overview of Selznick, in collaboration with numerous archives, and crafts a narrative that is sure to be enjoyed by fans of classic film and various Selznick productions."

- Annette Bochenek, Hometowns to Hollywood blog

"Starmaker draws on Thomas Schatz’s 2015 study, “The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era,” a seminal history that Mr. Hain uses to deepen our sense of how interrelated the means of production were with the advent of screen personalities."

- Carl Rollyson, New York Sun