Where Does Movie Star Come From?

Have you ever wondered where the term “movie star” comes from? It’s a term that has been around for over a century, but its origins might surprise you.

Early Days of Hollywood

In the early days of Hollywood, actors and actresses were not known as movie stars. In fact, they weren’t even credited by name in the films they appeared in. Instead, they were referred to simply as “players” or “cast members.”

It wasn’t until the 1910s and 1920s that the concept of the movie star began to take shape. As films became more popular and actors gained more recognition, studios began promoting their stars as larger-than-life figures, with glamorous lifestyles and adoring fans.

The Rise of Fan Magazines

One major factor in the development of the movie star was the rise of fan magazines in the 1910s and 1920s. These publications were dedicated to covering Hollywood celebrities and their personal lives, creating a sense of intimacy between stars and their fans.

Fan magazines often featured photoshoots with actors and actresses, complete with captions that emphasized their beauty and charm. They also published interviews with stars, giving readers a glimpse into their personal lives.

The Studio System

Another key factor in the development of the movie star was the studio system. During this era, actors were typically under contract to specific studios for several years at a time. This gave studios control over how their stars were marketed and presented to audiences.

Studios carefully crafted each star’s image, choosing roles that would showcase their strengths and downplay any weaknesses. They also provided them with stylists, publicists, and other professionals to help maintain their image offscreen.

The Golden Age of Hollywood

By the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood had entered its Golden Age, and movie stars had become a central part of American culture. Stars like Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Humphrey Bogart were not only famous for their onscreen performances but also for their personal lives and public personas.

During this time, the term “movie star” became firmly entrenched in the American lexicon. It was used to describe not just actors and actresses but also other celebrities in the entertainment industry.


In conclusion, the term “movie star” has its roots in the early days of Hollywood, when actors were first beginning to gain recognition and studios were starting to promote them as larger-than-life figures. The rise of fan magazines and the studio system helped to solidify the concept of the movie star, which has since become an enduring symbol of American culture.