Hitch Your Antenna to the Stars
Early Television and Broadcast Stardom
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First Published in 2005. In this engaging cultural and industrial history of early television, Susan Murray examines how and why the broadcasting industry gave birth to the idea of TV stars. Combining a sweeping view of the rise of the medium with profiles of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Jackie Gleason, Lucille Ball, and other early television greats, Murray illuminates the central role played by television stars in the growth and development of American broadcasting.
Table of Contents
1. Radio and the Saliency of a Broadcast Star System
2. "A Marriage of Spectacle and Intimacy": Modeling the Ideal Television Performer
3. Lessons from Uncle Miltie: Ethnic Masculinity and the Vaudeo Star
4. "TV is a Killer!" The Collapse of the Vaudeo Star and Television's Talent Crisis
5. Our Man Godfrey: Product Pitching and the Meaning of Authenticity
6. For the Love of Lucy: Packaging the Sitcom Star
Susan Murray is Assistant Professor of Culture and Communication at New York University. She is co-editor of Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture and her work has appeared in Cinema Journal, Television & New Media, and various anthologies.
"Hitch your Antenna to the Stars is a tour de force. In tracing the centrality of TV stars for the economic and aesthetic development of the early medium, Susan Murray breaks important new ground for media studies. Masterfully researched and written in a lucid, intelligent style, this book is required reading for media scholars, cultural historians, and anyone interested in understanding the origins of today's celebrity culture." -- Anna McCarthy, New York University, and author of Ambient Television
"Susan Murray's path-breaking history of early television in the USA should be a must-read for anyone interested in media studies. She skillfully integrates analysis of broadcast networks, sponsors, advertising agencies, talent unions, talent agencies, and the audience to help us fully understand the meanings generated in 1950s broadcast stardom. I learned something new from every page." -- Douglas Gomery, Library of American Broadcasting, University of Maryland
"Hitch Your Antenna to the Stars makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the era of network television in the United States. Susan Murray's carefully researched and engagingly written examination of the early history of TV stardom brings together issues of industry form, media audiences, and social context in original and highly productive ways." -- William Boddy, author of Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics and New Media and Popular Imagination