The Web Archiving Team and our colleagues in the Digital Content Management Section asked this question during an open house for attendees of the American Library Association’s annual conference, where we had a table set up to share information about our work.
As an ice breaker, we asked everyone who visited our table to write down their earliest memory of the internet on yellow post-it notes, and by the end of the night, we had over a hundred.
Today, movie stars are easily accessible to us: on TV, by way of streaming services and, of course, via the internet, usually even via that star’s very own Twitter and Instagram.
In fact, celebrities—of every conceivable stripe–are so omnipresent that it seems hard to imagine, or remember, a time when even our most famous film stars were as unattainable to us as the stars in the night sky.
But think of it: if not at the actual movie theater or, occasionally, appearing as themselves on radio broadcasts, how did fans learn about or “interact” with their favorite cinema personality?
This remoteness—and the hunger it generated—helped create the fan-magazine phenomenon that, for decades, put on the neighborhood newsstands an endless array of publications like “Photoplay” and “Modern Screen.”
And though these ‘zines were an important part of the film industry and fan experience, sometimes, to some true devotees, even they were not enough. Hence, in the early 1940s, Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, struck upon a new and innovative way of satisfying the desires of film fans—or at least the young and female ones—to know and even spend more time with their favorite film star.