Conventional wisdom holds that John F. Kennedy was the first
celebrity president, in no small part because of his innate television savvy.
But as Kathryn Brownell shows, Kennedy capitalized on a tradition and style
rooted in California politics and the Hollywood studio system. Since the 1920s,
politicians and professional showmen have developed relationships and built
organizations institutionalizing Hollywood styles, structures, and
personalities in the American political process. Brownell explores how
similarities developed between operating a studio, planning a successful
electoral campaign, and ultimately running an administration.
Using their business and public relations know-how, figures
such as Louis B. Mayer, Bette Davis, Jack Warner, Harry Belafonte, Ronald
Reagan, and members of the Rat Pack made Hollywood connections an asset in a
political world being quickly transformed by the media. Brownell takes listeners
behind the camera to explore the negotiations and relationships that developed
between key Hollywood insiders and presidential candidates from Dwight
Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, analyzing how entertainment replaced party
spectacle as a strategy to raise money, win votes, and secure success for all
those involved. She demonstrates how Hollywood contributed to the rise of
mass-mediated politics, making the twentieth century not just the age of the
political consultant but also the age of showbiz politics. Download and start listening now!