Subject Area



This project proposes to study the ways in which celebrity women’s behavior may have encouraged American women to challenge, but not necessarily subvert, traditional gender roles even as Hollywood publicity continued to emphasize the importance of those same roles in women’s lives. It does that by examining three sites where celebrity women prominently lived, worked, played, and volunteered between 1920 and 1950: the Hollywood Studio Club, a boarding house only for women in the entertainment industry, in Los Angeles; the Sun Valley Ski Resort, the first modern ski resort in the American West, in central Idaho; and the Hollywood Canteen, a volunteer canteen for servicemen staffed only by Hollywood personnel, also in Los Angeles. An examination of the archival records of each site, together with fan magazine coverage, reveals that these sites became spaces where celebrity women pushed the boundaries of traditional gender norms and the strict separation of spheres that movie fan culture promoted. Simultaneously, these places came to represent certain ideologies about gender, class, and race in the United States between 1920 and 1950.

Hollywoodlandia demonstrates at these three individual sites, celebrity women behaved in ways that may have encouraged women to challenge traditional gender roles and expectations about their bodies in public spaces. However, the publicity about that same behavior at these sites reveals the extents to which creators of movie fan culture were invested in maintaining and reflecting not only traditional gender roles, but also propagating images of rich white women meant to function as representatives of the evolving conceptions of an “ideal” national American womanhood between 1920 and 1950, a womanhood that was malleable and modern and yet unchangingly restrictive. Within this argument can be found messages about the differences between how celebrity women and the film industry reflected, disseminated, and pushed back against prevailing ideas about gender, race, class, and nationalism in the United States during the industry’s golden age, laying the groundwork for a postwar cultural turn toward the home as women’s appropriate domain.

Degree Date

Spring 2024

Document Type


Degree Name





Dr. Crista DeLuzio

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Feeley

Third Advisor

Dr. Erin Hochman

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Thomas Knock

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License