Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In the days of early silents the names of the actors and actresses appearing in movies were not publicized or credited. Some of these performers had to help build the sets, do clean up and other chores. But as the movie going public became more and more interested in the performers who attracted their attention, the curiosity to know more about them made the movie studios and producers rethink their policy.
As the demand increased, they began publicizing the names of their leading women and men, and bill them in the credits of their movies, such as Florence Lawrence, referred to as "the first movie star," who was previously known only as the "Biograph Girl" because the movie studio where she worked was Biograph, and Mary Pickford, who was previously known as "Little Mary."
Movie studios employed performers under long-term contracts. They developed a star system as a means of promoting and selling their movies. "Star vehicles" were filmed to display the particular talents and appeal of the most popular movie stars of the studio.
Traditionally, those who have, or have achieved, star status in the movie industry are given special treatment, perks and high salaries. Some have become extremely wealthy.
Other than those movie stars who began forming their own production companies to make more money, and those who received a percentage of the profits to star in a movie, such as Lana Turner for Imitation of Life (1959), reaping millions of dollars, the first movie star to be paid a fee of $1,000,000 to star in a movie was Elizabeth Taylor for Cleopatra (1963). For his appearance in the 1978 movie Superman, movie star Marlon Brando received almost $4,000,000 for eight minutes of screen time as Superman's father, Jor-El.
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