Exhibiting Women: Gender, Showmanship, and the Professionalization of Film Exhibition in the United States, 1900–1930
By operating traveling movie shows, managing nickelodeons and neighborhood theatres, playing musical accompaniments to films, selling tickets, and singing illustrated songs, thousands of pioneering women, long neglected in published histories, made vital contributions to the development of film exhibition throughout the silent film era. How did female exhibitors gain a foothold in the business in the first thirty years of film history, and why were all but the ubiquitous girl at the box office marginalized? Professionalization, at least in the US film industry, was a gendered process that negatively affected women, and eventually created a masculinized industry. Despite their eviction from picture palace management, women would nevertheless continue to work in all areas of theatres and would remain important as small town and rural exhibitors throughout Hollywood history.
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