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The Star Machine by Jeanine Basinger

From the 1930s to the 1950s, Hollywood studios were star machines--shaping male and female stars out of up-and-comers as if they were a product like any other. Back then, studios taught their stars how to walk and how to talk, and shaped them into what they perceived the public wanted, from girl-next-door types to handsome leading men.

Full of portraits of A-list stars as well as plenty of B-listers, The Star Machine also discusses the end of the star-making system after World War II. The result is "engaging, absorbing reading, perfect for waiting rooms, plane trips, and firesides" (Booklist).