The Divo and the Duce: Promoting Film Stardom and Political Leadership in 1920s America

Nov 08, 2019 255

Tuesday, November 19, 2019, 6pm. John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, 25 West 43rd Street, 17th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10036. In the post-World War I American climate of isolationism, nativism, consumerism, and the democratic expansion of civic rights, Italian-born star Rodolfo Valentino and Italy's dictator Benito Mussolini became surprising paragons of authoritarian male power and mass appeal.

Drawing on extensive archival research in the United States and Italy, Giorgio Bertellini's The Divo and the Duce (University of California Press, 2019) shows how both men's popularity, political as well as erotic, depended largely on the efforts of public opinion managers, including publicists, journalists, and even ambassadors. Beyond the democratic celebrations of the Jazz Age, the promotion of their charismatic masculinity through spectacle and press coverage inaugurated the now-familiar convergence of popular celebrity and political authority.

SOURCE: John D. Calandra Italian American Institute

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