The first fan magazine popped up in 1910, the same year as the first "movie star" made her appearance - the now-forgotten "Florence Lawrence." Lawrence may not have lasted in the popular
Such magazines contained carefully-controlled publicity pieces, most of which served two aims - to bring the audience at once closer and further from the stars. The reader was supposed to feel awe at the stars - take a look at Adolphe Menjou's wardrobe.
The stars were not only beautiful and well-dressed - they had land, in the form of beautiful mansions, complete with formal gardens and swimming pools. Movie magazines presented almost feudal tributes to their ostensible "subjects."
Yet a star could not get too far from the star-watchers - otherwise awe might turn into resentment. Stars also "shared" ordinary activities with their readers - there were arranged photos of actors and actresses "at home." Magazines such as Photoplay would also carry columns bringing tips on etiquette, diet, beauty, and fashion, linked with features on the stars' wardrobes and their health routines.
Such features were also good ways to bring in tie-ins - the most important part of any film magazine. A reader could find endorsements from the stars for anything from such personal items as cigarettes and "reducing tablets" to wide-scale ventures such as railroad lines. Some movie stars even had their own lines of product - in 1927 Clara Bow came out with a signature line of
Of course, not every piece was adoring. For every piece designed to sell the positive aspects of the stars, there was a scandal sheet revealing the "true" story. In 1922, following the Taylor murder, the former editor of Photoplay, Ed Roberts, anonymously wrote "The Sins of Hollywood: An Expose of Movie Vice." Following this were Free Lance and Hollywood Confessions. All three were important enough to merit a considerable industry backlash. These publications pretended to be, in the well-worn phrase, "for the children" - viewers had a right to know what these supposedly simon-pure stars were doing because they were the idols of impressionable boys and girls. Roberts justified The Sins of Hollywood so:
Not surprisingly, such magazines existed to feed the "dark side" of fans' obsession. The urge to see idols fall was just as strong as the call to worship.