How Show Business Went Union

Since the nineteenth century, the IATSE union has organized behind-the-scenes workers, first in theater, then in the movies.
Actor John Boles with extras from his latest musical, 'Redheads On Parade', 1935

The Rise of Hollywood’s “Extra Girls”

They didn't have to do anything besides stand around and look pretty. At least, that was the myth the studios wanted the public to believe.
From a movie ad for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, 1917

The Shark-Fighting Brothers behind 20,000 Leagues under the Sea

In 1916, the Williamson brothers used their father's underwater photography device to film a fight with a shark, piquing Universal Pictures' interest.
A film still from The Frog

The Bizarre Marvels of Segundo de Chomón, Father of Spanish Cinema

Segundo de Chomón made “trick films” that experimented with color and temporality, influencing the surrealist work of Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí.
Marilyn Monroe at Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde's backyard, 1950

How Hollywood Sold Glamour

The complicated notion of glamour in classic Hollywood, suggesting that stars were aloof and unknowable, was also a means to sell products.
People visiting the morgue in Paris to view the cadavers

The Paris Morgue Provided Ghoulish Entertainment

With its huge windows framing the corpses on display, the morgue bore an uncomfortable resemblance to a department store.
The Witch from Benjamin Christensen's Häxan, 1922

The Satanic Foreign Film That Was Banned in the U.S.

Benjamin Christensen's Häxan was part documentary and part fantasy—and considered too disturbing for public viewing.
Two police officers in full riot gear arrest a Black man during a breakout of rioting and looting on the West side of Detroit, Michigan, July 23, 1967.

The Detroit Rebellion

From 1964 to 1972, at least 300 U.S. cities faced violent upheavals, the biggest led by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, in Detroit.
A still from Princess Nicotine

The Exploding Women of Early 20th Century “Trick Films”

In “trick films,” women were shown literally exploding over kitchen accidents—the early 1900s way of mining humor out of human tragedies.
A protest of Gone With the Wind organized by the D.C. chapter of the National Negro Congress

White Hollywood’s Romance with the N-Word

It would have been easy for censors to just ban the racist epithet during the classical era of film. Here's why it didn't happen.