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When Hollywood Was Right
How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls, and Big Business Remade American Politics


  • Date Published: December 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521199186

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About the Authors
  • Hollywood was not always a bastion of liberalism. Following World War II, an informal alliance of movie stars, studio moguls and Southern California business interests formed to revitalize a factionalized Republican Party. Coming together were stars such as John Wayne, Robert Taylor, George Murphy and many others, who joined studio heads Cecil B. DeMille, Louis B. Mayer, Walt Disney and Jack Warner to rebuild the Republican Party. They found support among a large group of business leaders who poured money and skills into this effort, which paid off with the election of George Murphy to the US Senate and of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan to the highest office in the nation. This is an exciting story based on extensive new research that will forever change how we think of Hollywood politics.

    • An accessible history of the impact of Hollywood Republicans on American politics
    • Provides new insights on the conservative history of Hollywood
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'When Hollywood Was Right offers a lesson for today of how an embattled, factionalized Republican Party came together to elect a principled and pragmatic conservative, Ronald Reagan, to the presidency. Plus this is a damn good read.' Barry Goldwater, Jr, former United States Congressman

    'Hollywood wasn't always a stronghold of the political Left. Back in the days after World War II, many movie moguls and movie stars - Louis B. Mayer, Cecil B. DeMille, Walt Disney, John Wayne, George Murphy - worked to revitalize the Republican Party. Donald Critchlow tells the exciting story of how they did, and how they helped elect Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan president.' Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst, Washington Examiner, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, and co-author, The Almanac of American Politics

    'While liberal movie stars vociferously proclaim that the blacklisted Hollywood Ten were innocent of any wrongdoing, Donald T. Critchlow presents the opposite view starting from the Great Depression and ending with the presidential election of Ronald Reagan. Written judiciously with passion and verve, this volume should be standard reading …' Irwin F. Gellman, Franklin and Marshall College, and author of Secret Affairs, The Contender, and The President and the Apprentice

    'Few people have more insightful things to say about modern politics than the historian Donald Critchlow. Now Critchlow has focused his keen political and historical skills on Hollywood. The result is a provocative, smart, original, and entertaining book that should be required reading for all students of American politics and popular culture.' Steven M. Gillon, Scholar-in-Residence, The History Channel

    'Don Critchlow has done it again. When Hollywood Was Right is the most comprehensive and detailed account of an epic that is too often told in black and white cartoonish tones. Critchlow captures the paradoxes of how the left-right clashes of the mid-twentieth century affected Hollywood, in many cases for the better. This fine-grained narrative, brimming with new detail Critchlow has unearthed from unused archives, leaves us wondering what is being lost in today's almost monolithically leftist Hollywood.' Steven Hayward, Thomas Smith Distinguished Fellow, Ashland University

    'This incisive, first-rate study is based on extensive archival research. When Hollywood Was Right masterfully tells how anticommunism drove film industry executives, directors, and stars, allied with business leaders, to remake the Republican Party in California after World War II. As Professor Donald T. Critchlow astutely argues, the result had national implications. These conservatives backed Richard Nixon and ultimately put one of their own, Ronald Reagan, in the White House.' William J. Rorabaugh, University of Washington and author of The Real Making of the President: Kennedy, Nixon, and the 1960 Election

    'Donald Critchlow's When Hollywood Was Right helps puncture the myth that Hollywood has always been an unopposed bastion of liberalism. Surveying Hollywood's political landscape from the 1930s to 1980, Critchlow deftly reveals how Republican movie stars, studio moguls, and Southern California business leaders worked together to rebuild their party and help launch a conservative revolution that transformed the shape of American politics.' Steven J. Ross, University of Southern California, and author of Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics

    'This is a book well worth reading. Certainly every academic library should own a copy.' Hope Leman, Critical Margins (

    'The stories Critchlow tells are fascinating in their own right. From a broader perspective, they also help inform our understanding of the complicated pathways by which some major American institutions - the film industry, journalism, academia - have, over time, come to tilt further to the left (not uniformly, as the book makes clear), while other institutions - religion, law, corporate America and the GOP itself - have come to lean further to the right.' Neil Gross,

    'The idea of an era in which Hollywood exerted a substantial influence in Republican politics seems almost science fictional … When Hollywood Was Right offers an insightful examination of just such a strange proposition.' Commentary

    'Critchlow goes beyond the production sets and screenplays. He shows how Hollywood actually aided the electoral prospects of Republican presidential candidates Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.' The Weekly Standard

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521199186
    • length: 235 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 162 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Setting the stage in the 1930s: Republicans on defense
    2. Anti-communism comes to Hollywood
    3. The Red Scare hits Hollywood
    4. Nixon plays Hollywood
    5. The Hollywood Right goes for Goldwater and finds Reagan
    6. Ronald Reagan: triumph and decline of the Hollywood Right.

  • Author

    Donald T. Critchlow, Arizona State University
    Donald T. Critchlow is a Professor of History at Arizona State University. He has authored and edited numerous books, including The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Made Political History (2007, revised 2011); Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism (2005); and Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government (1999). He is currently working on a data-driven book, American Democracy Now and its Future. He is editor of the Journal of Policy History, an interdisciplinary quarterly published by Cambridge University Press, and general editor of the Cambridge Essential Histories Series.

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