How Hollywood Survived the Great Depression

If you’ve ever wondered how Hollywood managed to survive the Great Depression, you’re not alone. The 1930s were the darkest years of the American economy, and movies were a necessary form of escape from the dreary news. Hollywood stepped in to play an emotional and moral role by providing a world of hope to an impoverished nation. In fact, 80 million people paid a mere twenty-seven cents a week for a movie to cheer them up. Of course, Hollywood was not immune from the Depression, and was $20-410 million in debt, including the debts of the studios that created and sold films.

Films produced during this period reflected the times and the culture of the United States. During this period, people were out of work and often penniless. Many of Hollywood’s stars helped raise the American spirit, from Shirley Temple as a child to the first macho man, Clark Gable, and Charlie Chaplin. Some of the movies starred Depression-era Americans like Robert Taylor, James Cagney, and Jane Harvey. Despite the grim situation of the American people, Hollywood produced films that captured the essence of that time and a generation.

The era of the silent film began in the late eighteen hundreds. Some historians believe that the Golden Age of Hollywood began in 1908 when Harvey Henry Wilcox moved to Los Angeles and purchased 150 acres of land west of Hollywood. By the turn of the century, the Hollywood area had a post office, hotels, and markets. The Hollywood studios, in particular, had gained international recognition thanks to the rise of smaller companies such as Columbia, Universal, and United Artists.

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