J. Warren Kerrigan

 

J. Warren Kerrigan had a profile written about him in photoplay in January 1931. The subject of the profile was a bit unusual, he’s retired, and he loves it. Warren was an early film personality who left Hollywood gracefully after a successful career. The interesting thing about his profile is that it doesn’t fall perfectly into any of Dyer’s categories, except of course the catch all “alternative type.” Originally I thought the profile would fall under the dream sourced, Dyer initially comments that “consumption and success are from time to time shown to be wanting.” (159). The dream sourced celebrity is however not successful, they are tragic failures. Warren was not presented this way, indeed the title of the article is “Hollywood’s only contented man.” For this reason, I think Kerrigan is categorically an ordinary star. He says “this retiring business has always been a dream of mine” and “when the house is sold, I’m going to Europe for a good long trip, then I’ll set myself up on a ranch in the valley.” These sorts of dreams or incredibly ordinary, the sorts of things every day men dream about. Granted they involve a large (yet not unmodest) amount of money, but what dreams don’t? 

Dyer categorizes these sorts of ordinary people stars as one of two categories on page 158, I think Kerrigan falls under the first, “stars can be seen as ordinary people who live more expensively than the rest of us but are not essentially transformed by this.”  Kerrigan embodies that ideal. Later in the article, a direct comparison is drawn between Kerrigan’s ideals and the standard ideals of Hollywood. An old producer of Kerrigan’s once thought he was crazy to sit around his garden and read all day, saying “That Kerrigan is crazy; passing his life that way, when he could be out making money and having a good time in the world,” That producer later turned up working as an extra in movies and said “I guess it was me, not Kerrigan, that was crazy.” That anecdote plays into Dyers concept of ordinariness perfectly, Kerrigan wasn’t changed by his money. 

 

This article is different in a couple of ways from modern pieces. First of all, the tone is different, more formal and planned. The interview reads, well, like an interview, whereas today they are surface level and short winded. More importantly though, the interview was relatively celebratory, and definitely not surface level. It was making a pretty accurate and flattering value judgement of the star, not spreading gossip of one form or another. 

This is the photoplay archive its in, it starts on page 55

http://archive.org/stream/photo40chic#page/n53/mode/2up

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