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'When Hollywood Was Right': C-Span talks to history professor about new book


March 06, 2013

C-Span Books came to town this week to interview local authors, among them Donald T. Critchlow, history professor at Arizona State University, who has written a new book about star-studded Hollywood conservatives.

Critchlow explores how movie stars, studio moguls and big business rebuilt the Republican Party in California after World War II, electing Ronald Reagan to the governor’s mansion in 1966 and then to the White House in 1980.

“There were plenty of conservatives in Hollywood in the 1940s through the 1970s – actors such as John Wayne, dancer Ginger Rogers, director John Ford, producer Louis B. Mayer of MGM and many others,” he said.

In his book, Critchlow tells the story of one the great political comebacks in American history, overcoming a deeply factionalized Republican Party to elect their own to high political office.

“While Hollywood has always been about making money, celebrity status in entertainment was easily translated into politics,” he said.

Critchlow came to ASU two years ago as the Barry Goldwater Chair in American Politics and Institutions. Last year he was appointed a research professor assigned to the School of Historical, Religious and Philosophical Studies, an academic unit in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

C-Span will air the interview April 6 and 7. Critchlow's book, "When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Stars, Studio Moguls and Big Business Remade American Politics," will be published by Cambridge University Press this fall.

For further information, contact Stephanie Birdsall.