How Stars of the Pre-Twitterverse Honed Their Public Images

Originally posted on Variety:

Movie stars (and wannabes) are obsessing more and more these days about their social-media presence. Many, like Channing Tatum, Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus, have hired gurus to design sites and manufacture tweets that resonate: consultants whose job it is to lure new Twitter followers or simply to buy them in bulk on the open market.

Counselled by digital advisers and phalanxes of press agents, celebrities today are fiercely committed to building their careers and product lines into distinctive brands.

It wasn’t always thus. In talking with Barbara Stanwyck biographer Victoria Wilson, I was reminded of that period in Hollywood’s past when movie stars sought to project themselves as people, not brands — indeed, they even poured their hearts out to interviewers to “sell” their stories. Wilson, a VP and senior editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishers who normally presides over literary manuscripts, has just published a 1,044 page biography…

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