Star (person)

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Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Dolby Theater

A star [ ˈstaːr ] or [ ˈʃtaˈʃr ], alternatively [ ] or [ ] (from English star , " star ") is a prominent personality with outstanding achievements in a certain area and a prominent media presence.


The personified star is the subject of investigation in media , film and social sciences . Richard Dyer presented a fundamental work on this with his book "Stars" in 1979, which, however, relates exclusively to film stars. The rise to star and its status is the subject of a comprehensive investigation by Moshe Adler. Werner Faulstich in particular conducts research on stars in the German-speaking world . The fact that a star initially excelled through outstanding performance in a certain area is now considered certain. A public interest is also required , through which the star and his performance are transported to the interested public. A high level of public awareness, in turn, can increase the acceptance of a star by the public to such an extent that it builds a fan relationship . Star is a status symbol that sets the star apart from other people without that status in the same area. Sherwin Rosen prefers a monetary definition: For him, stars are a "relatively small number of people who make enormous amounts of money and who dominate the field in which they operate". From an economic point of view, stars are an industry product that fulfills its function in particular as an advertising medium and thus serves the needs. According to Adler, the phenomenon of a star can only exist where consumption requires knowledge.


Not every person who is known or who has achieved something outstanding in a field is a star. The “personalized extraordinaryness or the extraordinary” does not make stars alone. In addition, there must be permanent prominence in widely read media and the resulting outstanding awareness. Sometimes stars are equated with icons. Mother Teresa , for example, did something extraordinary, but she is not a star. Even scientists who have achieved outstanding results in individual disciplines are usually not stars. Idols are people who are revered and mostly young people emulate. "Show legends" are stars whose performance quality is praised. Divas emphasize their distance from the audience. A superstar (or world star ) is internationally recognized or known in several cultures.


Personality staging has always existed, but it was only possible to spread it with the mass media . In the period of Romanticism and its cult of genius, true “pilgrimages” began to the visual artists, such as Ingres in Paris , Thorvaldsen in Copenhagen and Overbeck in Rome , who were celebrated by numerous magazines in addition to word of mouth . The first public relations company like Ivy Lee , which was founded in Boston in 1900 , was not just about attention from the start, but rather about the credible communication of a constructed image.

The first stars were American cinema and music stars, from whose increasing popularity the Anglicism "Star" also comes. The names of the film actors were initially not mentioned in the early silent films ; The first names of the film actors were mentioned in the film magazine Music World since 1909 . From this it follows that Startum is necessarily associated with attribution. The first stars were film actors whose name was shown in the opening credits . They were also featured prominently in advertising and became an instrument to attract viewers to the cinema. The first film actress to appear by her name was Florence Lawrence in the silent film The Broken Oath (premiered March 14, 1910). She was hailed as "America's Leading Film Star" in the magazine of the Independent Movie Pictures Company in March 1910; the movie star was born. The up-and-coming film industry began systematically with a “star system”, a method for establishing, promoting and making intensive use of film stars. Agencies and media also began to concentrate on individual film actors and give them an outstanding image. The early film stars Judy Garland , Rock Hudson , Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe were all created in this way.

As early as 1914, people in Germany were also talking about “cinema stars”. The first stars in Germany are Asta Nielsen and Henny Porten (see German film ). Asta Nielsen became a star through the movie Abscape (premiere: December 3, 1910), colleague Henny Porten is considered the first German-speaking film star through the film Hann, Hein and Henny (September 21, 1917). Marlene Dietrich became an overnight star with the film The Blue Angel (premiered April 1, 1930). As early as 1910, the Hermann Leiser company in Berlin began building a monopoly on “star postcards”, which mostly also contained the star's signature.

Ufa stars

The term primarily includes actors who have appeared in Ufa films . For the older German generation, the so-called "Ufa stars" played a bigger role, as they embodied the zeitgeist of the 30s and 40s. Actors such as Hans Albers , Zarah Leander , Heinz Rühmann , Marika Rökk or Ilse Werner were also active in the music business, which increased their awareness and popularity.

Music stars

Some musicologists consider Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to be the first pop star in music history . The development of the musical start is then closely linked to the mass reproduction of songs on sound carriers . It shall Enrico Caruso as the first star of the phonograph , not least through the first million-seller of the history of the music industry, published in May 1904 Vesti La Giubba . The introduction of the Top40 radio in 1953 can be seen as a strengthening of the start, as a special- interest program that glorified the successful performers through intensive airplay of the top 40 singles . Bing Crosby , Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles became stars. When sound carriers had become inexpensive mass products since the single was introduced in 1948, the development of music stars could no longer be stopped. The effect was reinforced by accompanying print media such as Billboard and its hit parades (since January 4, 1936), Bravo (since November 4, 1956 with the Musicbox charts "Schlagerfavoriten", "Starschnitt"). This also applies to pure music channels such as MTV (since August 1, 1981) or VIVA (since December 1, 1993). In the print media , special magazines (e.g. in - Stars & Sternchen since April 9, 2007) deal with all information available about stars in order to market the public and private lives of stars in a more targeted manner. The US magazine Variety has been reporting on stars since December 16, 1905. These magazines satisfy the curiosity of fans, without which there can be no star. There are also special TV magazines ( Exclusiv - Das Starmagazin , on RTL Television since May 2, 1994 ) or even special -interest TV channels that deal exclusively with stars (the US “celebtv”; since January 28, 2007). Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson saw themselves as the greatest music stars of all time during their lifetime .

Sports stars

Julia Mährlein made it clear in her Göttingen dissertation (with Arnd Krüger ) that extraordinary athletic performance is necessary in order to become a hero in sport, but that through skillful management the athlete can only become a brand through permanent, consistent performance . In her analysis of the heroes in sport during the Weimar period, Swantje Scharenberg showed what extraordinary achievements “hero potential” had for the respective period. For Garry Whannel, however, from an Anglo-American perspective, the media sports star always has to be a man, since in the present, when physical dominance is no longer required professionally, male hegemony can be preserved.


Depending on the subject, a distinction is made between film stars (such as Sean Connery ), music stars ( Beatles ), star authors ( Joanne K. Rowling ), sports stars ( Mark Spitz ), political stars ( Helmut Schmidt ), television stars ( Thomas Gottschalk ), star reporters ( Bob Woodward ), star directors ( Steven Spielberg ) or fashion stars ( Karl Lagerfeld ) and also porn stars ( Jenna Haze ). Further segmentations are possible within these categories; in music, for example, by pop stars, country stars, rock stars or hit stars. In terms of age, one differentiates between child stars (the early Conny Froboess ) and adult stars. Child actors are the subject of controversy regarding labor law, school education and excessive performance. Star lawyers ( Rolf Bossi ) are lawyers who represent stars in court proceedings and thus also bring them into the public eye.

With regard to the form of comparison , the lowest level is starlets ("little film stars"), i.e. young actors in Hollywood films who are still to be built up as film stars. They are ranked higher than stars, above them top stars, superstars and megastars. The protagonists of the soap operas are also located below the star , they are merely "celebrities", ie people who are known in public life. Conversely, generic terms can also be formed, such as media stars, under which star reporters, radio stars or television stars can be subsumed.


Stars can be idol, role model or cult figure (mostly after death). A star often becomes an idol if he dies under mysterious circumstances and very prematurely (like James Dean or Elvis Presley ) and can no longer destroy the acquired mythical image. Rituals of worship and admiration are also referred to as cult in the secular sense that is practiced around the stars. Similar to the religious cult, this cult is often nourished by myths surrounding the star. These myths and legends arise from a mixture of media-conveyed images, one's own often transfigured memories, projected longings, stories from others, etc., the truth of which is difficult to test.

The role model arises when the audience of a star compares themselves with them and, under certain circumstances, adopts their actions or characteristics. The possession of a sound carrier or other merchandising products can symbolize the possession of the revered star. The star becomes a cult figure when an entire era or a whole style is associated with him. The star is understood as a "social construct" that is recognized by his adoring fans. It is a “procedural product of reflection” because, after acknowledging his role as a star, he in turn confirms his star role through appropriate media representation. Above-average success is a prerequisite for a person to develop into a star at all. In addition, there must be a certain personality cult among the audience.

In particular, Elvis Presley has developed since 1956 as a prototype of a cult figure when he spoke of the more regional Sun Records - record label to record giants RCA changed, were made possible by a variety of million sellers. According to Faulstich, Elvis acted as the leading figure of a new generation of young people against conservative parents. It was similar with stars like Michael Jackson and Madonna .

Three components make a star: success, image and continuity. For the marketing of a film, participating stars are an essential marketing tool because they guarantee publicity . However, since a film is rated as an overall experience, stars are by no means a guarantee of success. Even stars cannot save a bad film. This can be applied to all subject areas. Conversely, it has been proven that pop stars have an easier time marketing their records than unknown performers in the same genre. In order to become a movie star, his films must gain worldwide attention. This was achieved in particular by American movie stars, who were supported on their way to stardom by the marketing strategy of Hollywood's film industry.

Importance for adolescents and adults

Stars are especially adored by young people. It is the essence of the stars to address the needs of adolescents who have just entered puberty for freedom , love or even sex without, however, directly fulfilling them. By giving them the possibility of a first quasi- platonic love relationship , they can be an important orientation for young people in particular. Although the popular folklore of star infatuations is mostly associated exclusively with puberty and adolescence, it is also widespread among adults, as the relevant internet forums have made clear. Scientific studies on this topic so far only exist in very small numbers. Personal preferences and different perspectives due to different generations and cultures play a major role in the preference for certain stars.

Star image and star cult

Star cult is generally the critical term for the exaggerated (self-) representation of personalities in the media. However, the star cult can also be used to describe the systematic presentation of a particular star, which usually requires a consistency of his public appearance. To do this, it is necessary to build up an image that is as constant as possible so that the expectations aroused in the fans can also be permanently fulfilled. Movie stars usually appear in the same or similar roles in films, music stars usually present the same style of music. This is used for recognition by fans. However, it is very rare for stars to change this image, once they have been chosen. This is how Peter Maffay managed to free himself from the schnulzen image of his ballad Du, which has sold millions of times, and to establish himself as a rock singer.

An expert on the harmful effects of Bravo on young people came to the conclusion in their “star cuts” that “dealing with a star over a period of weeks (cutting out, putting together, sticking on) contributes significantly to the star cult”; the "star cut" should exaggerate the loyalty of an already convinced fan by "suggesting the presence of the star in the most private space as realistically as possible as a life-size image."

As external indicators of excellence are valid for a star when he reported in the literature a bestseller written or any of the numerous literary awards received, in the music number one hits or even million-seller can show or the film at a box-office - Hit has contributed. Awards with a symbolic character for stardom are gold or platinum records , Emmy Awards , Grammy Awards , Oscars or the Echo . Only a few stars have their names engraved on a symbolized star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame .


  • Arnd Krüger , Swantje Scharenberg (ed.): Times for heroes - times for celebrities in sport . LIT, Münster 2014, ISBN 978-3-643-12498-2 .
  • Julia Mährlein: The sports star in Germany: The development of the top athlete from hero to brand. Sierke, Göttingen 2009, ISBN 978-3-86844-130-7 .
  • Swantje Scharenberg : The construction of public sport and its heroes in the daily press of the Weimar Republic . Schöningh, Paderborn 2012, ISBN 978-3-506-77117-9 .
  • Günter W. Kienitz, Bettina Grabis: Everything about your music and film stars . Moses, Kempen 2001, ISBN 3-89777-058-X .
  • Manuela Honsig-Erlenburg (Ed.): Linguistic staging of music idols in commercial youth magazines: stars of flesh and blood or a youth scene between market, culture and media . Graz Science Shop, Graz 1998.
  • Heinz-Hermann Krüger (Ed.): "The Elvis-Tolle, I let it grow inconspicuously": life story and youthful everyday culture in the fifties . Leske and Budrich, Opladen 1985, ISBN 3-8100-0522-3 .
  • Ulrich Beer: Cult with young idols: models of the throwaway society . Dürrenäsch, Kassel-Harleshausen 1975, ISBN 3-87893-008-9 .
  • Enno Patalas : Social History of Stars . Marion von Schröder, Hamburg 1963.
  • Paul Werner, Uta van Steen: Rebel in Hollywood, 13 portraits of obstinacy . tende, Dülmen 1986.
  • Wolfgang Ullrich, Sabine Schirdewahn (Ed.): Stars. Approaches to a phenomenon . Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2002.
  • Richard Dyer: Stars . Rev.ed. St Edmundsbury Press, London 2002.
  • Andrew Evans, Glenn D. Wilson: Fame: The Psychology of Stardom . Vision, London 1999.
  • Janne Mäkelä. John Lennon IMAGINED: Cultural history of a Rock Star . Peter Lang Publishing, New York 2004.
  • Carlo Michael Sommer: Stars as a means of constructing identity . In: W. Faulstich, H. Korte (Ed.): Der Star. History, reception, meaning. Fink, Munich 1997.
  • Markus Schroer : The star. In: Stephan Moebius , Markus Schroer: Divas, Hackers, Speculators. Social figures of the present. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2010, pp. 381–395.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Megan Garber: Why Are They 'Stars'? In: The Atlantic (online edition), February 24, 2017.
  2. ^ A b Moshe Adler: Stardom and Talent . In: American Economic Review 75, March 1985, pp. 208 ff. ( PDF ; 595 kB)
  3. ^ Sherwin Rosen, The Economics of Superstars. In: American Economic Review 71, December 1981, p. 845.
  4. Werner Faulstich, Stars, Idols, Advertising Media, Heroes: Social Change through Media. In: Funkkolleg Medien und Kommunikation. Study Letter No. 16, 1991, p. 39.
  5. ^ Jeanette Staiger: Actors, Celebrities, Stars and Image , 1997, p. 49.
  6. Peter Strunk: The AEG . The rise and fall of an industrial legend. Nicolai-Verlag, Berlin, ISBN 3-87584-863-2 , p. 88 (264 pp.).
  7. ^ A b Hans O. Hügel: Praise of the mainstream: On the concept and history of entertainment and popular culture. 2007, p. 162 ( online ).
  8. Idol | Spelling, definition, meaning. In: Duden-Online. Dudenverlag, accessed on July 26, 2016 .
  9. ^ Karl Dallas: Singers of an Empty Day. Last Sacraments for the Superstars. Kahn & Averill, London 1971.
  10. Silke Borgstedt: Der Musikstar , 2008, p. 35.
  11. ^ Journal of Swiss archeology and art history. Volumes 62–63, 2005, p. 83: “... the topos of the artist visit in the 19th century ... whether it took place at Ingres, Thorvaldsen or Overbeck → the 'pilgrimage' to celebrated artists ... was part of the genius cult of the time. "
  12. ^ Joshua Gamson, Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America , 1994, p. 122.
  13. Silke Borgstedt: Der Musikstar , 2008, p. 36.
  14. The Independent, January 25, 2010, 100 Years of Movie Stars 1910–1929
  15. Horst O. Hermanni, Das Film ABC , Volume 5, 2011, p. 91.
  16. Ulrike Oppelt: Film and Propaganda in the First World War. P. 165 ( online )
  17. Ulrike Oppelt: Film and Propaganda in the First World War , p. 167.
  18. ^ Wilhelm von Sternburg, The History of the Germans , 2005, p. 213.
  19. Archived copy ( memento of the original from April 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Documentation Mozart Superstar - the first pop star in history , broadcast on April 5th, 2015 on arte . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  20. Silke Borgstedt: Der Musikstar , 2008, p. 41.
  21. ^ Werner Faulstich: Basic knowledge of public relations. 2000, p. 202.
  22. Hillel Italie: [The "King of Pop" loved and hated Elvis Presley.] In: Die Welt , June 26, 2009, accessed June 26, 2017.
  23. Child stars in football - FAZ report
  24. Forgotten child stars , one day
  25. Silke Borgstedt: Der Musikstar , 2008, p. 35.
  26. Katrin Keller, The Star and His Users , 2008, p. 120.
  27. Werner Faulstich, Helmut Korte: The Star: History, Reception, Meaning , 1997, p. 159 ff.
  28. Werner Faulstich, Helmut Korte: The Star: History, Reception, Meaning , 1997, p. 11.
  29. Inga Backen, Theory and Practice of Cinema Marketing , 2009, p. 79.
  30. Dirk Blothner: Film content and target groups , 2001, p. 21.
  31. ^ A b Étienne François, Hagen Schulze: German places of memory III. Volume 3, 2001, p. 211 ( online ).
  32. Detlef Siegfried: Sound of Revolte: Studies on the Cultural Revolution around 1968. 2008, p. 81 ( online ).