During the Golden Age of
In 1935 the emergence of the “talent scout system” came into being. This meant that undiscovered talent from outside of the studio had a chance to be discovered by a talent scout who would then represent his client to the studios in the hope of obtaining a contract.
In an effort to find this undiscovered talent, these scouts would constantly monitor Broadway, vaudeville, and radio. On occasion, they would randomly discover a potential star out in the general public based on their style, first impression, or simply good looks. A perfect example of this is
Performance contracts within the studio system were very strict, and encroached on the social life of an actor or actress. Many allowable social activities were scheduled by the studio as a promotional technique to bring their stars more press and attention. This, in effect, meant that the star was now the property of the studio and that many aspects of their personal lives were under the complete control of the industry.
Most of the star contracts during this period were seven years long, with a six month option for contract players. Should the star prove to not be as popular as the studio had wanted and not generating enough of a profit at the box office within six months, the studio could revoke the contract. However, if they did well, they could be given a higher salary until the option period of their next contract.
These contracts gave the studios complete control over the actors, including the right to make the actor accept any role chosen by the studio whether the actor was interested in the role or not. These contracts also provided the studio the right to loan, and receive a fee or other mutually agreed upon arrangement, their stars to other studios with or without the stars consent.
Due to the restrictive nature and enforcement of these contracts, many stars often found themselves playing roles that they did not want, or were just opposed to. It could be a tough trade-off; and ultimately, in order to be a contract star during this era you had to accept the fact that you, the actor, had no control over your career and were at the mercy of the studio.
Source by Carl DiNello