chapter  4
Pull Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps
Personal Failure and the Great Depression
Pages 27

Stars on exotic vacations, wearing opulent evening attire at movie premieres or at famous nightspots became commonplace, as were photos of celebrities frolicking on the beach. The glamour of movie premiers and nightclubs, the palatial estates and lives of leisure the celebrities supposedly led all helped perpetuate the fantasy of abundance in the face of scarcity and stubbornly high unemployment. Executives like Louis B. Mayer, Sam Goldwyn, and Adolph Zukor were themselves immigrants who had experienced dramatic upward mobility in the movie industry. The Depression certainly challenged the underpinnings of the American Dream and threatened to dismantle it altogether. Besides publishing tales of massive wealth, fan magazine articles and advertisements came with warnings about personal failure. Financial worries can be a major source of stress in any relationship, and the Depression served as another threat to early-twentieth-century marriages. Divorce was still rare but nearly doubled between 1920 and 1930.