“star” in the entertainment context
Posted: 16 December 2013 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I don’t know if this is new, or interesting to anyone other than me, but I came across a definition of a “star” in the entertainment context:

[an answer to a correspondent in Philadelphia:] A “star” is an actor or actress who plays brief engagements at theatres throughout the country, receiving a certain share of the gross receipts of each night’s performance.  New York Clipper September 7, 1867

I don’t know how seriously to take this claim, but it does make a certain sense.  The Clipper was a major entertainment newspaper, though I am reading it for its early baseball coverage.

Richard Hershberger

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Posted: 17 December 2013 04:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It’s not the earliest citation of the term, and the definition seems a bit limited.

The first cite in the OED is:

1824 Compl. Hist. Murder Mr. Weare 219 Carter [...] was at a loss for a star in the pugilistic hemisphere to produce him a crowded house.

There is also this earlier one, that nicely shows the metaphoric development of the term:

[1779 J. Warner in J. H. Jesse G. Selwyn & his Contemp. (1844) IV. 30 The little stars, who hid their diminished rays in his [Garrick’s] presence, begin to abuse him.]

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