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The Cinderella Makeover: Glamour Girl, Television Misery Shows, and 1950s Femininity

  • Marsha F. Cassidy

Abstract

In July 1953, Long Before the Word “makeover” officially entered the American lexicon, the misery show Glamour Girl debuted on the NBC television network. Praised at the time for turning “ducklings into swans” and polishing up “diamonds in the rough,”1 Glamour Girl was the country’s first nationally broadcast daytime program that celebrated the beautification of women in a dramatic before-and-after format. The case study of this historically significant but rarely discussed program throws light on the gendered place of women in postwar America. Glamour Girl’s Cinderella storylines openly fostered the nation’s emergent standards for American femininity—standards that required both a woman’s realignment with traditional family roles and an artful and more opulent redesign of her physical appearance.2 Yet because Glamour Girl followed the discursive arc of a “misery show,” contestants’ on-air explanations about why they desired a makeover also disclosed the social terms of their unhappiness. Taken together, these confessions implicitly served to underscore the gendered constraints of 1950s America and added a measure of rebellion to the makeover act.

Keywords

Soap Opera Human Misery Traditional Family Role Inspirational Story National Broadcasting Company 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Karal Ann Marling, As Seen on TV: The Visual Culture of Everyday Life in the 1950s ( Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994 ), p. 15.Google Scholar
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    Michele Humes, Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922–1952 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997), pp. 52, 148–149.Google Scholar
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    Steven C. Runyon, “San Francisco’s First Television Station: KPIX,” in Television in America: Local Station History from Across the Nation, ed. Michael D. Murray and Donald G. Godfrey, 364–365 ( Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1997 ).Google Scholar
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    David Weinstein, “Women’s Shows and the Selling of Television to Washington, DC,” Washington History 11, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 1999): 17–19.Google Scholar
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    See Marsha Cassidy, What Women Watched: Daytime Television in the 1950s (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2005), chapter 5.Google Scholar
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    Mimi White, Tele Advising: Therapeutic Discourse in American Television (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), see pp. 8, 10, 67, 181.Google Scholar
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    Denise Mann, “The Spectacularization of Everyday Life: Recycling Hollywood Stars and Fans in Early Television Variety Shows,” in Private Screenings: Television and the Female Consumer, ed. Lynn Spigel and Denise Mann (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992 ), p. 47.Google Scholar
  9. 82.
    Thomas Elsaesser, “Tales of Sound and Fury: Observations on the Family Melodrama,” in Imitations of Life: A Reader on Film and Television Melodrama, ed. Marcia Landy (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991 ), pp. 88–89.Google Scholar
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    Gloria Jean Masciarotte, “C’mon, Girl: Oprah Winfrey and the Discourse of Feminine Talk,” Genders 11 (1991): 83.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dana Heller 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marsha F. Cassidy

There are no affiliations available

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