16. Hollywood, California drew tourists to admire the homes of movie stars
Films of the silent era created a new type of celebrity, the movie star. Up until the arrival of film, actors and actresses were generally regarded dimly in the United States. Acting, especially for women, as a profession carried the taint of amorality, especially across the American South and Midwest. New England, with its long history of Puritanism, largely frowned on actors and the theater as well. Motion pictures began to change attitudes towards the profession in the 1920s. Movie stars such as Clara Bow, Lillian Gish, Charles Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, Douglas Fairbanks, Laurel and Hardy, and scores of others became national and, in some cases, international celebrities.
Tourists in 1921 and throughout the ensuing decade (and the years since) began to flock to Southern California to visit Hollywood. Motivated by the desire to see the flickering images on the silver screen in person, they purchased maps which marked the locations of their idols’ homes. Guided tours of areas where the stars lived, as well as of the studios in which they worked, emerged, popular among film fans. The great Hollywood sign did not exist in 1921, but the area already served as a magnet for a star struck tourist, as well as for aspiring actors and actresses. California’s welcoming climate and other attractions led many to stay there.