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Double Jeopardy in Hollywood: Age and Gender in the Careers of Film Actors, 1926–1999

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Double Jeopardy in Hollywood: Age and Gender in the Careers of Film Actors, 1926–1999

Abstract

There have been few studies of the concept of double jeopardy as it pertains to the effects of gender and aging on occupational outcomes. This research examines the utility of this concept in the field of film acting, traditionally a gender-integrated occupation. The results confirm significant negative effects of being female and being older on the number of film roles received by actors and their average star presence. Moreover, the gendered effects of aging on the career opportunities of actors have diminished somewhat over time with respect to number of film roles but not with respect to star presence.
Sociological Forum, Vol. 19. No. 4, December 2004 fT 2004)
OOI: 10.]007/sU206-0(W-06q8-l
Double Jeopardy in Hollywood: Age and Gender
in the Careers of Film Actors, 1926-1999
Anne E. Lincoln'"^ and Michael Patrick
There have been few
siudies
ofthe concept af "dotihle jeopardy
" as
il pertains
to the effects of gender and
aging
on
occupational
outcomes.
This
research
examines the utility of this concept in the field of film
acting,
traditionally
a
gender-integrated
occupation.
The
results confirm significant negative effects
of heing female and being
older on the
number of fihn
roles received by actors
and their
average star
presence.
Moreover,
ihe
gendered
effects of
aging
on
the
career opporiunittes
of
actors
have diminished somewhat over time with
respect
to number of film
roles
but not
wilh respect
to
star
presence.
KEY WORDS: gender; uge; career; lilm; actor.
INTRODUCTION
Sociologists have explored ascriptive inequality in terms of life-
outcome disparities, but explanations of these outcomes and the mecha-
nisms that produce them have been limited (Reskin. 2()03). The effects
of such ascriptive characteristics as gender and race on occupational out-
comes have been well documented. However, the effects of other ascriptive
characteristics, such as age. on these same outcomes remain largely unex-
plored (Riley. 1987). One of lhe most important theoretical questions raised
by the research on ascriptive inequality involves the concept of "double
jeopardy." Specitteally. this eoncept asserts that devalued aseriptive charac-
teristics may interaet with one another with respect to certain outcomes:
for example, the effects of gender and race interact in such a way that
'Deparlmeni of Sociology, Rice University. MS-28.6100
S.
Miiin Slreel. Houston, Texas 99164.
^Department of SiK-iology. Washington Slate University, Pullmitn. Washington.
•'To whom correspondence should be addressed; e-maii: alincolntaViccedtL
611
,'1200-0611 ^)
O
2(XM
Springer Sdence+Biwinem Media. Inc.
612 Lincoln and Allen
African-American women earn less than one would expect from the com-
bined direct effects of gender and race (Collins. 1990; King, 1988). By ex-
tension, this coneept implies that other ascriptive characteristics, such as
gender and age. may interact with one another with respect to similar out-
comes.
For example, it has been argued that older women experience double
jeopardy to the extent that their health is worse than would be predicted
by the combined direct effects of gender and age (Chappell and Havens,
1980).
One occupation in which the issue of double jeopardy
has
been raised in
termsof the effects of gender and age on career outcomes
is
film
acting.
This
is ironic since film acting was one of the first high-income,, high-status oc-
cupations itl the United States to achieve high levels of gender integration,
due largely to the narrative demands for heterosexual romantic relation-
ships in most
films
(Bordwell
et
at..
1985). Indeed,
film
acting
was
one of the
few elite occupations in which women were often paid as much as men. For
example. 5 of the U) highest paid film stars in 1938 were women (Rosten.
1941:342). Despite these indieations of early gender equality in film acting,
some evidence suggests that gender inequalities currently exist in the pro-
fession that are inextricably bound up with the issue of aging. Celebrated
female stare, such as Meryl Streep. have complained that their eareers in
film are shorter than those of their female predecessors and that they are
paid much less than men (Dutka, 1990). These claims are bolstered by re-
cent research conducted by the Screen Actors Guild (1999) which found
that, at al! levels of acting, women appear as lead characters in fewer films
than men and earn half as much as their male counterparts. Other research
has found additional gender and age disparities in two measures of pro-
fessional achievement in the field—receipt of Academy Awards (Gilberg
and Hines,
2(XK):
Levy, 1990a; Markson and Taylor. 1993) and appearances
in the Quigley Motion Picture Herald poll of 'Top Money-Making Stars"
(Levy. 199(}b).
Although the
findings
of these studies are suggestive, these researchers
have not explicitly examined the concept of double jeopardy within lilm
acting. Indeed, an analysis of the careers of
film
actors provides a unique op-
portunity to investigate the eoncept of double jeopardy by disentangling the
direct and interactive effects of gender discrimination and age discrimina-
tion on career
outcomes.
Given the public nature offilm
aeting.
the available
archival data permit a longitudinal analysis of
actors"
careers over relatively
long periods of
time.
Moreover, these data permit us to eompare the careers
of actors over several decades. Consequently, we can obtain a rare longitu-
dinal perspective on the direct and interactive effects of gender and age on
the careers of film stars at different points in the history of the American
industry.
Age and Gender in the Careers of Rim Actors 613
A great deal of research has focused on inequality in the workplace.
but hardly any has focused on the joint effects of gender and age diseritni-
nation on the careers of those in elite professions. Indeed, there have been
very few longitudinal studies oi changes in ascriptive inequality in specific
professions. The study of an individual profession, such as film acting, al-
lows a detailed investigation of the gendered aspects of aging on differ-
ent occupational outcomes. Although acting is a highly specialized occu-
pation, such an analysis might have implications for the differential effects
of aging on the careers of women and men in any number of elite pro-
fessions that require a public presentation of
self,,
such as lawyers, televi-
sion journalists, business executives, public officials, and entertainers of all
kinds.
Ultimately, the results may suggest career trends in other oecupa-
tions,
regardless of their visibility (Morrow et
al..
1990). Last but not least,
some understanding of the gendered effects of aging in film acting is im-
portant because film actors serve as important role models (Herzog and
Gaines, 1991; Stacey. 1991), especially with respect to the appropriateness
of certain gender roles (Dyer, 1998; Signorielli, 1989; Wexman, 1993). As
Bielby and Bielby (1996:267) observe. "Mass culture industries are sites
where symbolic representations of gender are literally produced, and they
provide new challenges to the way we understand gender inequality in
organizations."
THEORETICAL ISSUES AND HISTORICAL CONTEXTS
Sociological investigations of inequality on the basis of ascribed char-
acteristics have proceeded in relative isolation from each other. This isola-
tion stems from an assumption that the causes of ascriptive inequality differ
for each attribute (Reskin. 2003). For example, the explanation for raeial
discrimination is often assumed to be different from the explanation for
discrimination on the basis of gender. Tlie resulting "balkanization" of the-
ories has hampered stratification research to the extent that the effects of
different aseriptive characteristics are studied in a sort of "soeial vacuum" to
the detriment of a broader theory of stratification. Tlie sociologies of aging
and gender have not been immune to this segmentation (Moen. 2001). As
a result, mainstream sociological theory has generally ignored the gendered
nature ofthe process of aging (Arber and Ginn. 1991). This iheoretical gap
persists despite increasing evidence in recent empirical research on gender
in the sociology of aging (McMuliin, 1995; Riley. 19S7) that the effects of
aging are not homogeneous with respect to gender. However, the theoreti-
cal complexity of combining these two attributes may be the reason that no
joint conceptual framework has been developed (Levy, 1988).
614 Lincoln and Allen
One attempt to account theoretically for the interactive effects of mul-
tiple ascriptive characteristics is the notion of "'double jeopardy," a concept
first introduced to describe the combined effects of sexism and racism on the
experiences of black women (King, 1988). Scholars have since hypothesized
a more general formulation in which gender and other
socia!
characteristics
such as race and social class operate simultaneously in a nonadditive manner
to affect various life outcomes. When these characteristics are devalued, the
proposition asserts that joint effects of two or more of the characteristics are
more deleterious than the sum of their separate effeets. To this end. it has
been argued that the interactive effects of gender and age represent a form
of double jeopardy (Chappell and Havens. 1980) that puts older women at a
greater disadvantage than their male counterparts in all aspects of life, rang-
ing from psychological problems to economic difficulties. Tlius far. however,
double jeopardy has remained a largely untested theoretical concept. Most
empirical studies have been cross-sectional, and the few longitudinal stud-
ies have yielded inconsistent empirical evidence (Ferraro and Farmer, 1996;
Markridgef/^/..
1984),
If lhe coneept of double jeopardy is valid, it would be particularly im-
portant with regard to the position of men and women in the economic
system. However, very few longitudinal studies have examined the differen-
tial effects of aging on the careers of men and women (Warren
et
al, 2002),
especially within a single occupation. Because of the public nature of their
careers, film actors are an ideal population to study empirically the inter-
section of gender and age in an elite occupation. Additionally, many studies
ignore gender differences in labor force participation or assume that the ca-
reers of men are continuous, while those of women are more sporadic due
to family requiremetits (Lorence and Mortimer. I9S9). In the acting profes-
sion, however, neither women nor men have continuous careers in the tradi-
tional sense. Acting careers consist of a series of separate film projects. Tlie
concept ofa sex-differentiated labor market, in which women have qualita-
tively different career patterns than men (Simpson
t^/«/..
1982),
is
simply not
applicable to actors. Moreover, unlike most other occupations, film acting
has historically been highly gender-integrated. Finally, archival information
permits a longitudinal examination of the effects of gender and aging on
actors' careers as well as a historical comparison of the ways the effects of
these variables have changed over the past several decades in response to
developments in the film industry and in American society.
The careers of actors have undoubtedly been affected by historical
changes in the organization of production within the film industry. The most
significant change has been the decline of the "studio system," which was the
dominant mode of
film
production from the late 1920s until the early 1950s.
Under this system, the major studios were vertically integrated, controlling
Age and Cender in the Careers of Film Artont 615
the production, the distribution, and. to
a
large extent, the exhibition of films
(Bordwell el
al.,
1985). Given the industrial logic of this system, both male
and female stars were typically placed under long-term contracts.
As a
result,
the studios had an incentive to invest In the careers of their
stars.
Indeed, stu-
dios often produced specific films, known in lhe industry as "star vehicles,"
for each of their major stars on a regular
basis.
Not surprisingly, then, women
comprised 50 percent of the top ten box office draws from 1932 to 1938. as
reported by exhibitors in the Top Ten Poll of Money-Making Stars (Quigley
Publications, 1994). While women starred in all film genres in the 193()s
and 1940s, they were typically cast in serious dramas and even more promi-
nently in musicals and romantic melodramas. So-called "women's films."
which portrayed strong heroines involved in melodramatic situations, were
also popular in the 1930s and 1940s (Balio. 1993). Conversely, men were
typically cast in Westerns and adventure films (Schatz, 1997).
The careers of both male and female stars were adversely affected by
the decline of the studio system al ter the paramount decision by the Supreme
Court in 194S. which forced the major studios to divest themselves of their
theaters. This event, coupled with the rise in competition for audiences from
television, led the studios to cancel their long-term contracts with stars. Be-
ginning in the
1950s,
almost all of the major talent involved in the production
of films was contracted for single projects (Faulkner and Anderson. 1987).
Studios no longer developed films for specific female
stars.
At the same time,
there was a shift in the types of
films
being produced in Hollywood. The ca-
reers of female stars may have been adversely affected by changes in the
audience and consequent changes in the popularity of different film gen-
res.
Musicals have declined in popularity in reeent decades, and "women's
film.s"
virtually disappeared in the 1950s. During the 1970s, roles for women
all but vanished with the arrival of the "buddy
film,"
which focused on "ma-
cho exploits and homoerotic bonds" (Ouart and Auster. 2002:109). Since
the 1970s, adventure films have become the most popular film genre (Levy,
1989).
These
films
typically have few, if
any,
significant parts for women. For
example, one of the first highly successful adventure films of this period,
Jaw.s
(1975). starred three men.
Recent studies of character portrayals in film and television have
demonstrated that male actors are more prevalent than female actors, espe-
cially in leading roles (Bazzini
et
al.,
1997:
Screen Actors Guild,
2002).
Otie
explanation of
this
pattern is that producers believe that a
film
with a female
star is unlikely to earn enough money to recoup its costs (Bielby and Bielby,
1996).
Similarly, studies of ageism in television have foutid that teievision
actors have beeome younger in the last two decades (Davis, 1980; Gerbner,
1998).
Research conducted by the Screen Actors Guild (1999) suggests a
double jeopardy effect for fetnaie actors, who experience aging differently
616
Lincoln
and
AIII-D
from male actors during the course of their careers. For example, although
43 percent of Americans are over the age of
40
(US, Bureau of the Census,
2000),
women over age 40 received only 24 percent of all female roles cast
in television and film, while men over age 40 received 37 percent of all male
roles.
The Screen Actors Guild (2002) also noted that obtaining roles in
feature films posed an even greater challenge for female actors over the
age of
40.
Clearly, the demand for actors diminishes as they age, especially
if they are women. In fact, the term "older" is now populariy being used
to describe male actors over the age of 40 and female actors over the age
of 30 (Michaelson. 19'-)3). Thus, the interaction between age and sex may
result in a "double standard about aging that denounces women with spe-
cial severity" (Sontag, 1979:464). Indeed, empirical research suggests that
gender and age discrimination in the film and television industries extends
even to screenwriters (Bielby and Bielby, 1992, 1993, 1996: Falk and Falk.
1997).
Some evidence also suggests that even the most successful lilm stars are
not immune to this double jeopardy effect. One source of systematic histori-
cal information is the Top Ten Poll of Money-Making Stars conducted every
year by the Motion
I'icture
Herald
(Quigley Publications.
1994).
ITie results
of this poll of theater owners indicate that women have significantly shorter
periods as top draws on box office charts than do men (Levy, 1989). While
26
men have had more than
5
years of commercial popularity as measured by
this poll, only
five
women have achieved that distinction (Levy, 1990b). Dis-
parities also exist in the peer recognition afforded by the Academy Awards.
Women are nominated for and win Oscars at a significantly younger age
than men (Gilberg and Hines,
2CXH):
Markson and Taylor, 1993). In fact,
youth was the most powerful criterion for women who won the Best Actress
award, while middle age was Ihe best predictor for male Best Actor winners
(Markson and Taylor, 1993). It appears that a sort of "revolving door" for
young female actors has developed, to the detriment of older female actors
(Jacobs. 1989). Tliis pattern is not entirely new. In his comparison of the
major film stars of the
1940s
with those of the
1930s.
Schatz (1997:363) notes
that "the ranks of top stars would be predominantly male, and female stars
would tend to be considerably younger than their male counterparts."
On the basis of these theoretical and empirical observations, this re-
search expects to find a pattern of "double jeopardy" for female actors in
the Hollywood film industry in comparison to male actors. This theoreti-
cal model is consistent with the findings of Bielby and Bielby (1992) with
respect to the effects of "cumulative disadvantage" within the film and tele-
vision industries. Both models assert that interactive effects between gender
and age systematically disadvantage older women. In general, we expect
that women will appear in fewer films than men and have fewer leading
Age and Gender in the Careers of Film Actors . 617
roles than men. We also expect that the disparity between male and female
actors will become more pronounced as a result of the differentia! effects of
aging. Moreover, because of the decline of the studio system and shifts in
the popularity of certain film genres, this disadvantage has probably become
even more pronounced overtime. In short, we anticipate that the process
of cumulative disadvantage has become marked in recent years, resulting in
more "durable" careers for male actors than for female actors (Levy, 1990b).
SAMPLE AND DATA
In order to assess these theoretical issues, this research examines in de-
tail the careers of a large sample of leading actors in Hollywood films over
a period of more than seven decades. A sample of
318
stars (168 men and
150 women) was compiled from a number of film reference publications, in-
cluding Screen
Worhl,
the Motion
Picture
Guide (Nash and Ross, 1999), the
Internet Movie Database (http://www.imdb.com). the American Film Insti-
tute list entitled "400 Greatest Actors." and two comprehensive directories
of film actors (Shipnian, 1989;Truitt.
1983).
These actors appeared in a total
of 14.922
film
roles between 1926 and
1999,
an average of 46.9
films
over the
course of their careers.
Because they are more popular and more prominent than other actors,
stars may be expected to have the greatest infiuence upon film audiences.
For the purposes of this research, actors were considered to be stars if they
were billed as one of the top two "leads" in at least six major films. Of the
318 actors in our sample,
73
percent qualified as "stars" in the first
5
years of
their careers. More lenient criteria would have included many less popular
and less inHuential actors. However, this sample purposely focuses on the
careers of stars
who,
by
virtue of their celebrity, enjoyed greater rewards and
autonomy than most actors. At the same time, we must note that not all of
the actors in this sample had long careers. Indeed, 14 of the 318 stars had
careers that spanned less than
15
years.
Tliis research focuses on those stars who appeared primarily in major
films, also called A-list films within the industry, that involve "top talent" in
all facets of production. These films involve the talents of the most accom-
plished actors, writers, and directors in the industry. In the
193()s.
major film
studios also produced a large number of B-list films that played in theaters
after A-list films in double features. Tiiese films were usually shorter than
A-list features, had much smaller budgets, and featured less accomplished
and celebrated talent. Today, the equivalent ofa B-list
film
is
the "straight-to-
video" film, which never achieves a major theatrical release. Therefore, ac-
tors who appeared primarily
in
B-list
films,
such
as
Gene Autry and Tom Mix,
618 Lincoln and Allen
were excluded from this study. In addition, because ihis research examines
only leading aclors. well-known supporting actors like Walter Brennan and
Agnes Moorehead were similarly excluded from the analysis.
The careers of many stars of silent iilms were truncated because they
were not able to make a successful transition to sound films. Indeed, the in-
troduction of sound
is a
major turning point in the history of
Him
production.
Tiie first "talkie."
The
Jazz
Singer,
was released in 1927. and within 2 years
every major American studio had converted to sound. Consequently, this
analysis focuses only on the careers of stars whose careers began after 1925.
just before the advent of the sound era. Furthermore, in order to study their
careers until they reached the age of
40.
we had to limit the analysis to those
stars whose careers covered a span of at least 25 years. Thus, actors like
Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, who died prematurely, are excluded from
the analysis. Correspondingly, actors whose first films were released after
1975 were not included in the analysis. In addition, this research
Is
limited to
actors who starred primarily in Ameriean films: thus, it excludes actors who
starred mainly in foreign films, such as Catherine Deneuve and Alec Guin-
ness.
However, foreign actors who appeared predominantly in American
iilms,
such as Anthony Hopkins and Sean Connery. are included.
We
compiled data on each
film
role
in
which each actor appeared during
the first 25 years of his or her careers, including ranking in the credits. Thus
we were able to trace the career trajectories of these actors, both in terms
of the number of film roles in which they appeared and their star billing in
those roles at each point in their
careers.
For the purposes of
this
analysis, the
careers of actors are assumed to begin with their first credited role in a film.
The number of films in which an actor appears over a period of time must be
interpreted with some caution. Certainly, popular actors are likely to make
more films than other actors. However, the opportunities are affected by
the number of
films
released each year. Stars who began their careers in the
1930s appeared in more films than contemporary stars simply because the
film industry produced more films then than it produces today. Moreover,
the number of film appearances per year does not tell us whether an actor
had a leading or supporting role in any given film. The relative ranking of
actors in the credits of
a
film
is
an important measure of their overall market
power and their importance in a given film. First billing typically goes to
the most popular actor, who characteristically plays the lead role in that
film. However, because star billing is ordinal, it is difficult to summarize the
importance of an actor over several films.
To
address
this
problem,
we
used the ordinal data
on
the
film
credit rank-
ings to create an interval measure of the "star presence" of each actor
in
each
film. This transformation was achieved using the "inverse-rank" function.
We can measure the "star presence" of an actor in a film by obtaining the
Age and Gender in Ihv Careers
of
Film Actors
'
i0Bf
inverse of their ordinal rank in the credits for that
film
as follows:
1
'
"^
=
.7
where
r,
is the rank of the actor among the acting credits for a film / and /?,
is the star presence of that actor in that film. TTie rationale for employing
the "'inverse-rank" function to transform ordinal data on star billing into
interval data on star presence is indirect. The relationship between rank and
magnitude has been observed in a number of different empirical contexts.
For example, when scientists are ranked in terms of the number of citations
to their work, the second-ranked scientist typically receives one-half of the
citations received by the first-ranked scientist, and the third-ranked scien-
tist usually receives one-third of the citations received by the first-ranked
scientist. This relationship between magnitude and rank order, which was
proposed independently by Pareto and Zipf (Price. 1976), has also been
found to describe the distributions of
cities,
words, incomes, and
firms.
Sep-
arate analyses, which are not presented forsake of brevity, indicate that star
presence scores of major stars in 1938 were positively correlated with their
incomes and with the number of articles published about them in general-
interest periodicals.
In the context of this research, the application of the power function
provides a simple and meaningful transformation of star ranking into star
presence in a given film. An advantage of this measure is that star presence
can be averaged over
a
number of
roles.
An actor who appeared in Iwo films
might get second billing in one and third billing in the other in the same
year. Using the power rule, we can transform these ordinal rank data into
the following interval data:
Pi = ^= 0.5(K) and
P2
= \ = 0.333
These star presence scores can then be averaged: an actor who received
second billing in one
film
and third billing in another in the same year would
have an average star presence of 0.417 for that year. If that same actor had
received top billing
in
both
films,
his
or her average star presence for that year
would have been 1.00. The value of this measure ranges from a theoretical
minimum that approaches 0 to a maximum of
1.
The average star presence
measure also has the advantage of being mathematically independent of the
number of film roles received by an actor.
We can demonstrate the utility of these two measures of the career
trajectory of a film star by a simple example. Figure
1
presents a graph of
the first lOyearsof the career of Bette Davis, from 1931 to
1940,
in terms of
both the number of film roles she received each year and her average star
620
Number of Films
Average Star Presence
Lincoln and /Vll«n
1.0
0.0
T
I I I I T I I
3!
32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
Year
Fig. I. Number of films and average star presence of Betle Davis. 1931-1940.
presence each year. In
1931,
she appeared in three
films
and was billed iliird,
fifth, and seventh, resulting In an average star presence score of 0.225 for
thai year. In contrast, of the tour
films
she appeared in during
1939,
she was
ranked first in three and second in one, resulting in an average star presence
score of
0.875
for that year. A comparison of these two measures gives two
different views of a career. In the first 5 years of her career. Bette Davis
appeared in an average of 5.4 films per year, but her average star presence
score
was
0.563.
In the next
5
years of her career, she appeared in an average
of only 3.2 films per year but her average star presence score was 0.9f){) oul
ofa possible 1.0. Although beginning to appear in fewer films, Bette Davis
was becoming a bigger star.
No study has examined virtually the entire eareers of actors in this man-
ner.
The only comparable research
is a
study conducted by Levy (1989) of the
10 most popular stars each year as identified by the Motion Picture Herald
Poll of exhibitors. However, because only
129
stars have been identified by
this poll in its 65-year history. Levy was not able to draw many conclusions
regarding the combined effects of gender and age on the careers of film stars
in general. Similarly, other research has examined the age at which actors
achieve certain honors, such as receiving an Academy Award nomination
(Gilberg and Hines, 2tHK); Levy. 1990a; Markson and Taylor. 1993). Con-
sequently, these studies focus only on the peer recognition or commercial
success that some actors achieve at some point and do not consider their
Age and Gender in Ihe Careers or Rim Ai-lurs 621
entire
careers.
However, these studies suggest that measures of achievement
may be important in analyzing the careers of
film
stars.
The present analysis examines the effect of several independent vari-
ables on the number of film roles and star presence accorded actors during
their
careers.
To
test assertions of double jeopardy, the gender and age of the
actors are certainly the primary predictors. In order to avoid introducing a
bias into the age variable, in the case of child stars, the analysis includes only
the
film
roles they received after they turned
16.
In addition,
findings
from the
studies of professional achievement of actors mentioned above prompted
the tabulation of the cumulative number of Academy Award nominations,
if any, that actors had received at each point in their careers. We should
also note that, until relatively recently, very few stars have been members
of racial or ethnic minority groups. Consequently, no such comparisons are
possible in this analysis.
RESULTS
The theory being proposed argues that age has a differential effect on
the careers of male and female stars. However, a cursory examination of the
data reveals that their careers were also affected by historical trends in the
film industry. The number of feature films produced by the American film
industry declined steeply during World War II. Moreover, after the advent
of television and the divestiture of theaters by the major studios following
the Paramount decision in
1948.
the film industry never regained its former
production levels, which diminished the careers of film actors. In the time
period from 1926 to 1942, the film stars in the sample reeeived an average
of 2.97
fiJm
roles each year, but between 1943 and 1999 they received only
1.22 film roles each year. The correlation between a dummy variable repre-
senting the post-1942 time period and the number of film roles received by
stars each year is -0.418. Consequently, the following analyses include two
dummy variables, one representing female actors and another represent-
ing the post-1942 time period. This research employs multivariate statistical
techniques to disentangle the effects of
age,
gender, and time period on the
careers of actors. Specifically, the pooled time-series data can be analyzed
using generalized least-squares regression techniques (Kmenta.
19S6).
This
technique corrects for the serial correlation between the errors of prediction
overtime, a common problem in regression analyses of time-series data.
The results of three regression models for number of
film
roles each year
are presented in Table I. Model I examines the main effects of
age,
gender,
time period, and the cumulative number of Academy Award nominations
on the number of film roles received by an actor each year. As expected.
622
Table I. (icncrnli/fd
tJncoln and Atlcn
tf asi-Squares Analysis of Ihc F-ffeclsol Age, Cicndcr. lime Period, and
Oscar NtHiiinalions
<in
NumlKr uf
f-11ni
Roles
Independent variables
Age
Gender (female - 1)
Oscar nominations
Time period
(posl-1942= 1)
Gender x age
Gender x Time period
Age X Time period
Gender x Age x
Time period
Constant
P
N
Motit
-0.0370*"
-0.7216"'
0.0846'"
-1.3904"'
4.3037"'
0.377
0.143
rl t
(0.0023)
(0.0654)
(0.0175)
(0.0508)
(0.0908)
7950
Model 2
-0.0577"'
(O.(X)58)
0.1389 (0.1526)
0.0849"' (0.0173)
-2.9434"' (0.2018)
-0.0334"' (O.O(MI)
0.7374"'(0.1071)
0.03S8'" (0.0055)
5.0937"' (0.2030)
0.405
0.1377950
Model
-0.0548'"
0.9672
0.0853'"
-2.8379*"
-0.0414"'
0.4800
0.0357"'
0.0086
4.9985"'
0.404
0.1.16
7950
3
(0.0069)
(0.3519)
(0.0173)
(0.2472)
(0.0115)
(0..1629)
(0.0069)
(0.0115)
(0.2399)
"'p < O.OOl.
age.
being female, and the post-1942 time period have significant negative
effects on that number. Conversely, the cumulative number of Academy
Award nominations received by an actor has a positive effect on the num-
ber of film roles received. Model
2
examines the main effects of these same
variables, as well as the interaction effects between age. gender, and time
period on the number of film roles received by stars. The effects of
all
three
interactions between age, gender, and time period on the number of film
roles are significant, but only the interaction between gender and age is in
the expected direction. Model
3
examines the main effects of these variables,
their two-way interactions, and the three-way interaction between age. gen-
der, and time period on the number of film roles received by each star. The
three-way interaction term is not statistically significant.
We can use these same techniques to disentangle the effects of the in-
dividual characteristics of actors on their average star presence each year.
The results of three models are presented in Table II. As before. Model 1
examines the main effects of age, gender, lime period, and the cumulative
number of Academy Award nominations on the average star presence of an
actor. As expected, age, being female, and the post-1942 time period have
significant negative effects
on
the average star presence of an actor each year,
while the cumulative number of Aeademy Award nominations received has
a positive effect on the performer's average star presence. Model 2 exam-
ines the main effects of these same
variables,
as well as the interaction effects
between age, gender, and time period on average star presence. The effects
of all three interactions between age. gender, and time period on average
star presence are significant and negative. Model 3 examines the main ef-
fects of these variables, their two-way interaction effects, and the three-way
Age and Gender in the Careers of Film Actors623
Table II. Generalized Lcasi-Squares Analysis of the Effects of Age, Gender. Ttme Period, and
Oscar Nominiilions on Average Slur Presence
Independent variablesMuUcl I Model 2 Mtjdel 3
Age
Gender (female = 1)
Osear nominations
Time period
(pasl-1942 = l)
Gender x Age
Gender x Time period
Age
X
Time period
Gender x Age x
Time period
Constant
P
N
-0.0035"*
(0.0006)
-0.1632'"
(0.0164)
0.0554"' (0.0047)
-0.0881"'(0.0141)
0.6845'" (0.0247)
7950
0.0151"*
(0.0016)
0.4(X)r"
(0.041S)
0.0628"* (O.(XM7)
0.4090"' (0.0561)
-0.0129"*
(O.OOll)
0.1041"*
(0.0296)
-0.0143""
(0.0015)
0.0112 (0.0560)
0.224
0.1107451)
0.0119*" (0.0019)
0.1297 (0.0973)
O.(t622*" (0.0047)
0.287r"
(0.0687)
-O.t)037 ((1.0032)
0.1933
(O.IOIO)
-0.0107"'
(0.0019)
-0.0099"
(0.0032)
0.1197 (0.0662)
0.231
0.1
II7950
••/»< 0.01; *"p<
0.001.
interaction between age. gender, and time period on average star presence.
As expected. Ihc interaction effect of
age,
gender, and time period on aver-
age star presence is signifieant and negative.
In general, a comparison of the multivariate statistieal analyses pre-
sented
in
Tables
I
and II reveals both similarities and differenees in the effects
of age, gender, and time period on the number of film roles received by an
actor and on the average star presence of
an
aetor. Being female, being older,
and working in the post-1942 time period clearly have significanl. negative
main effects on the eareers of
actors.
Moreover. Model
2
shows a significant
interaction effect between gender and age with respect to both number of
films and average star presence. This initially suggests that older female ac-
tors are subjeeted to the "double jeopardy" effects of age and gender and
disadvantaged. both in termsof number of film roles and in termsof average
star presence, compared to older male actors. However, differences between
the tables in the three-way interaction effect of
age.
gender, and time period
point to a more complex relationship. This variable is either not significant,
with regard to number of film roles, or negative and significant, with regard
to average star presence. This finding warrants more careful scrutiny.
Clearly, the results ofthe regression models presented in Tables
1
and II
are very difficult to interpret due to the inclusion of several interaction terms.
It is difficult to trace the effects of each of the independent variables on the
dependent variable because the interpretation of the constituent variables
changes with the inclusion of each additional interaction term. For example,
age has a main effect on the number of film roles and star presenee of an
actor, but it also has interaetion effects on these variables resulting from
its first-order interactions with both gender and time period separately and
624Lincoln and Allen
its second-order interaction with gender and time period conjointly. As a
result, the coefficients of the interaetion variables estimate conditional rela-
tionships. It is entirely possible for the main effects of the independent vari-
ables on a dependent variable to be nonsignificant at this level. Tlierefore.
the total effect of age on the number of film roles received by an actor must
be calculated from the additive eifects of four variables.
Perhaps the best way to simplify the interpretation of these models is
to graph the expected values of the dependent variables derived from these
multivariate statistical models for the different values of the independent
variables. The resulting graphs illustrate the cumulative effects of age for
both male and female stars on each dependent variable during the period
from 1926 to 1942 and the period from 1943 to 1999. Figure 2 graphs the
relationship between age and the number of
film
toles received each year by
male and female actors for both time periods. Stars in the period between
1926 and 1942 obviously received more film roles when they were younger
than they did in the period between
1943
and
1999.
Tliis
is
attributable to the
fact that the American film industry produced more
films
each year prior to
1943
than it did afterward. Note also that the numberoffilm roles that actors
received declined as they aged in both time periods and that this decline is
2-
1-
Men (1926-42)
Men (1943-99)
Women (1926-42)
Women (1943-99)
^ I I 1 I 1 I 1 r t I
20 22 24 26 28 30 }2 34 36 38 40 42 44
Age
Fig. 2. Expected number ol' (Jlms by men and women slars with one Academy
Award nomin;Uion by age and time period.
Age and Gender in the Careers uf Film Actnrs625
mueh more precipitous for female star^ than it is for male stars in both time
periods. In terms of the number of
film
roles received each year, female stars
in the time period from 1926 to 1942 were at a substantial disadvantage in
comparison to male stars when they were young, and this disparity increased
dramatically as they grew older. Conversely, during the lime period from
1943 to 1999. female stars were not especially disadvantaged in comparison
to male stars when they were young, but they became progressively more
disadvantaged as they aged.
A similar graph of the relationship between age and average star pres-
ence for both male and female stars during both time periods is presented
in Fig. 3. The gender differences between actors, in terms of their average
star presence, are relatively small when they are young in both time periods.
Recall that average star presence is not necessarily related to the number
of film roles received each year. During the time period between 1926 and
1942.
the difference between male and female stars in terms of their average
star presence remained relatively small as they aged. Female stars lost their
small advantage over rnale stars, but the average star presenee of both sexes
inereased as they grew older. In contrast, the relationship between age and
average star presence is much different for stars in the period from 1943 to
1.0.
0.8-
0.6-
0.2-
0.0
Men (1926-42)
Men (1943-99)
Women (1926-42)
Women (1943-99)
J
I I 1 I I I I I I I
20 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 36 38 40 42 44
Fig. 3. Expected star presenee for men and women stars with one Academy Award
nomination by age and time period.
626 Lincoln und Allen
1999.
Once again, female stars had a small advantage over male stars when
they were young, but they became increasingly disadvantaged as they aged.
Male stars were able to maintain their average star presenee as they grew
older, while the average star presence of women deelined precipitously.
CONCLUSIONS
This researeh has examined the theoretical utility and empirical validity
ofthe eoncept of "double jeopardy" with respect to gender and age as it per-
tains to the eareers of film actors. In many respects, this occupation is ideally
suited for sueh an analysis because of the wealth of detailed longitudinal
data on the careers ofa relatively large number of actors over the past sev-
eral
decades.
At the same time, our analysis reveals the inherent complexity
of any analysis of this issue. The concept of "double jeopardy" implies that
significant interaction effects exist between gender and age with respect to
occupational outcomes in addition to their main effects. This analysis re-
veals that actors reeeive fewer film roles and have less star presenee as they
grow older. It also reveals that wotnen receive fewer roles and have less star
presence than men. These differences persist even after controlling for the
cumulative number of Academy Award nominations they have received at
each point in their careers. We also find consistent empirical evidence of a
"double jeopardy" effeet inasmuch
as
the disparity between men and women
with respect to
film
roles and star presence increases with age. However, the
effects of this dotible jeopardy have apparently diminished somewhat since
1943 with respect to number of film roles, even though they have remained
relatively constant with respect to average star presence.
In general, these results lend some credence to the concerns raised by
female stars like Meryl Streep, albeit with some qualifications. Despite the
relatively stable career trajectories experienced by most contemporary stars,
aging clearly has a gendered impact upon their careers. Female stars appear
in significantly fewer films and have a lower average star presence than
male stars. Moreover, women are subject to "double jeopardy" inasmuch
as the disparities in the number of film roles and the average star presence
of male and female stars inerease as they age. However, it does appear that
the "double jeopardy" effects of age and gender on the number of film
roles received by an actor have become less pronounced in reeent decades.
Conversely, the "double jeopardy" effects of
age
and gender on the average
star presence of actors have not changed appreciably overtime. Altogether,
these results suggest a relatively stable pattern over the past several decades
in which female stars have more modest careers than their male eounterparts
and that this gap increases as they age.
Age and Gender in the Careers of (lira Actors -
These results also suggest
a
number of alternative explanations for these
observed differences in the careers of male and female
film
stars. One
is
that
these differences reflect the preferences of film producers. Another is that
(ilm producers are simply acting in accordance with their beliefs about the
composition and preferenees of film audiences. Although the film industry
did not conduct systematic research on its audience until 1945. the implicit
assumption of producers prior to that time was that the composition of the
film audience mirrored the composition of the population. However, with
the introduction of audience research, producers discovered that, largely as
the result of lhe growth of television, the film audience was much younger
ihan the population. Many producers stiH hold this belief despite recent
research indicating that the film audience has become older in recent years.
Specifically, the shate of the film audience between ages
16
and 24 dropped
from roughly 50% in 1968 to
33%
in 1989 (Kramer. 1999:99). It has since
dropped to 29% (Motion Picture Assoeiation, 2()02:6). Moreover, contrary
to the conventional wisdom of mtist producers, men and women attend films
in roughly the same numbers and have done so consistently for decades.
Consequently, the differences
in
the careers of male and female actors cannot
be attributed to lhe gender composition of the film audience.
Why. then, do female performers age differently than male stars? At-
tractiveness, particularly toa male audience, may be one reason. Levy (1989)
found that one-quarter of the popular female stars identified in the Motion
Picture Herald Poll were models prior to beginning their acting careers,
whereas none of the men had been models. Further, in his assessment, "the
vast majority of women could be described as attractive, often extremely
beautiful: by contrast, about half the male stars have not been handsome by
any convention" (Levy, 199()b:25()). These findings provide support for the
assertion by Sontag (1979:473) that ''a woman's fortunes depend, far more
than a man's, on being at least 'acceptable' looking."
ITie importanee placed on the physieal appearance of women is hardly
limited to film acting. For example, researchers (e.g.. Deutsch et
al..
1986)
have found that, although the perceived attractiveness of both men and
women decreases with age. evaluations of the femininity of women de-
crease, while evaluations of the masculinity of men are unaffected by age.
More generally, researchers (Kite et al.. 1991) have diseovered that older
women are rated as less feminine than younger women. Thus, despite ev-
idence that men and women undergo similar psychological experiences as
they age (Govc
e(
al..
1989). the physical processes of aging may affect them
differently. These processes have implications for the careers of both men
and women, given that attractiveness has been found to positively affect the
promotion decisions of personnel professionals (Morrow <'/«/.,
1990).
Thus,
there is every reason to believe that the effects of declining youth on the
628 l.ineoln and Alien
career opportunities of women may not be restricted to the acting profes-
sion. Women in professions that require a public presentation of
self,
such
as law (Saporta and Halpern. 2(K)2) or business, may suffer these effects to
some extent. Indeed, the negative interaction effect of being a woman and
being older
is
consistent with the concept of
a
"glass ceiling" with respeet to
managerial promotions (Maume. 1999).
These
findings
also have implications that go far beyond the differences
between the careers of men and women in a high-status and high-income oc-
cupation. As noted at the outset, stars exert a pervasive infiuence on society
as cultural role models. 'Ilie very fact that most of the characters in
films
are
men rather than women amounts to an "explicit devaluation of female talent
on screen" (Bielby and Bielby. 1996:251) and an implicit cultural devalua-
tion of
women.
This cultural devaluation of women is reinforced by the tact
that they do not receive star billing as often as men. In short, films tell audi-
ences that men are more important, in all kinds of
contexts,
than women. In
addition, stars provide audiences with idealized images of masculinity and
femininity. The problem, of
course,
is
that men are allowed to age in
film,
and
women are not. Male stars in their sixties are routinely cast as leads, even in
physically demanding roles. Conversely, female stars are rarely cast as leads
after they enter their forties. One eonsequenee of
this
discrimination against
older women is that male stars are often paired romantically with younger,
often much younger, female stars. Unfortunately, the differentia! represen-
tation of men and women in film and television probably contributes to the
cultural devaluation of older women in American society.
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Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press.
... Project risk inhered in the industry's reliance on social networks, social capital, and the associated elements of reputation and status effectively bar women from achieving senior project management positions (D. D. Bielby & Bielby, 2002;Grugulis & Stoyanova, 2012;Lincoln & Allen, 2004). Due to the presence of homophily, women have less access to influential social networks with valuable social capital and therefore are at a distinct disadvantage in Hollywood (Lutter, 2015). ...
... D. Bielby, 2009;D. D. Bielby & Bielby, 2002;Lincoln & Allen, 2004). ...
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We depict Hollywood celebrity couples as business families who participate in the project-based movie production industry, which is a temporary and disaggregated form of organization where skilled individuals are linked to one another through contractual and social relationships. Appearing in Hollywood movies generates celebrity capital, which can be converted into economic capital through involvement in endorsements and other rent-generating activities. Finding projects is facilitated by membership in high-quality social networks, and we consider celebrity marriage as a means of merging two individuals’ social networks, which can be mutually beneficial for both parties. We develop and test three hypotheses about the quality of social networks prior to and after marriage and analyze their impact upon celebrities’ postmarriage career performance. We contribute to the family business literature by exploring hybridized and adaptive forms of business family in contemporary project industries, which has the potential to enlarge family business scholars’ research horizons.
... Similarly, the persistence of gender inequalities in project-based labor markets is well established (Lincoln & Allen, 2004). In the Hollywood movie industry females are subject to double jeopardy based on their gender and age, and are foremost amongst others in fostering exclusion and premature career failure (Lincoln & Allen, 2004). ...
... Similarly, the persistence of gender inequalities in project-based labor markets is well established (Lincoln & Allen, 2004). In the Hollywood movie industry females are subject to double jeopardy based on their gender and age, and are foremost amongst others in fostering exclusion and premature career failure (Lincoln & Allen, 2004). In the context of organizational career promotion Burt (1998: 13) suggests that women 'pose a puzzle' for the theory of brokerage forms of social capital because 'the entrepreneurial networks of men that are connected to early promotion do not work for women' and with respect to early promotion 'women do better with a small network of interconnected contacts'. ...