125 Years of Screen History Tell the Story of America

William J. Mann, award-winning author, Hollywood historian, and professor of popular culture

Presenter and Consultant to schools, clubs, businesses, historical societies, museums, cruise ships, and more

Hollywood history is American history. Since the early 20th century, American movies have shaped the nation and the world. They have both influenced and reflected how we think about ourselves and the world around us. From its earliest nickelodeon flickers, Hollywood has always revealed American thinking about sex, the role of women, race, masculinity, fame, celebrity, patriotism, prejudice, gender assumptions, capitalism, and so much more. By studying how these films were made, who made them, who starred in them, how they were marketed, and what sort of reception they received — as well as all the scandals they inspired — we can better understand ourselves and our world.

I offer in-person and virtual presentations on Hollywood history, incorporating the fun, juicy, scandalous moments (like the time Ingrid Bergman defied the Hollywood shamers and had a baby out of wedlock) as well as a reconsideration of why these stories still matter today (Gone With the Wind, as it turns out, is about so much more than just Scarlett and Rhett). In addition to talks and presentations, I offer consultation on using Hollywood film in curricula or exhibits. As history is the living, breathing story of all of us, I bring an intersectional understanding to the past, which means the history I present and explore includes all races, backgrounds, and genders.

William J. Mann is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando; Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn; Hello Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand; and many others.