Stars in the aisles: cinema usherettes, identity and ideology

Eva Balogh

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This article examines the significant contribution of the cinema usherette to the pleasure of cinema-going, particularly during the 1930s-1950s. Through analyses of oral history interviews undertaken with former cinema usherettes, archival research, personal and official photographs and related epiphenomena, this paper will show how the presence of the cinema usherette functioned as an ideologically charged mediator between the cinema audience and broader discourses of desire, femininity and identity in primarily British cinemas. This examination will also illustrate how this has shaped the now familiar image of the cinema usherette as an erotically charged female figure, which can now be seen in popular cultural representations. And finally, it will explore the somewhat unusual position that the usherette occupied as an audience within an audience, revealing insights from which to consider potential new discussions in the field of audience studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-48
Number of pages27
JournalParticipations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • cinema
  • historical narratives
  • Audiences
  • Women's history
  • glamour
  • Hollywood


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