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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph's WHO WERE THE TOP TEN BOX OFFICE STARS OF THE 1930S?






It was 1915 when Martin J. Quigley, a twenty-five year old drama critic for a major Chicago newspaper, first developed his passion for motion pictures, after seeing Birth of a Nation at the D.W. Griffith's Theatre.  His passion grew so strong for this new media that he quit his job to open a publishing company dedicated specifically to the film industry.  By 1928 he was publishing a weekly newspaper called Exhibitors Herald, along with the annual publication, which is still going strong today called The International Motion Picture Almanac. Within four years, Martin J. Quigley had acquired two other major film industry weeklies.  

I have had the opportunity to see only two of these early almanacs owned by a former neighbor in California. Every since, I have daydreamed about what it would be like to own the entire set, because it contains biographies of  everyone who has ever been important to the industry.  Each year's edition lists thousands of company listings, credits for films of the past ten years, all sorts of statistics, award lists, and so much more about the industry, such as production, distribution, and exhibition.

It was in 1932 that the "Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll" first appeared in The International Motion Picture Almanac. Because this annual publication contained 400 pages of biographies and 500 pages of reference material, it was considered to be "The Bible" by all those in the film industry.

Movie theater owners were polled to name the previous year's top ten money making stars that they felt brought in the most patrons to their theaters.  This list was what those in the industry turned to see which actors and actresses were truly box office gold.  In additon to listing the Top Ten Box Office Stars, it was Quigley's Publishing Company's common practice to list the next fifteen stars, making a total of twenty-five stars listed.  At Classically Speaking, you can read the lists for the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

Each photograph show represents the number one money making star at the box office for the previous year.  So, when you read 1932's list, Marie Dressler is the number one star that movie theater owners voted as the star that brought the most money into their theaters in 1931. So, you will see years 1932-1940 listed here to cover the 1930s.





1932 - MARIE DRESSLER #1

(1) Marie Dressler
(2) Janet Gaynor
(3) Joan Crawford
(4) Charles Farrell
(5) Greta Garbo
(6) Norma Shearer
(7) Wallace Beery
(8) Clark Gable
(9) Will Rogers
(10) Joe E. Brown

(11) The Marx Brothers and Wheeler and Woolsey (tied)
(12) Eddie Cantor (13) Maurice Chevalier
(14) Constance Bennett (15) George Arliss
(16) James Dunn (17) Sally Eilers (18) Marlene Dietrich
(19) Lionel Barrymore (20) Jackie Cooper
(21) Barbara Stanwyck (22) Edward G. Robinson
(23) George O'Brien (24) Warner Baxter (25) Richard Dix



1933 - MARIE DRESSLER #1

(1) Marie Dressler
(2) Will Rogers
(3) Janet Gaynor
(4) Eddie Cantor
(5) Wallace Beery
(6) Jean Harlow
(7) Clark Gable
(8) Mae West
(9) Norma Shearer
(10) Joan Crawford

(11) Joe E. Brown (12) Lionel Barrymore (13) The Marx Brothers
(14) Bing Crosby (15) Wheeler and Woolsey
(16) Edward G. Robinson (17) Slim Summerville
(18) Zasu Pitts (19) Maurice Chavalier
(20) Fredric March and Robert Montgomery (tied)
(21) Helen Hayes (22) Warner Baxter (23) George Arliss
(24) James Cagney (25) Lee Tracy



1934 - WILL ROGERS #1

(1) Will Rogers
(2) Clark Gable
(3) Janet Gaynor
(4) Wallace Beery
(5) Mae West
(6) Joan Crawford
(7) Bing Crosby
(8) Shirley Temple
(9) Marie Dressler
(10) Norma Shearer

(11) Katharine Hepburn (12) Joe E. Brown (13) Claudette Colbert
(14) Jean Harlow (15) Eddie Cantor (16) Dick Powell
(17) George Arliss (18) Warner Baxter (19) Wheeler and Woolsey
(20) James Cagney (21) Lionel Barrymore (22) Marion Davies
(23) Buck Jones (24) Fredric March (25) Kay Francis



1935 - SHIRLEY TEMPLE #1

(1) Shirley Temple
(2) Will Rogers
(3) Clark Gable
(4) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
(5) Joan Crawford
(6) Claudette Colbert
(7) Dick Powell
(8) Wallace Beery
(9) Joe E. Brown
(10) James Cagney

(11) Mae West (12) Bing Crosby (13) Fred Astaire
(14) Ginger Rogers (15) William Powell (16) Janet Gaynor
(17) Jean Harlow (18) Norma Shearer (19) W. C. Fields
(20) Ruby Keeler (21) Warner Baxter (22) Grace Moore
(23) Katharine Hepburn (24) Buck Jones (25) Fredric March


1936 - SHIRLEY TEMPLE #1

(1) Shirley Temple
(2) Clark Gable
(3) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
(4) Robert Taylor
(5) Joe E. Brown
(6) Dick Powell
(7) Joan Crawford
(8) Claudette Colbert
(9) Jeanette MacDonald
(10) Gary Cooper

(11) Jane Withers (12) James Cagney (13) William Powell
(14) Jean Harlow (15) Wallace Beery (16) Fred MacMurray
(17) Irene Dunne (18) Myrna Loy (19) Ginger Rogers
(20) Fred Astaire (21) Warner Baxter (22) Bing Crosby
(23) Dionne Quintuplets (24) Janet Gaynor (25) Nelson Eddy


1937 - SHIRLEY TEMPLE #1

(1) Shirley Temple
(2) Clark Gable
(3) Robert Taylor
(4) Bing Crosby
(5) William Powell
(6) Jane Withers 
(7) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
(8) Sonja Henie
(9) Gary Cooper
(10) Myrna Loy

(11) Bob Burns (12) Martha Raye (13) Jeanette MacDonald
(14) Dick Powell (15) Wallace Beery (16) Joan Crawford
(17) Joe E. Brown (18) Spencer Tracy
(19) Claudette Colbert (20) Eleanor Powell
(21) Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy (as a team)
(22) Jack Benny 23) Nelson Eddy
(24) William Powell and Myrna Loy (as a team)
(25) Bob Burns and Martha Raye (as a team)


1938 - SHIRLEY TEMPLE #1

(1) Shirley Temple
(2) Clark Gable
(3) Sonja Henie
(4) Mickey Rooney
(5) Spencer Tracy
(6) Robert Taylor
(7) Myrna Loy
(8) Jane Withers
(9) Alice Faye
(10) Tyrone Power

(11) Gary Cooper (12) Wallace Beery (13) Bing Crosby
(14) Jeanette MacDonald (15) Deanna Durbin
(16) Don Ameche (17) Dorothy Lamour (18) Ginger Rogers
(19) Nelson Eddy (20) Bob Burns (21) Errol Flynn
(22) Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy (as a team)
(23) Irene Dunne (24) Paul Muni (25) William Powell


1939 - MICKEY ROONEY #1

(1) Mickey Rooney
(2) Tyrone Power
(3) Spencer Tracy
(4) Clark Gable
(5) Shirley Temple
(6) Bette Davis
(7) Alice Faye
(8) Errol Flynn
(9) James Cagney
(10) Sonja Henie

(11) Bing Crosby (12) Deanna Durbin (13) Jane Withers
(14) Robert Taylor (15) Wallace Beery (16) Myrna Loy
(17) Bob Burns (18) Gary Cooper (19) Jeanette MacDonald
(20) Don Ameche (21) Ginger Rogers (22) Henry Fonda
(23) Paul Muni (24) Irene Dunne (25) Cary Grant

1940 - MICKEY ROONEY #1

(1) Mickey Rooney
(2) Spencer Tracy
(3) Clark Gable
(4) Gene Autry
(5) Tyrone Power
(6) James Cagney
(7) Bing Crosby
(8) Wallace Beery
(9) Bette Davis
(10) Judy Garland

(11) James Stewart (12) Deanna Durbin (13) Alice Faye
(14) Errol Flynn (15) Myrna Loy (16) Dorothy Lamour
(17) Cary Grant (18) Bob Hope (19) Henry Fonda
(20) Gary Cooper (21) Don Ameche (22) Jack Benny
(23) Ginger Rogers (24) Ann Sheridan (25) William Powell


*Contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Thurs, Feb 5 2014 / 1:23:18 PST