The Star Maker
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRoy Del Ruth
Written byFrank Butler
Don Hartman
Arthur Caesar
Story byArthur Caesar
William A. Pierce
Produced byCharles R. Rogers
StarringBing Crosby
Louise Campbell
Linda Ware
Ned Sparks
Laura Hope Crews
Janet Waldo
Walter Damrosch
CinematographyKarl Struss
Edited byAlma Macrorie
Music byAlfred Newman
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 25, 1939 (1939-08-25)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Star Maker is a 1939 American musical film directed by Roy Del Ruth, written by Frank Butler, Don Hartman and Arthur Caesar, and starring Bing Crosby, Louise Campbell, Linda Ware, Ned Sparks, Laura Hope Crews, Janet Waldo and Walter Damrosch. Filming started in Hollywood on April 17, 1939 and was finished in June. The film was released on August 25, 1939, by Paramount Pictures,[1][2] and had its New York premiere on August 30, 1939. It was the only film in which Crosby played a happily married man.[3]


Loosely based on the life of vaudevillian Gus Edwards, the film follows the career of aspiring song writer Larry Earl (Crosby) who gives up his job as a night clerk and marries Mary (Louise Campbell). He is anxious to get his songs published and buys a piano which they can ill afford. He sees children performing in the street and has an idea to develop and produce their talent on stage. Initially he cannot obtain any bookings but Mary persuades an agent to give her husband a chance. The one night try-out is a success and he forms "Larry Earl Kiddie Productions" which in due course has 14 productions running in various towns. Larry Earl opens a Broadway musical called School Days, the crowning point of his career, but halfway through the first performance it is closed down by the Children's Welfare Society as they will not allow children under 12 years of age to work past 10 p.m. All of Earl's productions have to be closed down too. Earl had developed the career of Jane Gray (Linda Ware) and he transfers her contract to Walter Damrosch and she performs for him at Carnegie Hall. Later Earl realizes that he can still use children on radio and the film closes with him singing with a children's chorus on a radio show.



Bing Crosby recorded a number of the songs for Decca Records.[5] "An Apple for the Teacher" (recorded with Connee Boswell) was a huge hit reaching the No. 2 position in the charts. "Go Fly a Kite" and "A Man and His Dream" also reached the top 10.[6] Crosby's songs were also included in the Bing's Hollywood series.


Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times was not impressed. "'The Star Maker,' the new Bing Crosby film at the Paramount, was inspired (to employ a euphemism) by the career of Gus Edwards, a show-minded Pied Piper who used to swing around the old vaudeville circuits followed by precocious little song and dance teams — the girls in sunbonnets, the boys in newsies' tatters — who grew up, or at least some of them did, to become Walter Winchell, George Jessel, Eddie Cantor and Mervyn LeRoy...There isn't much more to the picture. Mr. Crosby sings in his usual lullaby manner and hasn't many good lines to play with. Ned Sparks sneaks away with a comic scene or two as the child-hating press agent who has to tell bedtime stories and spins a grim whopper about the mean old wolf who gobbled up the little kiddies... But it is all, if Mr. Edwards will pardon us, too much like a Gus Edwards revue and far too much of that."[7]

Variety was far more positive. "Film is first-class entertainment, a lively combination of the conventional backstage story, which is played for comedy angles, and filmusical technique, that is up to best standards...Audiences will quickly and cheerfully respond to the gayety [sic] which pervades the film. ... It's the Gus Edwards repertoire of pop tunes which gives the film zest and the feeling that yesterday is worth remembering. 'School Days' is recreated in an elaborate production number, including an interpolation when Crosby, speaking directly from the screen to the film audience, invites and obtains a spirited if somewhat vocally uncertain choral participation."[8]


  1. ^ "The Star Maker". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  2. ^ "The Star Maker (1939) - Overview". Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  3. ^ Giddins, Gary (2001). A Pocketful of Dreams. New York: Little, Brown and Company. p. 536. ISBN 0-316-88188-0.
  4. ^ Reynolds, Fred (1986). Road to Hollywood. Gateshead, UK: John Joyce. p. 99.
  5. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". A Bing Crosby Discography. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 107. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  7. ^ Nugent, Frank S. (1939-08-31). "Movie Review - The Star Maker - THE SCREEN; The Star Maker,' Based on the Life of Gus Edwards, Runs Like an Edwards Revue at the Paramount". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
  8. ^ "Variety". August 23, 1939.