Matinée idol  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Matinée idol is a term used mainly to describe film or theatre stars who are adored to the point of adulation by their fans.

The term almost exclusively refers to male actors. Invariably the adulation was fixated on the actor's looks rather than performance. It differs from "sex symbol" (and is also faintly derogatory) in that it suggests the star's popularity came from the afternoon matinée performances rather than the "big picture" evenings and, hence, a less discriminating audience.

During the 1920s, three actors Rudolph Valentino, Ramon Novarro and Ivor Novello were considered leading Matinée idols.

Now a somewhat old-fashioned term, the phenomenon reached its height during the period from the 1930s to around the 1960s, a period extending from the beginning of the "talkies" to the development of pop culture. A concept it was supplanted by the more music-led term, "teen idol".

Television and film

The Matinee Idol is also the title of a 1928 Frank Capra film, a 1933 UK film, as well as countless articles and biographies concerning film and theatre actors.


  • Williams, Michael. Ivor Novello: Screen Idol. BFI, 2003.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Matinée idol" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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