The Women Who Built Hollywood: 12 Trailblazers in Front of and Behind the Camera (Hardcover)

The Women Who Built Hollywood: 12 Trailblazers in Front of and Behind the Camera By Susan Goldman Rubin Cover Image
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(Child Non Fiction)


Discover the electrifying untold stories of the pioneering and groundbreaking women of Old Hollywood in this nonfiction book perfect for young movie buffs and budding feminists alike. Includes a foreword written by Marvel Studios' Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Academy Award-Winning Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter.

While recent phenomena like #OscarsSoWhite have reminded us that Hollywood can be an unfriendly place to people of color and to women, they have been an integral part of the industry from the beginning. In the early twentieth century, women from all walks of life fought against sexism and racism to succeed in Hollywood as actors, directors, costume designers, editors, and stunt women. From well-known, glamorous starlets like Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish, to under-appreciated trailblazers like Anna May Wong and Hattie McDaniel, acclaimed author Susan Goldman Rubin shows that movies wouldn’t be the same without the women who succeeded against the odds and built Hollywood from the ground up. Filled with fascinating photographs and little-known facts, this rigorously researched book begins with a foreword by Ruth E Carter, who won Academy Awards in 2019 and 2023 for her work on Marvel Studios' Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

About the Author

Susan Goldman Rubin is the author of more than 55 books for young people. Her titles include Sing and Shout and Degas, Painter of Ballerinas. Susan has been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program for more than 20 years. Visit

Praise For…

2023 Eureka! Nonfiction Childrens’ Honor Award
A 2024 CCBC Choice 

"In The Women Who Built Hollywood, Susan Goldman Rubin profiles 12 female powerhouses who made big contributions when movies were a new American art form in the early 20th century...Replete with archival black-and-white photos, this galvanic book gestures at the secret to so many of its subjects' long careers in Hollywood, both on-screen and behind the scenes." —Shelf Awareness

"With a clearly written narrative bolstered by delightful, behind-the-scenes photography, the book not only delves into the histories of 12 women who played various professional roles in the industry, but examines how historical events like world wars, the Great Depression, the 1918 influenza pandemic, and Jim Crow impacted their careers. The racism some of these women faced is described with thoughtfulness and accuracy...An accessible, well-researched book highlighting pioneering women creatives." —Kirkus Reviews

"Rubin provides a well-researched, smoothly written account of each woman’s life, achievements, and legacy, while well-chosen quotes from the women and their contemporaries bring their voices into the narrative. An informative, enjoyable account of women's contributions to the early history of Hollywood movies." —Booklist

"Carefully researched chapters chronicle the highlights of each subject’s accomplishments while also providing historical context surrounding the time they lived in and how significant events—the Great Depression, Jim Crow, world wars, and widespread sickness—impacted their careers. Illuminating b&w photographs feature throughout, providing behind-the-scenes glimpses into the women’s professional lives and elevating the timely appeal of this worthy telling." —Publishers Weekly

"An illuminating collective biography that goes behind the scenes to shed light on 12 groundbreaking women who made their mark on film and early cinema...The writing is succinct and accessible and will inspire readers to do more research. This book has multiple entry points and will interest fans of untold histories and film. Every profile is accompanied by ­multiple gorgeous, ­black-and-white archival photos...Well-researched, the work is heavily sourced with extensive notes, bibliography, and ­index. Rubin takes extra care to preface the book with a note on the derogatory terms used during the time period...A fascinating and browsable collective ­biography that will inspire further ­research." —School Library Journal

“These women did not just build Hollywood, they contributed to its longevity. They were breaking ground and breaking stereotypes. They were role models. They were a founding generation of women in Hollywood who helped future generations not only exist but have the powerful and diverse voice that they have now.” —Academy Award-Winning Costume Designer Ruth E. Carter, Marvel Studios' Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Product Details
ISBN: 9781662680106
ISBN-10: 1662680104
Publisher: Calkins Creek
Publication Date: May 16th, 2023
Pages: 208
Language: English