Ohmer, Susan

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Ohmer, Susan

PERSONAL:

Education: Ohio State University, B.A., B.F.A.; New York University, M.A., Ph.D.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, University of Notre Dame, 230 Performing Arts Center, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, began as assistant professor, became William T. and Helen Kuhn Carey Associate Professor of Modern Communication.

MEMBER:

South Bend Regional Museum of Art (member, board of trustees).

AWARDS, HONORS:

Society for Cinema Studies Dissertation Award, 1998, for George Gallup in Hollywood.

WRITINGS:

George Gallup in Hollywood, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to books, including American Cinema of the 1930s and Storytelling in Animation. Work has been published in scholarly journals, including Journal of Film and Video, Velvet Light Trap, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and Film History. Member of editorial board, Cinema Journal.

SIDELIGHTS:

Susan Ohmer's first book, George Gallup in Hollywood, is a revised version of her doctoral dissertation and charts the influence of trusted political pollster George Gallup, who rose to prominence after predicting Franklin Roosevelt's win over Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. In 1940 Gallup signed a contract with RKO Radio Pictures to provide the studio with detailed information regarding their films and movie stars gathered from carefully constructed opinion polls and trained interviewers. Armed with such information from his Audience Research Institute, Gallup allowed studios to produce movies targeted at certain demographics in an effort to maximize profit. His reputation was secured when he provided prophetically accurate services to David O. Selznick, producer of Gone with the Wind. Gallup's findings were considered more accurate than previous, unscientific methods employed by the big studios and were bolstered by his intimate knowledge of psychology theory and his experience as the director of research for a major advertising firm. Many of his methods, such as testing films with audiences in New York and Hollywood before opening nationwide, were still in practice more than sixty years later, though at the time they were criticized for failing to properly acknowledge the creative process. Roy Liebman, writing in Library Journal, praised the book as "a well-detailed account" of an "obscure chapter in cinema history."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chronicle of Higher Education, January 19, 2007, Nina C. Ayoub, review of George Gallup in Hollywood.

Film and History, Volume 37, number 1, 2007, Ron Briley, review of George Gallup in Hollywood, p. 94.

Film Comment, January-February, 2007, review of George Gallup in Hollywood, p. 79.

Library Journal, September 1, 2006, Roy Liebman, review of George Gallup in Hollywood, p. 149.

Public Opinion Quarterly, Volume 71, number 2, 2007, Frank Louis Rusciano, review of George Gallup in Hollywood, pp. 314-318.

ONLINE

Columbia University Press Web site,http://www.columbia.edu/ (July 11, 2007), interview with Susan Ohmer.

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Ohmer, Susan

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