This article places 1950s women story editors in television in the context of the studio system and explains the particular labor of the story and script editors in film and TV. It examines the extant records and archival sources (including newspapers, industry trade publications, and internal memos) of women story editors such as Dorothy Hechtlinger, Alice Young, Jacqueline Babbin, and Janet Wood in conjunction with the historical work of David Waterman and Erin Hill, as well as the theoretical model Michel Foucault posits in his essay on the criminal notices of obscure “infamous men.” These “infamous” (or, more appropriately, un-famous) women story editors become visible as they are being penalized, disciplined, or fired—which is to say, they only appear in the historical record when they are being pushed out or when they push back. As Hechtlinger writes in an angry memo to a supervisor at The United States Steel Hour (ABC, 1953–55; CBS, 1955–63), “I think it was a shameful omission that I was not permitted to attend today’s meeting.” For decades, women like Hechtlinger and Wood have suffered such “omissions” within television history. This essay seeks to integrate their stories, work, and subjectivities into the field of postwar media industry studies while revealing how this hidden history invites a rereading of media texts from the period.
Annie Berke; Whatever Happened to Janet Wood? Women Story Editors in 1950s Television. Camera Obscura 1 December 2019; 34 (3): 127–155. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-7772411
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