Poor Greek to ‘Scandalous’ Hollywood Mogul

Alexander Pantages and the Anti-Immigrant Narratives of William Randolph Hearst's

Article appearing in Journal of Modern Greek Studies Vol. 30 No. 1

  • Author:
  • Taso Lagos
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Date: May 2012, 2012

“Second Wave” immigrants poured into the United States between 1880 and 1924 and stirred nativist hostility against the foreign-born, a sentiment already present in American culture in the nineteenth century. This hostility is captured in the newspaper coverage of the rape case of Alexander Pantages who in 1929 was accused of sexually molesting a 17-year-old female dancer. The reporting of the case by the Los Angeles Examiner highlights not only the use of the tropes of the “foreign-born,” but also those of the “movie mogul” to tap into social anxieties over the wave of new immigrants and their supposed domination of the movie industry. The demonization of Pantages through visual and rhetorical constructions by the Examiner marks the boundaries and contestational territory of “white ethnicity” in a socially turbulent America. The biased news coverage exposes normative journalistic practices that favor the highly dramatic, while reifying the existing hierarchal social order and confining the nation’s immigrants within narrow cultural norms.