Photoplay was one of the first American film fan magazines. It was founded in 1911 in Chicago, the same year that J. Stuart Blackton founded Motion Picture Story, a magazine also directed at fans. For most of its run, Photoplay was published by Macfadden Publications. In 1921 Photoplay established what is considered the first significant annual movie award. The magazine ceased publication in 1980.

Photoplay began as a short-fiction magazine concerned mostly with the plots and characters of films at the time and was used as a promotional tool for those films. In 1915, Julian Johnson and James R. Quirk became the editors, and together they created a format which would set a precedent for almost all celebrity magazines that followed. By 1918 the circulation exceeded 200,000, with the popularity of the magazine fueled by the public's increasing interest in the private lives of celebrities.

Photoplay reached its apex in the 1920’s and 1930’s and was considered quite influential within the motion picture industry. The magazine was renowned for its artwork portraits of film stars on the cover. Macfadden Publications purchased the magazine in 1934. With the advancement of color photography, the magazine began using photographs of the stars instead by 1937.

Photoplay published the writings of Lillian Day, Sheilah Graham, Hedda Hopper, Dorothy Kilgallen, Hazel MacDonald, Louella Parsons, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Rob Wagner, later editor and publisher of Rob Wagner's Script, and Walter Winchell, among others. The magazine was edited by Quirk until 1932; later editors include Kathyrn Dougherty, Ruth Waterbury, and Adele Whiteley Fletcher. It also featured the health and beauty advice of Sylvia of Hollywood, arguably the first fitness guru to the stars.

Sidney Skolsky, a nationally syndicated gossip columnist for the New York Daily News and later the New York Daily Mirror had a regular column in Photoplay called "From A Stool At Schwab’s", the Hollywood drugstore he made famous, such was the magazine's popularity.

Photoplay merged with another fan magazine, Movie Mirror, in 1941; and with TV-Radio Mirror in 1977, when the name became Photoplay and TV Mirror.

The magazine published its final issue on April 15, 1980. In a sign of changing times, the cover photo featured not movie stars but two television actresses, Victoria Principal and Charlene Tilton. The skeleton staff of six people were all transferred to Us magazine, which Macfadden Publications had recently acquired. The president of Macfadden, Peter J. Callahan, said the decision to cease publication was made "very reluctantly", but also added the bald observation that "the day of the traditional movie magazine is over".

A British version of Photoplay debuted in 1952, and in April 1981 it was rebranded as Photoplay: Movies and Video. It featured an equal mix of American and British films and stars and ceased publication in 1989.

June 1959 issue

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