Matthew Kennedy (author)

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Matthew Kennedy
Born (1957-03-14) March 14, 1957 (age 62)
Redding, California

Matthew Kennedy (born March 14, 1957) is an American writer, film historian, and anthropologist.

Early life and education[edit]

Matthew Kennedy was born in Redding, California, attended Shasta High School, and the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in theater arts in 1979. Moving to San Francisco, he studied and performed with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company,[1] before moving to New York to study with choreographer Merce Cunningham and perform with Jonathon Apples + Company.[2] After serving on the executive staff of the California Arts Council, he pursued graduate studies in anthropology at the University of California, Davis, where he was awarded a Fulbright research grant. Graduating with a Masters of Arts in 1992, the following year he joined the faculty in anthropology at City College of San Francisco, where he continues to teach.[3]


Kennedy's books include Marie Dressler: A Biography (1999), Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory: Hollywood’s Genius Bad Boy (2004) with a foreword by Kevin Brownlow, Joan Blondell: A Life between Takes (2007), and Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s (2014).

Kennedy’s books on film have received praise. In reviewing Joan Blondell, film critic and historian Leonard Maltin wrote, "Kennedy is a genuinely good writer who knows the language as well as he does vintage Hollywood movies. This book gets my highest recommendation."[4] The National Board of Review found Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory to be "a fascinating read,"[5] and linguist and political commentator John McWhorter reviewed Marie Dressler with "Bullseye! ... this book finally does this fabulous star justice with comprehensive research on her now-obscured early life; loving, intelligent coverage of all her extant films; savvy, well-written documentation of her stage career, and endlessly perceptive reconstruction of what Dressler was like as a human being.... Truly a bravura performance - Dressler lives again."[6][7]

Teaching and film series[edit]

Kennedy began teaching film history in 2004 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has written extensively about film in a number of publications, including The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, Bay Area Reporter, San Francisco Chronicle, Performing Arts, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival and TCM Classic Film Festival program books, and the popular Bright Lights Film Journal.[8] Honors include a Cable Car Award for Outstanding Critic[9] and for his teaching has been named in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers[10] and Honors Faculty of the Year by the Northern California Bay Consortium.[11] Kennedy was a contributing researcher for George Lucas’ Blockbusting, a film reference book published in 2010.[12] His books have inspired film retrospectives on Turner Classic Movies and at the Museum of Modern Art[13][14] and the Pacific Film Archive.[15] He is a regular guest speaker at the San Francisco Mechanics Institute CinemaLit series,[16] and has been interviewed for a number of documentaries, blogs, and podcasts, including Queer Icon: The Cult of Bette Davis (2009).

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Marie Dressler: A Biography (1999)
  • Strategies in Teaching Anthropology (first edition contributor) (2000)
  • Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory: Hollywood’s Genius Bad Boy (2004)
  • The Queer Encyclopedia of Music, Dance & Musical Theater (contributor) (2004)
  • The Queer Encyclopedia of Film and Television (contributor) (2005)
  • Strategies in Teaching Anthropology (fourth edition contributor) (2006)
  • Joan Blondell: A Life between Takes (2007)
  • Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s (2014)


  1. ^ “Redding native chronicles unlikely star’s life.” Redding Record-Searchlight, 21 October 1999.
  2. ^ New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
  3. ^ City College of San Francisco
  4. ^ Silver Screen Oasis
  5. ^ National Board of Review Archived 2011-12-18 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^
  7. ^ John McWhorter's Review
  8. ^ Bright Lights Film Journal
  9. ^ “Matthew Kennedy wins Cable Car Award.” City Currents (Marketing and Public Information Office of City College of San Francisco). May 1995. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  10. ^ Anonymous. Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers (2000), p. 316.
  11. ^ “Matthew Kennedy Named Community College Honors Program Faculty Member of Year 2011”. City Currents (Marketing and Public Information Office of City College of San Francisco). 13 June 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  12. ^ Block, Alex Ben and Lucy Autrey Wilson, editors. George Lucas’s Blockbusting (2010), p. ix.
  13. ^ Saltz, Rachel (21 December 2007) “Joan Blondell: The Blond Bombshell from 91st Street.” The New York Times. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  14. ^ Museum of Modern Art Film Exhibitions
  15. ^ Pacific Film Archive Joan Blondell retrospective Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ San Francisco Conservatory of Music faculty page Archived 2012-07-10 at

Further reading[edit]

  • Guillen, Michael (June 7, 2008). "Joan Blondell: The Fizz on the Soda—The Evening Class Interview With Matthew Kennedy, Part One". The Evening Class. Retrieved 2015-04-17.
  • Lopate, Leonard (December 20, 2007). "Joan Blondell: The Bombshell from 91st Street". New York Public Radio. Retrieved 2015-04-17.

External links[edit]