Mel Gibson is America's Favorite Movie Star, New Harris Poll Results Show

Every year at this time the Harris Poll asks a nationwide cross-sectioof adults who is their favorite movie star. This year Mel Gibson, who was #2 a year ago and has been in the top four every year since 1994, recaptures the top place, which he also held in 1996. Julia Roberts, who was #1 in 2001 and #3 last year, moves up to #2 now.

These are the results of a nationwide poll of 1,102 adults conducted online by Harris Interactive(R) between November 17 and 23, 2003.
There are a number of changes in the top nine places in addition to

Julia Roberts moving up and Tom Hanks slipping out of the top place. However, most of these changes are very modest and overall the listing is remarkably stable:
   -- Sean Connery moves up to #3 from #5 last year.

   -- Tom Hanks has slipped from #1 last year to #4 this year.
   -- Harrison Ford held the #4 slot last year; but this year he shares #5

      with Tom Cruise, who moves up from #9 last year.
   -- John Wayne, who was first or second in the list almost every year
      until 2001, slips from #6 last year to #7 now.
   -- Clint Eastwood retains the #8 position he held last year.
   -- Denzel Washington slips from #7 last year to #9 now.

Nine of the ten stars in this year's top-ten list were also in last year's list. The one change: Johnny Depp comes in at #10, displacing Sandra Bullock.
Among all of the movie stars who made this top-ten list, only Johnny Depp had a major box office success thus far in 2003 (in Pirates of the Caribbean). Most of the people on this list have not released a major movie this year, and in a few cases, they have released movies that have fared less well than usual. Also missing from the list are the stars of big box office comedies, e.g. Adam Sandler, Steve Martin, Mike Meyers, and Jim Carrey. Perhaps this says something about the power of video and DVD rentals?

The continuing popularity of John Wayne is, of course, quite extraordinary. It is now 24 years since he died in 1979. No other dead movie star has ever made it into the top ten since Harris Interactive began asking this question ten years ago. Most of his fans are men, and this year more men pick him as their favorite than choose anyone else. Tom Hanks is the second most popular star among men.
Mel Gibson is #1 among women. He is also #1 among whites. Julia Roberts is preferred by people aged 18-29 (who are far more important to the movie industry as they go to the movies much more often than their elders) for the third year in a row.

Denzel Washington retains his #1 position among African Americans. Hispanics pick Robert DeNiro as their favorite.
When the replies are analyzed by party affiliation, Republicans and Democrats agree on Mel Gibson as their #1. Among Independents however, Julia Roberts and John Wayne tie for first place.
                                 TABLE 1
                           FAVORITE MOVIE STAR
                    "Who is your favorite movie star?"
  Base: All Adults

                      1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
  Mel Gibson            5    3    3    1    2    3    3    3    4    2    1
  Julia Roberts         *    *    *    *    *    *    8    4    1    3    2
  Sean Connery          *    *    *    *   =7   =8    7  =10    5    5    3
  Tom Hanks             *    5    6    7    *    *   =5    6    2    1    4
  Harrison Ford         7    4    *    *    5    1    1    1    3    4   =5
  Tom Cruise            4    8    *   =5    3   =4    *    *    *    9   =5
  John Wayne            2    2    1    2    4    2    2    2    6    6    7
  Clint Eastwood        1    1    2    4    1   =4    4    5    7    8    8
  Denzel Washington     *    *    4    8   10   10    *   =7    8    7    9
  Johnny Depp           *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   10

  *Not in top 10.

                     DROPPED OUT OF TOP TEN THIS YEAR
                       Sandra Bullock (#10 in 2002)

                                 TABLE 2

  Bases/Groups as listed below                Favorite Movie Star
  Men:                                             John Wayne
  Women:                                           Mel Gibson
  People aged 18-29:                             Julia Roberts
  Whites:                                          Mel Gibson
  African-Americans:                           Denzel Washington
  Hispanics:                                     Robert DeNiro
  Republicans:                                     Mel Gibson
  Democrats:                                       Mel Gibson
  Independents:                            Julia Roberts & John Wayne

The Harris Poll(R) was conducted online within the United States between November 17 and 23, 2003 among a nationwide cross-section of 1,102 adults. Figures for age, sex, race, education and number of adults in the household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. "Propensity score" weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or minus three percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult population had been polled with complete accuracy. Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in all polls or surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of sampling error. They include refusals to be interviewed (non-response), question wording and question order, and weighting. It is impossible to quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online survey is not a probability sample.


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