“Two of the cruelest, most primitive punishments our town deals out to those who fall from favor are the empty mailbox and the silent telephone.”
Those are words spoken by Hedda Hopper, popular gossip columnist during Hollywood’s golden age who would have celebrated her 124th birthday today. Although, I should note that several places note her birthdate as June 2, rather than May. That discrepancy, as it turns out, is due to the fact that Hedda officially changed her birth date to disguise her age.
“In Hollywood gratitude is Public Enemy Number One.”
Hopper was born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. Before turning her efforts to gossip by way of columns in the Los Angeles Times starting in 1938, Hopper had a moderately successful career as a stage and screen actress appearing in over a hundred films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). But it is her way with words that she is best remembered for as a result of her columns appearing in periodicals across the country for decades as well as having had successful radio shows and theater shorts in which she starred in a series titled, “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood.” (Biography.com)
An interesting, for lack of a better word, part of Hedda Hopper’s stint in Hollywood took place during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings during which she played the role of informant, naming those she perceived as suspected communists working in Hollywood at the time. Not surprisingly, she was very vocal about how seriously she and others should take the threats posed by these people.
[on three blacklisted writers winning the 1958 screenplay award for The Defiant Ones (1958)] “Since our Academy now makes it legal for Commie writers to receive Oscars, some past winners–who are as bitter about this as I am–tell me they’ll return theirs.”
OK! So, as a tribute to this popular Hollywood personality, simply because it’s (hopefully) entertaining, I’m including several of Hedda’s columns as well as a few clips. Some of these are not complete, nor is there any rhyme or reason as to the order these are listed in. I include them because I enjoy the entertaining glimpse into the pulse of classic Hollywood. And hope you do as well.
“Nobody’s interested in sweetness and light.”
Following is a theatrical “short” version of “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” – as best I can determine –
This next clip shows Hedda supporting the war effort and bolstering morale. Most entertaining are the segments included on Jane Withers and Bob Hope.
This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive http://www.PeriscopeFilm.com
Here’s an episode of the Bob Hope radio show from 1941 in which Hedda appears as the featured guest –
Finally, mostly because it’s interesting to see images of Hopper as movie star, rather than simply as an outrageous hat-wearing gossip monger, here’s is a Movie Legends Tribute:
“Our town worships success, the bitch goddess whose smile hides a taste for blood.”