“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.”
Fantastic subject for a post! I can’t wait to dive in and read the whole piece. I just love her quote ” “Our town worships success, the bitch goddess whose smile hides a taste for blood.” Great stuff!!!! Cheers
Thanks! So glad you liked this. I always say I don’t like gossip, but can spend days at a time reading those classic stuff – real or not, mean or kind it’s fascinating!
Fascinating to read the columns – nothing much more than gossip ( sometimes dipped in acid). But I guess if we had been around at the time,we would have lapped it up!
I think I would have lived by her columns back then. So much fun. And in comparison to today mass media was limited so – mean or lean – Hedda was one of the Hollywood lifelines.
Wonderful post, I loved reading through Hopper’s columns. I know she could be acerbic, but part of me prefers that style to the non-stories that are published in the Daily Mail et al (woman wears clothes and goes for coffee, today’s example). Hopper must be turning in her grave – at least her stories were always worth it!
Thanks, so much. 🙂 And I agree that she was utterly entertaining. Particularly top us classics nerds today!
Another great post!
I always think of Joan Bennett and her delightfully bitchy battle with Hedda when I hear of her. Not only sending Hedda a de-scented skunk, but taking out a full page ad in the trade papers inserting a recent call for Hollywood columnists to report more responsibly with a heart around it and a title saying “Could this mean you, Hedda?” Priceless!
Naturally, to which Hedda kicked back that she didn’t think Joan would have any more money to take out such ads after ‘hubby'(Walter Wanger) had spent all her dough on the terrific flop “Joan of Arc”. Ouch!
Thanks so much, Karin!
Ouch! Yes, what fun stuff! I’d read about that eons ago but had forgotten. 🙂
I didn’t know Bill Holden dyed his hair for Sabrina! Why would he do red?
Oh what a fabulous post, Aurora!!! What a sharp quill she wrought at times!!! Love it! Glad she had tender moments, too, like her bit about Mr. Gable. I enjoyed seeing the ads too. Interesting to get such contemporary info about films in production in real-time, so to speak.
Reminds me of a funny moment: my mom and I were watching a movie years ago – for the life of me I can’t remember what – and she spotted Hedda Hopper in it. She had speaking lines. I disputed her because she didn’t have on a hat(!). So we went back and forth for a while, she knew she was IN films too; I only knew that hat and her column (yeah, she didn’t exist without a hat to me, I reckon). Thankfully the credits rolled and her name was there. Since this was pre – imdb days, I’m grateful for those end credits!
Again… fabulous post! Thanks!!!
If true, I’m thrilled to learn that I use the same memorization method as Olivia de Havilland.
Fun stuff. I was lost in it.
In reading these clips, I kept thinking of Burt Lancaster in “The Sweet Smell of Success”. However, if I were a newspaper subscriber back in the day I would never – NEVER – miss any of her columns.
I didn’t see that much in those columns that was particularly inflammatory, but I guess those were just random samples.
They were. Very few are available on random searches.