Hedda Hopper

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Born

5/2/1885 , Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania

Died

2/1/1966

Birth Name

Elda Furry

Gender

Biography:

Hedda Hopper -- her beginnings as a singer and dancer led to her becoming a leading Hollywood gossip columnist (along with rival Louella Parsons).

In 1913, at the age of 28, Hedda married DeWolfe Hopper, Sr. (1858-1935) who was 55; Hedda was his 5th wife. They had a son, William Hopper, born on January 26, 1915, in New York.*

In 1915, Hedda and family moved to Hollywood. Hedda started appearing in movies, and her film career would last for decades. As for DeWolf Hopper, Sr., he only appeared in movies in 1915-1916, and his film career was over. However, one of the movies he starred in was "Casey at the Bat" (1916) where he played Casey. DeWolf would perform this in live theatre -- he's the one who made Ernest L. Thayer's poem "Casey at the Bat" famous, performing it over 10,000 times. The couple divorced in 1922.

Hedda was perfect for movies, she was moderately tall (5' 7") and had a youthful appearance (Hedda changed her published birth date from May 2, 1885, to June 2, 1890, in order to conceal her actual age). Hedda appeared in scores of films in the 1920s and 1930s (see filmography), and sometimes a dozen movies a year (1927, 1931) -- she was one of the queens of the "quickies." Louis B. Mayer signed Hedda to an exclusive contract with MGM in 1931, guaranteeing her $600 a week and at least 40 weeks work/year. In later years, Hedda would no longer work exclusively for MGM.

Hedda started her gossipy radio show in 1936, and in 1938 she started her newspaper gossip column, which would run until she died in 1966. By 1941, her gossip column was earning Hedda over $100,000 a year, and her readership was 35 million. As for films, from 1941-on she would only play "herself" in features. Hedda's political allies and sources in the 1940s and 1950s included Joe McCarthy, Howard Hughes, Ronald Reagan and William Randolph Hearst-- she had unlimited sources of gossip on the entertainment society through her relationship with FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover. Though her writing style was often criticized, Hedda commented, "Nobody's interested in sweetness and light."


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*[William Hopper started his movie career in 1936, and is best remembered as Paul Drake in the wildly popular TV series "Perry Mason" (1957). He died on March 6, 1970, in Palm Springs, California-- he died of pneumonia, just like his mother.]