Hedda Hopper

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Hedda Hopper
in 1929
BornElda Furry
(1885-05-02)May 2, 1885
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedFebruary 1, 1966(1966-02-01) (aged 80)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Double pneumonia
Resting place
Rose Hill Cemetery in Altoona, Pennsylvania
OccupationActress, gossip columnist
Years active1908–1966
Known forWriting "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood"
Political party
Spouse(s)DeWolf Hopper (m. 1913–22)
ChildrenWilliam Hopper (1915–1970)
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Hedda Hopper
in 1929
BornElda Furry
(1885-05-02)May 2, 1885
Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedFebruary 1, 1966(1966-02-01) (aged 80)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Double pneumonia
Resting place
Rose Hill Cemetery in Altoona, Pennsylvania
OccupationActress, gossip columnist
Years active1908–1966
Known forWriting "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood"
Political party
Spouse(s)DeWolf Hopper (m. 1913–22)
ChildrenWilliam Hopper (1915–1970)

Hedda Hopper (May 2, 1885 – February 1, 1966) was one of America's best-known gossip columnists, notorious for feuding with her arch-rival Louella Parsons. She had been a moderately successful actress of stage and screen for years before being offered the chance to write the column Hedda Hopper's Hollywood for the Los Angeles Times in 1938. In the McCarthy era she named suspected communists. Hopper continued to write gossip to the end, her work appearing in many magazines and later on radio.

Early life[edit]

She was born Elda Furry in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, the daughter of David D. Furry, a butcher, and Margaret (née Miller) Furry, both members of the German Baptist Brethren. Her siblings included Dora, Sherman, Cameron, Edgar, Frank and Margaret.[1] The family moved to Altoona when Elda was three.



She eventually ran away to New York City and began her career in the chorus on the Broadway stage. Hopper was not successful in this venture, even getting the axe by the renowned Shubert Brothers. Florenz Ziegfeld called the aspiring starlet a "clumsy cow" and brushed off her pleas for a slot in his lavish Follies. After a few years, she joined the theater company of matinee idol DeWolf Hopper, whom she called "Wolfie" and would later marry.[citation needed]

In her words, "Dancing came easy to me. And in singing, what my voice lacked in quality it made up for in volume." Thus, she remained in the chorus and they toured the country. While in the Hopper company, she realized that chorus and understudy jobs were not acting. She wanted to act, and she knew she would have to prove herself before she could hope to get anywhere in the theater. Hearing that Edgar Selwyn was casting his play The Country Boy for a road tour, she went to his office and talked him into letting her audition for the lead. She was given the role and that show toured for thirty-five weeks through forty-eight states. She studied singing during the summer and, in the fall, toured with The Quaker Girl in the second lead, the prima donna role. The show closed in Albany.[this quote needs a citation]

Hedda Hopper and Carole Lombard, The Racketeer (1929)

In 1913, she became the fifth wife of DeWolf Hopper, whose previous wives were named Ella, Ida, Edna and Nella. The similarity in names caused some friction, as he would sometimes call Elda by the name of one of his former wives. Consequently, Elda Hopper paid a numerologist $10 to tell her what name she should use, and the answer was "Hedda".[2] She began acting in silent movies in 1915. Her motion picture debut was in The Battle of Hearts (1916) with William Farnum. She appeared in more than 120 movies over the following twenty-three years, usually portraying society women.


As her movie career waned in the mid-1930s, Hopper looked for other sources of income. In 1937, she was offered the chance of a lifetime and embarked on a career doing something she was quite adept at: gossip. Her gossip column called "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood" debuted in the Los Angeles Times on February 14 (St. Valentine's Day), 1938.[3] After years of struggling as an actress, she had finally found her niche. She christened the home she purchased in Beverly Hills "The House That Fear Built". She maintained a notorious if self-serving rivalry with the longer-established and better-liked Louella Parsons, who had formerly been friendly, sometimes even passing Hopper information. Hopper and Parsons became arch rivals competing fiercely, and often nastily, for the title "Queen of Hollywood", although those who knew both agreed that Hopper, a failed former actress, was far more vicious and unforgiving in her dealings with those who displeased her than rivals Parsons and Sheilah Graham were ever known to be.[citation needed]


Hopper was a fervent Republican. In 1944, for instance, she spoke before the massive rally organized by David O. Selznick in the Los Angeles Coliseum in support of the Dewey-Bricker ticket as well as Governor Earl Warren of California, who would become Dewey's running mate in 1948 and later the Chief Justice of the United States. The gathering drew 93,000, with Cecil B. DeMille as the master of ceremonies and Walt Disney as one of the speakers. Others in attendance included Ronald Reagan, Barbara Stanwyck, Ann Sothern, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Adolphe Menjou, Dick Powell, Gary Cooper, Edward Arnold, and William Bendix. Despite the good turnout at the rally, most Hollywood celebrities who took a public position sided with the Roosevelt-Truman ticket.[9]

Hopper strongly supported the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings and was a guest and speaker of the Women's Division at the 1956 Republican National Convention held in San Francisco to renominate the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket.[10]

Radio and television[edit]

Hopper had an acting role in a radio soap opera, playing Portia Brent on the Blue Network's Brenthouse beginning in February 1939.[11] She debuted as host of her own radio program, The Hedda Hopper Show, November 6, 1939. Sponsored by Sunkist, she was heard on CBS three times a week for 15 minutes until October 30, 1942. From October 2, 1944 to September 3, 1945, Armour Treet sponsored a once-a-week program. On September 10, 1945, she moved to ABC, still sponsored by Armour, for a weekly program that continued until June 3, 1946. Hopper moved back to CBS October 5, 1946, with a weekly 15-minute program, This Is Hollywood, sponsored by Procter & Gamble. It ran until June 28, 1947.

Expanding to 30 minutes on NBC, she was host of a variety series, The Hedda Hopper Show, broadcast from October 14, 1950 to November 11, 1950 on Saturdays, then from November 19, 1950 to May 20, 1951 on Sundays. This program featured music, talk and dramatized excerpts from movies with well-known guests, such as Broderick Crawford doing a scene from All the King's Men.

On January 10, 1960, a television special, Hedda Hopper's Hollywood, aired on NBC. Hosted by Hopper, guest interviews included a remarkably eclectic mix of past, current and future stars: Lucille Ball (a longtime friend of Hopper), Francis X. Bushman, Liza Minnelli, John Cassavetes, Robert Cummings, Marion Davies (her last public appearance), Walt Disney, Janet Gaynor, Bob Hope, Hope Lange, Anthony Perkins, Debbie Reynolds, James Stewart, and Gloria Swanson.[citation needed]

Hopper had several acting roles during the latter part of her career, including brief cameo appearances as herself in the movie Sunset Boulevard (1950) and The Patsy (1964), as well as episodes of The Martha Raye Show, I Love Lucy, The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, and The Beverly Hillbillies, starring Buddy Ebsen. Her autobiography, From Under My Hat (Doubleday, 1952) was followed by The Whole Truth and Nothing But (1962), also published by Doubleday. She remained active as a writer until her death, producing six daily columns and a Sunday column for the Chicago Tribune syndicate, as well as writing articles for celebrity magazines such as Photoplay.

Personal life[edit]

On May 8, 1913, she married actor and singer DeWolf Hopper in New Jersey. They had one child, William, who later played Paul Drake in the Perry Mason series.[12] They were divorced in 1922.[13]


Hopper died on February 1, 1966, of double pneumonia at the age of 80 in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Hollywood.[14][15] She is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery, Altoona, Pennsylvania.[16]

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Hopper has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6313½ Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.[17]

Selected filmography[edit]

1916The Battle of HeartsMaida RhodesLost film
Credited as Elda Furry
1917Her Excellency, the GovernorSylvia MarloweLost film
Credited as Elda Milar
1917The Food GamblersJune JusticeLost film
1917Seven Keys to BaldpateMyra ThornhillCredited as Elda Furry
1917Nearly MarriedHattie Kingabridged version extant
1918By Right of PurchaseSociety WomanIncomplete print
1918Virtuous WivesIrma DelabarreLost film
Credited as Mrs. DeWolf Hopper
1919The Third DegreeMrs. Howard Jeffries, SrLost film
1919Sadie LoveMrs. James Wakeley
1919The Isle of ConquestMrs. HarmonLost film
1920The Man Who Lost HimselfCountess of RochesterLost film
1920The New York IdeaVida Phillimore
1921Heedless MothsHis Wife
1921The Inner ChamberMrs. CandorLost film
Credited as Mrs. DeWolf Hopper
1921ConceitMrs. Agnes CrombieCredited as Mrs. DeWolf Hopper
1922Sherlock HolmesMadge Larrabee
1922What's Wrong with the Women?Mrs. NeerCredited as Mrs. DeWolf Hopper
1923Has the World Gone Mad!Mrs. Adams
1923RenoMrs. Kate Norton Tappan
1924Gambling WivesMadame Zoe
1924Why Men Leave HomeNina Neilson
1924HappinessMrs. Chrystal Pole
1924MiamiMary Tate
1924Another ScandalCousin Elizabeth MacKenzie
1924Sinners in SilkMrs. Stevens
1924The SnobMrs. Leiter
1925Her Market ValueMrs. Bernice Hamilton
1925DeclasséeLady Wildering
1925Dangerous InnocenceMuriel ChurchLost film
1925Zander the GreatMrs. Caldwell
1925RafflesMrs. Clarice Vidal
1925The TeaserMargaret WyndhamLost film
1925Borrowed FineryMrs. BordonLost film
1926Dance MadnessLost film
1926The CavemanMrs. Van Dream
1926Pleasures of the RichMona VincentLost film
1926Skinner's Dress SuitMrs. Colby
1926The Silver TreasureMrs. GouldLost film
1926Lew Tyler's WivesVirginia PhilipsLost film
1926Don JuanMarchesia Rinaldo
1926Fools of FashionCountess de Fragni
1926Obey The LawSociety Woman
1927Orchids and ErmineThe Modiste
1927Venus of VeniceJean's Mother
1927Matinee LadiesMrs. AldrichLost film
1927Children of DivorceKatherine Flanders
1927WingsMrs. PowellUncredited
1927The Cruel TruthGrace Sturdevant
1927Adam and EvilEleanor Leighton
1927One Woman to AnotherOlive Gresham
1927The Drop KickMrs. Hamill
1927A Reno DivorceHedda FraneLost film
1927French Dressing
1928Love and LearnMrs. Ann BlairLost film
1928The Whip WomanCountess FerenziLost film
1928The Port of Missing GirlsMrs. C. King
1928The Chorus KidMrs. Garrett
1928Harold Teen
1928Green Grass WidowsMrs. WorthingLondon
1928UndressedMrs. Stanley
1928Runaway GirlsMrs. Hartley
1928Companionate MarriageMrs. Moore
1929Girls Gone WildMrs. HolworthyLost film
1929The Last of Mrs. CheyneyLady Maria
1929His Glorious NightMrs. Collingswood Stratton
1929Half MarriageMrs. Page
1929The RacketeerMrs. Karen Lee
1929A Song of KentuckyMrs. ColemanLost film
1930Such Men Are DangerousMuriel Wyndham
1930High Society BluesMrs. Divine
1930Murder Will OutAunt Pat
1930HolidaySusan Potter
1930Let Us Be GayMadge Livingston
1930Our Blushing BridesMrs. Weaver
1930War NurseMatron
1931The Easiest WayMrs. Clara WilliamsUncredited
1931A Tailor Made ManMrs. Stanlaw
1931The Mystery TrainMrs. Marian Radcliffe
1931Flying HighMrs. Smith
1932The Man Who Played GodMrs. Alice Chittendon
1932Night WorldMrs. Rand
1932As You Desire MeInes Montari
1932Skyscraper SoulsElla Dwight
1932DownstairsCountess De Marnac
1932Speak EasilyMrs. Peets
1933Men Must FightMrs. Chase
1933The BarbarianMrs. Loway, American Tourist
1933PilgrimageMrs. Worth (Gary Worth's mother)
1933Beauty for SaleMadame Sonia Barton
1934Little Man, What Now?NurseUncredited
1935One Frightened NightLaura Proctor
1935Alice AdamsMrs. Palmer
1935I Live My LifeAlvin's Mother
1935Ship CafeTutor
1936The Dark HourMrs. Tallman
1936Dracula's DaughterLady Esme Hammond
1936Bunker BeanMrs. Dorothy Kent
1937You Can't Buy LuckMrs. Agnes White
1937TopperMrs. Stuyvesant
1937Artists and ModelsMrs. Townsend
1937Vogues of 1938Mrs. Van KletteringUncredited
1937Nothing SacredDowager on ShipUncredited
1938Tarzan's RevengePenny Reed
1938Maid's Night OutMrs. Harrison
1938Dangerous to KnowMrs. Emily Carson
1938Thanks for the MemoryPolly Griscom
1939The WomenDolly Dupuyster
1939What a LifeMrs. Aldrich
1939That's Right - You're WrongHedda Hopper - Newspaper ColumnistUncredited
1939Laugh It OffElizabeth "Lizzie" Rockingham
1940Queen of the MobMrs. Emily Sturgis
1940Cross-Country RomanceMrs. North
1941Life with HenryMrs. Aldrich
1941I Wanted WingsMrs. YoungUncredited
1942Reap the Wild WindAunt Henrietta Beresford
1950Sunset BoulevardHerself
1960PepeHerself, Cameo appearance
1964The PatsyHerself
1966The OscarHerself
1951-1963What's My Line?Herself - Mystery Guest7 episodes
1953Goodyear Television PlayhouseHostessEpisode: "A. Fadeout"
1955I Love LucyHerselfEpisode: "The Hedda Hopper Story"
1955The Colgate Comedy HourHerself - Gossip Columnist2 episodes
1956The Bob Hope ShowHerself2 episodes
1956The Tennessee Ernie Ford ShowHerselfEpisode #1.19
1957Playhouse 90Various roles2 episodes
1957The Lucy–Desi Comedy HourHerselfEpisode: "Lucy Takes a Cruise to Havana"
1958The Garry Moore ShowHerselfEpisode #1.5
1959Small WorldHerselfEpisode #2.8
1959Westinghouse Desilu PlayhouseHerselfEpisode: "The Desilu Revue"
1960Hedda Hopper's HollywoodHostTelevision special
1960The Steve Allen ShowHerselfEpisode: "The Movie Premiere of 'Can-Can'"
1961Here's HollywoodHerselfOctober 31, 1961 episode
1964The Beverly HillbilliesHerselfEpisode: "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood"
1966The New Alice in WonderlandHedda, the Mad Hatter (Voice)Television film

In popular culture[edit]


Jane Alexander received an Emmy nomination portraying Hopper in the 1985 TV film Malice in Wonderland opposite Elizabeth Taylor as Louella Parsons.

Cynthia Adler portrayed Hedda Hopper in the documentary Carmen Miranda: Bananas is My Business (1995).

She was also portrayed by Katherine Helmond in Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story, a 1995 made for TV movie, by Joanne Linville in James Dean, a 2001 made for TV movie, and by Jenn Colella in Chaplin: the musical on Broadway in 2012.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rootsweb genealogy site; accessed July 14, 2011
  2. ^ LIFE - Google Boeken. Books.google.com. 1944-11-20. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  3. ^ Hedda Hopper Timeline[dead link]
  4. ^ Silvester, Christopher (2002). The Grove Book of Hollywood. Grove Press. p. 352. ISBN 0-8021-3878-0. 
  5. ^ Stephens, Autumn (1998). Drama Queens: Wild Women of the Silver Screen. Conari. p. 202. ISBN 1-57324-136-9. 
  6. ^ Kanfer, Stefan (2011). Tough Without A Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart. Borzoi Books (Random House). p. 86. ISBN 978-0-307-27100-6. 
  7. ^ Eells, George (1972). Hedda and Louella. G.P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 260–262. 
  8. ^ Salad Days by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. c. 1980
  9. ^ David M. Jordan, FDR, Dewey, and the Election of 1944 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2011), pp. 231-232
  10. ^ Frost, Jennifer (2011). Hedda Hopper's Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism. NYU Press. pp. 139–140. ISBN 0-814-72824-3. 
  11. ^ Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 118.
  12. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus. p. 497. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
  13. ^ Houseman, Victoria (1991). Made in Heaven: The Marriages and Children of Hollywood Stars. Bonus Books. p. 150. ISBN 0-929387-24-4. 
  14. ^ "Hedda Hopper, Columnist, Dies; Chronicled Gossip of Hollywood; Confidante of Leading Stars Noted for Flamboyant Hats and Caustic Comments". Associated Press in New York Times. February 2, 1966. Retrieved 2009-02-03. Hedda Hopper, the Hollywood gossip columnist, died in Cedars of Lebanon Hospital today of double pneumonia with heart complications. She was 75 (sic) years old. 
  15. ^ Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Omnibus. p. 498. ISBN 1-84449-430-6. 
  16. ^ O'Toole, Christine (2012). Pennsylvania Off the Beaten Path®, 11th: A Guide to Unique Places. Globe Pequot. p. 158. ISBN 0-762-78615-9. 
  17. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk". latimes.com. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]