Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.
Hollywood Costumer and Power Broker
Ms. Hedda Hopper was a star of silent films and B movies in old Hollywood, making 120 movies in all. After her acting career ended, Ms. Hopper became an assistant costume designer. Remember, this was the Golden Age of Hollywood when studios included elaborate costumes in films and on stage, especially during massive production numbers.
Hedda and Hats
Hedda's specialty was the hat and she made hats and wore them with gusto. She accumulated fame for showing up at all manner of events in a fresh, new hat. Many of her creations were outrageous and she became famous for them. In fact, her name is synonymous with "hat" in Hollywood history.
Ms. Hopper's fashion style provided her with enough renown that it acted as a springboard toward securing her own Hollywood gossip column, called Hedda Hopper's Hollywood. She and Louella Parsons, another gossip columnist of the era, raised celebrity gossip to a science and an art form that increased newspaper circulation and sales.
The Hopper/Parsons Effect
All this publicity, in turn, fueled the film box office for greater success and even more gossip. Thus, the cycle of Hollywood incomes advanced. Today's celebrity news and gossip media is directly descended Hopper and Parsons, including shows like Access Hollywood, Extra, US Magazine, TMZ and dozens of others. Websites have added to this entertainment genre since the 1990s.
Hedda Hopper's first syndicated column ran on Valentine's Day on February 14, 1938, and that was shortly followed by a national radio show. She was not only famous, she was becoming politically powerful.
The FBI, Ronald Reagan and Howard Hughes
At the US National Archives, Hedda Hopper has an FBI file that is two inches thick. It was at once time delivered to her grandson, Gordon P. Williams, the adopted son of William Hopper, who played Paul Drake in the Perry Mason TV series.
At one time, a webpage with information from his experiences and the large FBI file was posted by Williams. Hedda was apparently so influential that she could make sure that a Hollywood actor lost his or her livelihood with just a few words in her column or on her radio program. Ronald Reagan was one actor that came under her influence.
Hopper was Pro-Blacklist
Howard Hughes was a good friend and inspected every plane she rode. J. Edgar Hoover reportedly supplied her with gossip about Hollywood "communists." Unfortunately, some stars blacklisted by the 1950s government as communist and communist sympathizers, considered dangerous to the US, never worked again. Some died in poverty.
Ms. Hedda Hopper staunchly advocated the workings of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and its hearings, especially against non-Republican actors. She was a featured speaker of the Women's Division at the 1956 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, supporting Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Word has it that Hopper supposedly helped Ronald Reagan rise to the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). It was at this time that he switched parties from the Democrats to the Republicans.
How much influence did Hedda Hopper have on the American Film Industry? Quite a lot. I remember hearing snippets of her presentations rebroadcast in the late 1960s and I thought they were very incriminating, even extreme.
Staunch Conservative Icon
Hedda Hopper has been described in Jennifer Frost's Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism as having a severe conservative bent, enjoying any opportunity to use her newspaper columns and radio shows to “expose” Democrats and "other leftists" as hypocrites.
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She was especially prolific during the New Deal Era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, an economic, business, and social welfare program that she detested.
These are quotes Hedda made about Hollywood actors and actresses. She was sarcastic and biting in her criticism and may have targeted some for communist blacklisting.
She looks like she combs her hair with an egg beater.
At one time I thought he wanted to be an actor. He had certain qualifications, including no money and a total lack of responsibility.
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
Ronald Reagan: Government Informer
The New York Times ran a story during autumn 2012 about Ronald Reagan's "secret spy" ring. Although he warned in speeches about Big Government becoming Big Brother and "creeping socialism," journalist Seth Rosenfeld found that Reagan's actions in real life opposed his comments. In fact, Rosenfeld found that Reagan had been a government informer in return for political help from J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI.
Rosenfeld wrote that in 1946, FBI agents appeared at Reagan's home in California and warned him of Communists that had sneaked into a liberal organization of which the actor was a member. He quit and became an informant, apparently opening up Screen Actors Guild files to the FBI while he was president of SAG. The FBI went on to aid Reagan in several family matters and the student protests in California during his term as Governor.
© 2008 Patty Inglish MS
Comments and Rumors
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on July 19, 2010:
That is good ot know, Bryohnayy. Hope it goes well for you.
Bryohnayy on July 19, 2010:
Thank you for making this site! It was really useful for my drama assignment :)
Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 19, 2008:
Thank you steh. The part with J. Edgar Hoover, somehow I'm not surprised,
Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on February 19, 2008:
Patty - this is fabulous and very interesting. I love all the photos and that Time Magazine cover. Great article, as always.