Miriam Hopkins

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Miriam Hopkins
Miriam Hopkins.jpg
Born Ellen Miriam Hopkins
(1902-10-18)October 18, 1902
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Died October 9, 1972(1972-10-09) (aged 69)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart Attack
Occupation Actress
Years active 1928–1970
Spouse(s) Brandon Peters (1926–27)
Austin Parker (1928–31)
Anatole Litvak (1937–39)
Raymond B. Brock (1945–51)
Children Michael T. Hopkins (1932–2010)

Ellen Miriam Hopkins (October 18, 1902 – October 9, 1972) was an American actress known for her versatility in a wide variety of roles.[1]

Hopkins was born in Savannah, Georgia, and raised in Bainbridge, near the Alabama border. She attended Goddard Seminary in Barre, Vermont (which later became Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont) and Syracuse University (in New York), but apparently did not graduate.

Career[edit]

At age 20, Hopkins became a chorus girl in New York City. In 1930, she signed with Paramount Pictures, and made her official film debut in Fast and Loose. Her first great success was in the 1931 horror drama film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which she portrayed the character Ivy Pearson, a prostitute who becomes entangled with Jekyll and Hyde. Hopkins received rave reviews, but because of the potential controversy of the film and her character, many of her scenes were cut before the official release. This reduced Hopkins' screen time to approximately five minutes.[2]

Nevertheless her career ascended swiftly thereafter and in 1932 she scored her breakthrough in Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise, where she proved her charm and wit as a beautiful and jealous pickpocket. During the pre-code Hollywood of the early 1930s, she appeared in The Smiling Lieutenant, The Story of Temple Drake and Design for Living, all of which were box office successes and critically acclaimed.[3] Her pre-code films were also considered risqué for their time, with The Story of Temple Drake depicting a rape scene and Design for Living featuring a ménage à trois with Fredric March and Gary Cooper. Hopkins also had great success during the remainder of the decade with the romantic screwball comedy The Richest Girl in the World (1934), the historical drama Becky Sharp (1935), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, Barbary Coast (1935), These Three (1936) (the first of four films with director William Wyler) and The Old Maid (1939). Hopkins was one of the first actresses approached to play the role of Ellie Andrews in It Happened One Night (1934). However, she famously rejected the part.[4] She auditioned for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, having one advantage none of the other candidates had: she was a native Georgian. But the part went to Vivien Leigh.

Hopkins had well-publicized fights with her arch-enemy Bette Davis (Hopkins believed Davis was having an affair with Hopkins' husband at the time, Anatole Litvak), when they co-starred in their two films The Old Maid (1939) and Old Acquaintance (1943).[5] Davis admitted to enjoying very much a scene in Old Acquaintance in which she shakes Hopkins forcefully during a scene where Hopkins' character makes unfounded allegations against Davis's. There were even press photos taken with both divas in a boxing ring with gloves up and director Vincent Sherman between the two.

Hopkins and Herbert Marshall in a publicity photo for Trouble in Paradise (1932)

After Old Acquaintance, Hopkins did not work again in films until The Heiress (1949), where she played the lead character's aunt. In Mitchell Leisen's 1951's screwball comedy The Mating Season, she gave a comic performance as Gene Tierney's character's mother. She also acted in The Children's Hour, which is the theatrical basis of her film These Three (1936). In the remake, she played the aunt to Shirley MacLaine, while MacLaine took Hopkins' original role.

Hopkins was a television pioneer, performing in teleplays in three decades, spanning the late 1940s through the late 1960s, in such programs as The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre (1949), Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1951), Lux Video Theatre (1951–1955), The Outer Limits (1964) and even an episode of The Flying Nun in 1969.

She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for motion pictures at 1701 Vine Street, and one for television at 1708 Vine Street.

Private life[edit]

Hopkins was married and divorced four times: first to actor Brandon Peters, second to aviator, screenwriter Austin Parker, third to the director Anatole Litvak, and fourth to war correspondent Raymond B. Brock. In 1932, Hopkins adopted a son, Michael T. Hopkins (March 29, 1932 – October 5, 2010).

Hopkins died in New York City from a heart attack nine days before her 70th birthday.

Hopkins was a staunch Democrat who strongly supported the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.[6]

Hopkins maternal great-grandfather, the fourth mayor of Bainbridge, helped establish the community's Episcopal Church, where Miriam sang in the choir.[7]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1930 Fast and Loose Marion Lenox Hopkins's film debut
1931 Smiling Lieutenant, TheThe Smiling Lieutenant Princess Anna The first of three films Hopkins made with Lubitsch
1931 24 Hours Rosie Duggan
1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Ivy Pearson
1932 Two Kinds of Women Emma Krull
1932 Dancers in the Dark Gloria Bishop
1932 World and the Flesh Maria Yaskaya
1932 Trouble in Paradise Lily Second film directed by Lubitsch and starring Hopkins
1933 Story of Temple Drake, TheThe Story of Temple Drake Temple Drake
1933 Stranger's Return, TheThe Stranger's Return Louise Starr
1933 Design for Living Gilda Farrell Third and final film Hopkins and Lubitsch made together
1934 All of Me Lydia Darrow
1934 She Loves Me Not Curly Flagg
1934 Richest Girl in the World, TheThe Richest Girl in the World Dorothy Hunter First of five films Hopkins and McCrea made together
1935 Becky Sharp Becky Sharp Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress
The first feature film made in the three strip technicolor process
1935 Barbary Coast Mary 'Swan' Rutledge Second film starring Hopkins and McCrea
1935 Splendor Phyllis Manning Lorrimore Third film starring Hopkins and McCrea
1936 These Three Martha Dobie The film was adapted from the 1934 play The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman.
Fourth film starring Hopkins and McCrea
1936 Men Are Not Gods Ann Williams
1937 Woman I Love, TheThe Woman I Love Madame Helene Maury Hopkins married director Anatole Litvak shortly after this film was made.
It is the only film Hopkins made with Paul Muni
1937 Woman Chases Man Virginia Travis Final film Hopkins and McCrea made together
1937 Wise Girl Susan 'Susie' Fletcher
1939 Old Maid, TheThe Old Maid Delia Lovell Ralston The first of two films Hopkins made with Bette Davis
1940 Virginia City Julia Hayne Hopkins co-starred with Errol Flynn
1940 Lady with Red Hair Mrs. Leslie Carter
1942 Gentleman After Dark, AA Gentleman After Dark Flo Melton
1943 Old Acquaintance Millie Drake Second of two films Hopkins made with Bette Davis.
1949 Heiress, TheThe Heiress Aunt Lavinia Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1951 Mating Season, TheThe Mating Season Fran Carleton
1952 The Outcasts of Poker Flat Mrs. Shipton/'The Duchess'
1952 Carrie Julie Hurstwood
1961 Children's Hour, TheThe Children's Hour Lily Mortar Hopkins had starred in the original film adaptation of the play The Children's Hour entitled These Three in the role of Martha Dobie. In this film Shirley MacLaine played Martha and Miriam Hopkins played her Aunt Lily.
1964 Fanny Hill Mrs. Maude Brown
1966 Chase, TheThe Chase Mrs. Reeves Hopkins played the mother of Robert Redford's character
1970 Savage Intruder Katharine Parker Hopkins's last film

Short Subjects:

  • "The Home Girl" (1928)
  • "Hollywood on Parade No. B-1" (1933)

References[edit]

External links[edit]