Peggy Hopkins Joyce
|Peggy Hopkins Joyce|
Peggy Hopkins Joyce in 1925
May 26, 1893
|Died||June 12, 1957
New York City, New York
|Spouse(s)||Everett Archibald, Jr. (m.1910)
Sherburne Hopkins (1913–15)
J. Stanley Joyce (1920–21)
Gustave Morner (1924–28)
Anthony Easton (m.1945)
Andrew Meyer (1953–57)
Peggy Hopkins Joyce (May 26, 1893 – June 12, 1957) was an American actress and celebrity, famed as much for her several marriages to wealthy men, colorful divorces, scandalous affairs, her diamonds and generally lavish lifestyle as for her work on stage or screen.
Born Marguerite Upton in Berkley, Virginia, she was known as "Peggy", a traditional nickname for Margaret or Marguerite. "Hopkins" and "Joyce" were the surnames of her second and third husbands, respectively (of six overall). Upton left home at the age of 15, running away with a vaudeville trick bicyclist. Her first marriage to "Borax King" Everett Archer had been annulled when she was found to be underage. She soon left husband Stanley Joyce for the Parisian playboy Henri Letellier, but avoided marriage, saying, "Frenchmen understand women too well. A girl should never marry a man who understands women." A marriage with Swedish Count Gosta Morner, her fourth, lasted but a few months.
She debuted on the Broadway stage in 1917 in the Ziegfeld Follies, following this up with an appearance in the Shuberts' "A Sleepless Night." Lee Shubert became her lover for a time, a roster which included Irving Thalberg, Walter Chrysler and Charlie Chaplin, who based part of his film A Woman of Paris on stories Joyce told him about her previous marriage. Sweden's future King Gustav VI was also rumored to be among her lovers.
In the spring of 1920, the newly married Mrs. Joyce drew attention for a $1 million shopping spree over the course of a week's time. By 1922, Joyce's romantic escapades had made her one of the most written-about women in the American press. She would grant any interview, sometimes receiving reporters in her bedroom while wearing a sheer negligee. Cole Porter and Irving Berlin both used her name in their lyrics, The New Yorker ran cartoons mentioning her, and Will Rogers could get a laugh by invoking her reputation.
Joyce caused a sensation in the 1923 installment of the annual Earl Carroll's Vanities. She made her film debut in 1926's "The Skyrocket," which provoked the Wisconsin state legislature into introducing a bill that would allow for the censorship of all movies entering the state; in any event, the film was a box office failure. In 1930, Joyce released a ghostwritten tell-all book reputedly taken from her steamy diary entries. "Men, Marriage and Me" advised, "True love was a heavy diamond bracelet, preferably one that arrived with its price tag intact." In 1933, she played herself in the ramshackle film, International House, which contained some good-natured joshing about Joyce's love life. A W.C. Fields punchline about Joyce sitting on her pussy (revealed to be an actual cat) upset the Hays Office, which began censoring films the following year in response to such material.
PEGGY: I'm sitting on something! I'm sitting on something! FIELDS: I lost mine in the stock market!
Recounting a meeting with Joyce that occurred in the late 1920s, Harpo Marx reported that she was illiterate. Nonetheless, she was credited with a column for several years in the early 1930s to the spicy New York publication Varieties (not to be confused with the show business trade publication Variety). The column gave racy news about hijinks and goings-on in both New York and London.
Peggy Hopkins Joyce died in New York City in 1957 of throat cancer, aged 64.
References in popular culture
Her name was frequently incorporated into song lyrics of the 1920s and 1930s to invoke images of excess and naughtiness.
- "I've Got Five Dollars" by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart includes: "Peggy Joyce has a business/All her husbands have gold..."
- In Cole Porter's "Why Shouldn't I?" (from Jubilee), referring to love, the Princess sings "Miss Peggy Joyce says it's good, and every star out in far Hollywood seems to give it a try, so why shouldn't I?"
- In Cole Porter's "They Couldn't Compare to You" (from Out of This World), the god Mercury sings of his affairs with women real and fictional through history: "... When betwixt Nell Gwyn / And Anne Boleyn / I was forced to make my choice, / I became so confused / I was even amused / And abused by Peggy Joyce..."
- Cole Porter's "Which" asks, "Should I make one man my choice/and regard divorce as treason/or should I like Peggy Joyce/have a new one every season?"
- Eddie Cantor sang, "Take Peggy Joyce / With little voice / She soon became the nation's choice! / I tell you, buddy / She's made a study / Of makin' whoopee."
- Zora Neale Hurston refers to Peggy Hopkins Joyce in her essay entitled "How It Feels To Be Colored Me". Hurston compares her own positive self-image to Joyce as "aristocratic" and declared that Joyce has "nothing on me".
/* In 1925's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," Anita Loos wrote, "And all of we girls remember the time when he was in the Ritz for luncheon and he met a gentleman friend of his and the gentleman friend had Peggy Hopkins Joyce to luncheon and he introduced Peggy Hopkins Joyce to Mr. Spoffard and Mr. Spoffard turned on his heels and walked away. Because Mr. Spoffard is a very very famous Prespyterian and he is really much to Prespyterian to meet Peggy Hopkins Joyce."
Arthur Train had her make an appearance in his 1930 Wall Street novel Paper Profits. Under the name of "Miss Boyce", she gives vapid sex lectures on the topic of "Why You *Should* Marry", and wiggles her torso a lot. This is one of several vignettes meant to show the wild side of life in the 1920s before the great Stock Market Crash of 1929.
In Damon Runyon's short story "The Lily of St Pierre", when the narrator criticises the quality of the hostesses in Good Time Charley Bernstein's speakeasies, Charley "admits that I may be right, but he says that it is very difficult to get any Peggy Joyces for twenty-five bobs per week".
- The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/04/09/reviews/000409.09fellert.html
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- Harpo Marx, Harpo Speaks! (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961; Freeway Press, 1974) p. 257-8
- "How it Feels to Be Colored Me"
- Train, Arthur (1930). Paper Profits.
- Gold Digger: The Outrageous Life and Times of Peggy Hopkins Joyce by Constance Rosenblum (2000) Henry Holt & Company (ISBN 0-8050-5089-2)
- Peggy Hopkins Joyce at the Internet Broadway Database
- Peggy Hopkins Joyce at the Internet Movie Database
- Peggy Hopkins Joyce at Find a Grave