36 YEARS AGO TODAY
Miriam Hopkins, Veteran Of Film and Stage, Dies
October 18, 1902 – October 9, 1972
Diminutive blond actress Miriam Hopkins, who left the ranks of Broadway hoofers to gain stardom in Hollywood in the 1930s, died thirty-six years ago today at the Hotel Alrae (37 East 64th Street), apparently of a heart attack. She was 69.
She made her first film, Fast and Loose, in 1930, and for the next 35 years starred in an average of one a year. Her last major motion pictures were The Chase (1963) and Fanny Hill: A Memoir of a Woman of Pleasure (1964). Some of Hopkins’ more memorable movies included Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Story of Temple Drake (1933), Design for Living (1933), Becky Sharp (1935), These Three (1936) and The Heiress (1949).
“Me temperamental?” she once remarked concerning a reputation she gained on the movie lots. “I never was. Proof of that is that I made four pictures for Willie Wyler, who is a very demanding director. I made two with Rouben Mamoulian, who is the same.
“When you are asked to work again with such directors, you cannot be temperamental.”
As for her rumored feuds with Bette Davis, with whom she costarred in The Old Maid (1939), and Old Acquaintance (1943), Hopkins declared:
“Utter rubbish. The Warners’ publicity department tried to dream that one up. They even wanted us to pose with boxing gloves on (see below). Bette and I got along fine.”
Bette Davis, Edmund Goulding and Miriam Hopkins
Between movies, Hopkins returned to Broadway to appear in such productions as Jezebel, The Skin of Our Teeth, A Perfect Marriage, and Look Homeward Angel.
Hopkins came to New York in mid-July of 1972 to help inaugurate a showing of old movies at the Museum of Modern Art, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Paramount Studios. The first film shown was The Story of Temple Drake, in which she starred.
Taken ill, Hopkins was treated at Harkness Pavilion of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, until September 2 when she was released. After that she remained in her suite at the Hotel Alrae.
A native of Savannah, Georgia, Hopkins attended Goddard, a small private college in Plainfield, Vermont, and Syracuse University. Stage struck, she headed for Broadway in the waning 1920s. She got a job in the inaugural chorus of The Music Box Revue (1921) and later danced at the Garrick Theater.
She first won recognition in 1926 in An American Tragedy. Among her other plays were Lysistrata (1930) and The Batchelor Father (1929).
She was married to actor, Brandon Peters in 1926, to writer, Austin Parker in 1931, to director, Anatole Litvak in 1937 and to New York Times correspondent, Ray Brock in 1945. She remained single after her last marriage ended in divorce in 1951.
Funeral services for Hopkins were held on October 13th in the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation, Madison Avenue at 35th Street.
At the time, Hopkins was survived by a sister, Ruby Welch; a niece, actress, Margot Welch; an adopted son, Air Force Sgt. Michael Hopkins and his wife, Christine, and a grandson, Thomas.
Miriam Hopkins was cremated and buried in the family plot at Oak City Cemetery in Bainbridge, Georgia, where she spent a portion of her childhood.