Archive for the ‘Miriam Hopkins’ Category

The Story of Temple Drake

Saturday, June 6th, 2009


The Story of Temple Drake


The Story of Temple Drake


The following is an unsourced review of the film,
The Story of Temple Drake (1933)


Those who are supposed to know about the motion picture business were pretty sure that Paramount would never be able to get a version of “Sanctuary” that would get past the censors. Yet Paramount did it and though the story is deodorized and generally spring-cleaned, it still carries the punch and wallop that it packed as a novel.


Miriam Hopkins, who is actually far too lovely for just one woman, has the role of the little southern girl and Jack La Rue bagged the role that George Raft turned down. William Gargan, who has certainly found his ideal working conditions in Hollywood, plays the man “who is too good to be married to anyone like me.” And, once more, he does a grand job with it.


“Sanctuary,” by William Faulkner, was labeled one of the most sensational stories ever written. Though much of the caustic characterizations must, of necessity, be lost on the way to the screen, there is still enough left to make this production one of the cinematic thrills of the season.


Miriam Hopkins bit off a large mouthful… and your reviewer certainly never thought that any real sympathy could be secured for the characters of Mr. Faulkner’s novel — they rang too strange and false — yet that is just what Miriam does. And she deserves your praise and attention.


We think you’d better go to see it.


Someone has downloaded the entire film onto the You Tube web site. If you haven’t seen the film, here is a chance to enjoy a classic pre-code film that is not available on DVD. NOTE: The film is broken up into approximately 10 minute segments.  Part 1 is below.







Miriam Hopkins Biography…

Friday, January 9th, 2009


Miriam Hopkins


Miriam Hopkins


As most of you know, I am currently working on a biography of Miriam Hopkins. I was recently interviewed by Andre Soares from the web site, Alternative Film Guide about the controversial actress. Click HERE to read PART ONE of the interview – and HERE for PART TWO. Let us know your thoughts. Enjoy!



Miriam Hopkins Birthday…

Saturday, October 18th, 2008


Miriam Hopkins



October 18, 1902 – October 9, 1972



Anniversary of Miriam Hopkins’ Death….

Thursday, October 9th, 2008


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.



Miriam Hopkins in Ritzy…

Saturday, September 6th, 2008







Many are unaware that Miriam Hopkins had a ten-year career in theatre in the 1920s long before she ever set foot on a film stage. During that time she appeared in her share of hits and flops. Unfortunately Ritzy may be considered in the latter, unless of course, you believe the shows publicity which stated, “Hilarious howls greeted the opening performance of Ernest Truex…” “Received with laughter that grew in volume as the play progressed…”


 The Longacre Theater at 220 West 48th Street, New York


Ritzy premiered at New York’s Longacre Theatre on West 48th Street on February 10, 1930. Besides Hopkins, the cast included Ernest Truex, Katharine Renwick, J. H. Brewer, Josephine Evans, Effie Afton, John Junior and Sidney Riggs. It was written and directed by Sidney Toler who later gained fame playing Charlie Chan in films.



SYNOPSIS: Edgar and Nancy Smith (Truex and Hopkins) are discovered in their one-room-and-visible-bath suite in a New York Hotel. It looks like an ordinary Smith day with Edgar getting the breakfast, taking a shower, raising the blinds and talking with his wife about hope for a raise.


Then comes Lawyer Peabody (J. H. Brewer) with news that the late Uncle Peter has left Mrs. Smith $200,000. Edgar throws up his job and both go shopping for country homes. They ask some old friends in for a celebration dinner – and leave them flat when the Jackson Potters of Park Avenue ask them over for a cocktail. The friends spend a miserable time waiting and drinking, and when the Smiths finally arrive Edgar is accused of being ritzy.


Up pops Peabody with the long expected news, that there has been a mistake. With no money and no job, the  Smith’s are properly crestfallen, until Edgar’s  ex-boss telephones to offer him $25,000 a year and a $20,000 commission on the insurance Edgar sold to Jackson Potter.





 Theatre program for “Ritzy” (click on image to enlarge)




“Miriam Hopkins, as fetching as ever, had good opportunity to parade in some lovely, becoming frocks, pajamas and… Mr. Sumner,… chemise.” – Theatre Magazine, April 1930


“Miriam Hopkins gives a deft and persuasive performance as the young wife…” – unsourced


“As a study of how to spend 200,000 non-existant dollars, its trifling plot (which brewed busily but not so merrily for two hours) hardly needed the services of two players as competent as Mr. Truex and Miss Hopkins, though what it would have done without them is also something of a problem.” – New York Times, February 11, 1930


“Miriam Hopkins, as Mrs. Smith, is attractive in several sets of underwear and pajamas.” – unsourced



I am currently working on a biography of Miriam Hopkins. If you have any information on her or you know someone that knew her, please contact me at: Thank you.



Miriam Hopkins on TCM…

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008


Lady With Red Hair (1940)


 Miriam Hopkins as Mrs. Leslie Carter


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1:30 a.m. Pacific
4:30 a.m. Eastern


In the wee hours of tomorrow morning, Turner Classic Movies is showing the Miriam Hopkins bio-pic, The Lady with Red Hair (1940) with co-star Claude Rains. There are top-notch performances from the cast, along with quality production values and an outstanding directorial effort by Kurt Bernhardt, which are the distinctive features of this screen recreation of the career of stage actress, Mrs. Leslie Carter.


The film embraces the life of Mrs. Carter from the time of her famous divorce trial in Chicago, in which she lost the custody of her son, through her determination to become an actress to earn the money needed to reopen the fight for her child, her storming of the Belasco citadel, his creation of her success and the violent break between them, to their ultimate reconciliation, at the crucial moment of her career.







Mrs. Leslie Carter



Mrs. Leslie Carter (née Caroline Louise Dudley) was born in 1862 in Louisville, Kentucky, and died in 1937 in Santa Monica, California. Termed the “Bernhardt of America” at the turn of the century, Mrs. Carter was an international stage star of the “emotional” school of acting. She achieved her greatest fame in a quartet of plays produced between 1895 and 1905 under the direction of Director/Playwright David Belasco.


As the tempestuous Mrs. Carter, Miriam Hopkins gives a vivid and fascinating portrayal in an exacting and difficult role. But it is Claude Rains, who, for his magnificent and powerful delineation of the tempermental David Belasco, that top performance honors are accorded. Superlative too is Helen Westley’s portrait of the hard-boiled proprietress of a theatrical boarding house who knows all the answers.



While researching my biography of the life of Miriam Hopkins, I delved through the Warner Bros. Archives and came across the daily production log sheets that were kept during the making of “Lady with Red Hair.” Reproduced below is a one-day report during that production:












To Mr. T. C. Wright

From Mr. Eric Stacey

Date: October 3, 1940

Subject: #326 “LADY WITH RED HAIR”


Report for 10-2-40:



Bernhardt company with a 9:00 o’clock call in the PRIVATE DINING ROOM, obtained their first shot at 9:15AM and finished shooting at 6:20PM, covering one scene, 6 added scenes, 3’47” in time, 16 set-ups and 5-1/2 pages of dialogue.


As already reported, Miss HOPKINS failed to show for work this morning and company has been moved to Vitagraph where they will endeavor to pick up a few shots involving RAINS and JOHN LITEL in the last sequence, which is still being rewritten. We have the writer, Charles Kenyon, over at Vitagraph to keep Bernhardt straight.


I have just talked with Miss HOPKINS who will not be in for the balance of the day, and will not even come in for fittings. In the event she does not report for work tomorrow, FRIDAY, will remain at Vitagraph and shoot audience reactions, using 125 people. This will be a full day’s work and then also shoot one page of BACKSTAGE – Murray Production sequence – not involving Miss HOPKINS. The scene just came out this morning, OCTOBER 3RD.


This delay will put us one more day behind, and cannot hope to complete the picture before WEDNESDAY, 10/9, which will be 14 days behind schedule, with two additional days, THURSDAY and FRIDAY, for Montages and audience reactions, to be made by Siegel.


Production 10-1/2 days behind.











Allan Does New York…

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

New York City Highlights



 Times Square


by Allan R. Ellenberger


Recently I returned from a trip to New York City where I did research for my Miriam Hopkins biography. I also spent time with some good friends who showed me the greatest hospitality. Thanks again to Adam, Steve, Joe and Arlene.


During my stay, I accessed information from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the Museum of the City of New York and had a charming visit with media legend, Joe Franklin.


The Billy Rose Collection at the NYPL is a great resource especially for the theatre. Miriam Hopkins was exclusive to Broadway from 1921 to 1931 and returned on occasion for the next thirty years. In future postings I will document her stage appearances. At the library, I also perused the papers of Chamberlain and Lyman Brown who served as theatrical agents for Hopkins for more than twenty years. The Cheryl Crawford papers gave me information on the making of the Broadway play, The Perfect Marriage, that starred Hopkins and Victor Jory and was produced by Crawford.


The Museum of the City of New York has archives that cover the entire history of Broadway. I was able to go through files for every play that Hopkins appeared in.


In future posts I will concentrate on a few New York film related landmarks. For now, here are photos from my visit of some popular New York sites. Please “click” on image to enlarge.









Miriam Hopkins Update…

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Finding Miriam’s Grandfather



Miriam Hopkins’ grandfather


by Allan R. Ellenberger


Being born in Georgia, Miriam Hopkins has always been thought of as a “southern belle.” While it’s true that Hopkins was born in Savannah and her mother’s side of the family are southern, her father’s side are true Yankees originating from central Pennsylvania. By chance, I was also born and raised in central Pennsylvania, not far from where the Hopkins clan are from.


During my research, I discovered that Miriam’s paternal grandfather, Isaac Cramer Hopkins, was buried in Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania, only twenty miles from where I was born. On a recent trip home to visit family, I treked that twenty miles and found Isaac, who died in in 1882, when Miriam’s father Homer Hopkins, was only ten years old. Miriam’s grandmother, Mary Ann Glenn Hopkins (1831-1915) is buried next to Isaac, however, she has no headstone. It is doubtful that Miriam ever visited her grandfathers grave as her mother was not a fan of the Hopkins family.


Unfortunately, the lengthy inscription at the bottom of the headstone is worn away from over one-hundred years of harsh central Pennsylvania winters. If you click on the above image it will super-size the photo and perhaps someone can decipher part of the inscription.



 A wider view of the Hopkins grave and Phillipsburg Cemetery.



Footstone of Hopkins grave



Bette Davis Film Series at LACMA

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

LACMA’s Tribute to Screen Legend, Bette Davis


May 3, 2008


By Allan R. Ellenberger


LOS ANGELES – Last evening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) Bing theater, the new Bette Davis stamp was officially unveiled by the U. S. Postal Service. TCM host, Robert Osborne, hosted the event which also began the museums month-long-tribute series of films to the actress: Fasten Your Seat Belts: The Essential Bette Davis.


On the 100th anniversary of her birth, the Davis commemorative stamp will be the 14th in the Legends of Hollywood Series by the U.S. Postal Service. The stamp is a beautiful portrait of Davis from the classic film, All About Eve (1951).



LACMA’s film series began with screenings of her Academy Award winning Jezebel (1938) and The Old Maid (1939) with Miriam Hopkins. This was an interesting combination of films and I wonder if it was a conscious effort on the museums part or simply a coincidence. The Old Maid of course co-starred Davis’ long-time nemesis Miriam Hopkins, who also appeared in the original Broadway version of Jezebel (1933-34). Hopkins originally wanted to star in the film version and even owned a piece of the play, however, Warner Bros. made promises that they never kept and she was ultimately pushed out of the film. This was just one of the many reasons for Hopkins dislike for Davis.



Miriam Hopkins and Bette Davis in The Old Maid

 Miriam Hopkins (l) and Bette Davis (r) in The Old Maid (1939) (© Allan R. Ellenberger)



Kathryn Cermak, Davis’ long-time companion at the end of her life, also attended the event. After the stamps unveiling, Osborne, in his introduction of Cermak, revealed that she had never seen All About Eve or Jezebel. That is remarkable considering the years she spent with the actress.


LACMA’s salute to the legendary Bette Davis continues until May 31 and includes screenings of All About Eve (1950) and Of Human Bondage (1934) (May 3), The Letter (1940) and Beyond the Forest (1949) (May 9), Now, Voyager (1942) and Old Acquaintance (1943) (May 10), The Little Foxes (1941) and Payment on Demand (1951) (May 17), Dark Victory (1939) and Marked Woman (1937) (May 23), The Star (1942) and The Catered Affair (1956) (May 24), and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and The Nanny (1965) (May 31). All screenings begin at 7:30 p.m.


For a complete listing of films, showtimes and ticket prices, please see LACMA’s site for more information.


Check out photos from Thursday’s (May 1) Centenial Tribute to Bette Davis at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the Alternative Film Guide:




Miriam Hopkins Update…

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Miriam Hopkins charm

I first began working on my biography of Miriam Hopkins in earnest almost a year ago, once I had turned in my manuscript for Celebrities in the 1930 Census. By then I had met and interviewed Hopkins son Michael, his wife and their son. I had decided that I wasn’t going to do the biography unless I could find her family and get their cooperation. Fortunately they were very receptive and have allowed me into their lives on several occasions.

Once I received their cooperation, I began doing the rounds of the local libraries and archives. As usual, the staff at the Margaret Herrick Library at the Academy have been a huge help. I spent a week in New York doing research (I will be returning to New York next month) at the Billy Rose Theatre Collection of the New York Public Library. The archivists at the Warner Brothers Archives have also been very accommodating.

Interviewing people who knew Hopkins has been a treat – that is, if I can get them to talk to me. Of the letters I have sent, I have about a 50% success rate of cooperation. So far just some of the people I have contacted include, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Olivia De Havilland, Doris Eaton, Leatrice Gilbert-Fountain, Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., Brook Hayward, Dick (Dickie) Jones, Arthur Laurents, Nicola Lubitsch, A C Lyles, Paul Mayer, Andrew Prine, Nancy Reagan, Franchesca Robinson-Sanchez, Aram Saroyan, Lizabeth Scott, Marian Seldes, Daniel Selznick, Belinda Vidor, Michael Westmore and Joe Yranski.



Of those I am still waiting to hear from are:

Ed Begley, Jr (his father appeared with Hopkins in the Broadway play, Look Homeward Angel); Horton Foote (screenwriter of The Chase); Beverly Garland (appeared with Hopkins in the play, Happy Birthday); Jo Hammett (daughter of Dashiel Hammett); Dale Robertson (costar, The Outcasts of Poker Flat); Barbara Rush (television costar); Budd Schulberg (son of B. P. Schulberg, head of Paramount); Judith Wyler (daughter of William Wyler); Gloria Stuart; Buck Taylor (costar, The Outer Limits); Dick Van Patten (costar in the Broadway play, The Skin of OUr Teeth) ;Joyce Van Patten (costar in the Broadway play, The Perfect Marriage); Gore Vidal (wrote teleplay); Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (costar in the play, The Heiress )

AND, some people I don’t have contact information for:

Jane Bryan (The Old Maid); Jackie Cooper; Maria Cooper (daughter of Gary Cooper); James Cromwell (son of director John Cromwell); Nina Foch; Julie Garfield (daughter of John Garfield); John Kerr; Judy Lewis (daughter of Loretta Young); Jody McCrea (son of Joel McCrea); Arthur Penn (The Chase); Melinda Plowman (The Outer Limits); Maria Riva (daughter of Marlene Dietrich); Leticia Roman (Fanny Hill); Johnny Russell (Lady with Red Hair); Virginia Wing (Savage Intruder); Catherine Wyler.

If you know any of the above people or can help with contact information, it would be appreciated.