Posts Tagged ‘austin parker’

Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

*This is a passage that never made it into my upcoming biography, Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel, to be published on January 5, 2018 by the University Press of Kentucky. Copies can be preordered at AMAZON.

By Allan R. Ellenberger

One day, in her dressing room at Goldwyn Studios, Miriam Hopkins hosted a lunch for her husband Anatole Litvak, director Edmund Goulding and his Lordship, The Earl of Warwick, who she met in London the previous year. Warwick was in Hollywood to kick start an acting career using the stage name Michael Brooke.

As they dined, she received a call from her ex-husband, Austin “Billy” Parker, asking if he could borrow her car and chauffeur. Since his valet-chauffeur was in an accident, he needed a man to wake him in the morning, make his tea, shine his shoes, and so forth. Thinking fast, Miriam realized this was a chance to play a practical joke on her former husband. She explained that her car was in the shop, but she would ask Edmund Goulding if he could help.

Placing Billy on hold, she said to the Earl, “You want to get in pictures, don’t you? Well, if you can pass yourself off as a servant before [Billy], who knows actors and theaters backward, then you’ll know you’re good.” The Earl nodded in agreement. Miriam told Billy that Goulding would loan him his valet for the day.

“Is the man a good valet?” Billy asked.

“Excellent,” Miriam assured him.

Billy sounded pleased. “That’s marvelous,” he said. Warwick borrowed a chauffeur’s uniform from Goldwyn’s costume department and reported to Billy’s home the next morning, promptly at eight o’clock. Billy, still in bed, bellowed for his tea and toast. Warwick burned the toast. The morning tea was bitter and black, and the teacups and two vases were somehow broken. When Billy ordered him to make the bed, lumps like mountains remained in the coverlets.

His Lordship helped Billy on with his boots, but he was clumsy. The shoe polish spilled into the shoes, on the floor, and everywhere. When they left the house at noon, Billy was terribly pressed; jerkily shaven and the Earl’s erratic driving down Sunset Boulevard left him a nervous wreck. He was disgusted but didn’t want to be ungracious to the man that Goulding had so graciously loaned him.

The Earl dropped Billy off at the Vine Street Brown Derby where Miriam, Litvak and Goulding were waiting. After several minutes, a prearranged phone call was brought to their table. Finally, she hung up and said to her ex-husband, “I’m sorry Billy, but Edmund’s man says he can’t possibly stay the day with you. He says you are impossible, temperamental, sloppy, surly and hard to please.”

Astonished, Billy turned fifty-shades of red, but before he could express his disbelief, Miriam added: “Oh, and by the way. He doesn’t like the way you dress.” Just as Billy was about to spout off his full inventory of obscenities, “Goulding’s man” came in, casually took a place at the table, rubbed his hands together, and gave an off-hand nod at Billy. “May I present the Earl of Warwick?” said Miriam, who, along with the others at the table, had a good laugh at Billy’s expense

Michael Hopkins Birthday!

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Happy Birthday Michael Hopkins!


Michael and Miriam Hopkins

Miriam Hopkins and her son Michael (photo by Jean Negulesco)
(Courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)



Today is the 76th birthday of Miriam Hopkins son, Michael. Miriam adopted Michael when he was six weeks old from The Cradle, an adoption agency in Evanston, Illinois. Her friend, writer Dorothy Parker, accompanied Miriam to Chicago for support.


I’ve been asked if Michael and his mother had a similar relationship as Joan Crawford reportedly had with her adopted daughter Christina. I can say that the answer is no — the Hopkins’ relationship was a caring relationship. At the age of eight Michael began attending private schools in Arizona, California and the east. After school, Michael joined the Air Force and made that his career. While based in Morrocco, he met and married a French girl, Christiane. In 1955 they made Miriam a grandmother when their son Thomas was born.


I am happy to say that Michael Hopkins, his wife Christiane and their son Michael are all supporting and cooperating with my biography of their mother and grandmother, Miriam Hopkins.


The following is from an unsourced newspaper dated May 5, 1932

Miriam Hopkins Adopts Orphanage Baby Boy


Signing of Papers Reveals Actress’s Divorce


CHICAGO, May 4 (AP) — Miriam Hopkins, an actress, was aboard a New York-bound train today playing a new role, mother to an adopted baby boy, whom she selected yesterday from The Cradle, an Evanston orphanage.


In answering questions necessary to the infant’s legal adoptin, the screen and stage actress revealed in court that she and her playwright husband, Austin Parker, were divorced. They separated about a year ago.


Discovery of her plan to adopt a child and the resulting publicity irked the actress and after adoption papers were signed she left Judge Edmund K. Jarecki’s court, declaring she did not want to talk about it, or anything else for that matter.


“I hate all this publicity over a simple thing. I don’t have to give any reasons,” she said to a reporter who asked why she wanted to adopt a baby. “It is just a fact and we will live wherever I happen to be working.”


In court she told the judge she would rear the child as her own and had already set aside a trust fund for it. She testified she was unmarried. All that could be learned about the baby was that it was “Boy Wilson.” The orphanage operates on a policy of declining to make public information on adoptions. Miss Hopkins came here from Hollywood yesterday.