Before Liz Smith and Perez Hilton became household names in the world of celebrity gossip, before Rush Limbaugh became the voice of conservatism, there was Hedda Hopper. In 1938, this 52-year-old struggling actress rose to fame and influence writing an incendiary gossip column, "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood," that appeared in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers throughoBefore Liz Smith and Perez Hilton became household names in the world of celebrity gossip, before Rush Limbaugh became the voice of conservatism, there was Hedda Hopper. In 1938, this 52-year-old struggling actress rose to fame and influence writing an incendiary gossip column, "Hedda Hopper's Hollywood," that appeared in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers throughout Hollywood's golden age. Often eviscerating moviemakers and stars, her column earned her a nasty reputation in the film industry while winning a legion of some 32 million fans, whose avid support established her as the voice of small-town America. Yet Hopper sought not only to build her career as a gossip columnist but also to push her agenda of staunch moral and political conservatism, using her column to argue against U.S. entry into World War II, uphold traditional views of sex and marriage, defend racist roles for African Americans, and enthusiastically support the Hollywood blacklist.While usually dismissed as an eccentric crank, Jennifer Frost argues that Hopper has had a profound and lasting influence on popular and political culture and should be viewed as a pivotal popularizer of conservatism. The first book to explore Hopper's gossip career and the public's response to both her column and her politics, Hedda Hopper's Hollywood illustrates how the conservative gossip maven contributed mightily to the public understanding of film, while providing a platform for women to voice political views within a traditionally masculine public realm. Jennifer Frost builds the case that, as practiced by Hopper and her readers, Hollywood gossip shaped key developments in American movies and movie culture, newspaper journalism and conservative politics, along with the culture of gossip itself, all of which continue to play out today.Read a review of the book from the Chronicle of Higher Education blog, Tenured Radical....
|Title||:||Hedda Hopper's Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism|
|Number of Pages||:||281 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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Hedda Hopper's Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism Reviews
Well, that was a bust. This was written by an author for her dissertation and it shows. Long, long sentences, detailed (and boring) descriptions and very little to hold the attention of someone who doesn't have to read this for a Ph.D. committee.I read the entire introduction and the first two chapters before giving up -- too bad, it is an interesting topic but not done to my taste. However, if you are researching Hollywood and the effects of the gossip columns from the mid-40's to the late 60's, this is the book for you.Me, I DNF.
This is a scholarly book, not a popular title, which was fine with me, but may not be to some readers' tastes. This explains the couple of very low reviews that it has received, I believe. I did feel that there was a degree of repetitiveness to the book, in places, and also a kind of hollow center. I had an extraordinary sense of the power of the letters and columns, which I admit was the subject, but sometimes Hopper herself and certainly her contemporaries, Louella Parsons, Walter Winchell and Ed Sullivan (yes, that Ed Sullivan) remained essentially just names in the book rather than actual people despite their critical roles as professional competitors. Given the amount of material the author had to work with, this seems an unusual shortcoming.Given those reservations, however, I have to say that the book was a fascinating look at the power she wielded and the disturbing self-riotous pleasure she took in so doing. I became interested in her after seeing her portrayed in the film Trumbo and this book certainly gave me an opportunity to see a well detailed look at the way she worked and the careers she destroyed. Oh, one note for trivia fans, her son William Hopper played Paul Drake in the TV series Perry Mason. I never saw that coming. :-)
While gossip columns may seem frivolous, Hedda Hopper's had real political traction and this is a scholarly study of it--for nearly forty years, this ex-actress and single mother from small town Pennsylvania, touting her backing by the "American people" who read her pieces, built and destroyed careers based on her opinions. Protective of Lew Ayres' conscientious objector stand, she also excoriated WWII dissent, protective of gay actors who let her in on their personal lives, she gleefully outed others and scooped the PIs on adultery and other scandals, promoted African-American actors for parts, so long as they were grateful mammies and Uncle Remus (the Song of the South chapter is very good), was anti-Semitic in a town where the studios were run by Eastern European Jews, gladly named people to HUAC and outed them in print as "pink" or "grey", crusaded to chase Chaplin and Helen Gahagan Douglas out of California and took sides in celebrity divorces. Frost turns a scholar's eye to how Hopper leveraged her "authority" as an industry insider and populist self-appointed critic into the kind of power she had and used, and the results in cultural and political life.
As someone who takes a strong interest in Hollywood history, this was worth my time. Hedda Hopper wielded extraordinary power as a gossip columnist. Pick up almost any biography or autobiography of any actor from that era and you're bound to find mentions of either Hedda Hopper or Louella Parsons, but usually both. They were both feared and loathed, but they were forces to be reckoned with.This particular book focuses on Hopper's reach and efforts to shape American politics and culture. A fairly hardcore conservative, Hopper was obsessed with routing what she saw as the Communist threat from Hollywood. It's a very well-researched book, but it is on the dense side. If you are already familiar with some of Hopper's background and also some of the history of stars such as Chaplin, this is probably going to be less of an issue. It is not the first book I would recommend to someone who wants to get a general sense of Hopper, that era, or how far ranging Hopper's influence was.
This book is a scholarly book on Hopper and Hollywood gossip, not a kiss-and-tell biography, so some readers may be disappointed. But it's a great history of the era and I learned not just about movies and stars and the importance of gossip. But also about the cold war, the blacklist, race relations and women and the family. I didn't want it to end!
I didn't know anything about Hedda Hopper before reading this book other than she was a gossip columnist. Wow she was a jerk. Mega racist and conservative and ready to throw anyone under the bus who she did not like.
What a nasty mess this woman truly was ... her politics were way over the top and I never knew that. Also, she attempted to "out" Michael Wilding, who sued her, and WON ... apparently her "gay" coterie stuck together to spite her!
This was very much an academic book, which I don't mind, but something to be aware of!