Who is Hedda Hopper? – Things to Know About the Feud Character, Hollywood's Famous Gossip Columnist – TownandCountrymag.com

Every item on this page was chosen by a Town & Country editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
Feud brings one of the most notorious Hollywood gossips back to life.
Anyone who says society was milder back in the old days doesn’t remember Hedda Hopper. When The L.A. Times launched the infamous gossip column “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” in 1938, its writer quickly became the most feared person showbiz.
Spencer Tracy once confronted Hopper at Ciro’s and kicked her in the behind for printing a “blind item” on his affair with Katharine Hepburn. ZaSu Pitts compared her to a ferret and Joan Bennett actually had a live skunk delivered to her. The Sweet Smell of Success’ J.J. Hunsucker is said to be partially based on her. If you were a star from 1940-1965, there was no escaping her clutches.
As famous for her flamboyant hats as she was for outing Hollywood’s Blacklist in her columns, “The Most Hated Women in Hollywood” (according the New York Post) relished in the glamour of it all. But rubbing elbows didn’t make her any less cut-throat. “If you didn’t take her call, you were dead,” the Post article dishes. “If you lied to her, you were dead. If you gave a good story to her rival Louella Parsons — you were dead.”
Ingrid Bergman, once a friend of Hopper’s, committed two of those cardinal sins when she convinced Hopper she was not pregnant with director Roberto Rossellini‘s baby. It was later confirmed in Parsons’ column, which also ran in the LA Times, and Hopper went on a campaign to smear Bergman’s name every chance she got.
Not only was she a regular fixture at star-studded dinner parties, she also hosted celebrities at her fabulous house on Tropical Avenue in Beverly Hills. Hopper—a former struggling actress who finally struck it rich in her fifties by spilling the dirt on all her friends—called it “The House That Fear Built.”
It was there that Hopper brought Baby Jane stars and legendary actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis—the subjects of Ryan Murphy’s FX drama Feud: Bette and Joan, which premieres Sunday at 10pm—to dinner in 1962. In the first episode we get a glimpse of Hopper’s report from the intimate gathering, in which Bette (played by Susan Sarandon) quips, “Will it be disappointing if we get along well?” Hopper’s column from the gathering also poo-pooed rumors of bickering and jealousy (of which there were plenty) and instead focused on their commonalities, such as the fact both actresses had made over 65 films and had each had four husbands.
“I told them we haven’t had much excitement around lately and they should start fighting and bring this place to life,” Hopper wrote.
Perhaps the lack of blood spilled on the page is the most telling sign that the writer’s own star was fading. By the mid-sixties her readership had waned (at its peak, the column had 35 million readers) and in 1966, at age 80, she died of pneumonia.
The most famous line attributed to Hopper is in response to a question from actress Merle Oberon, who asked, “What inspired all the vicious things you’ve been writing about me?”
Hopper replied, “Bitchery, dear. Sheer bitchery.”


Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here