Today is the 117th birthday of the actress Miriam Hopkins. She has an impressive resume and a fascinating life. But have you seen The Children’s Hour? Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner, and Miriam Hopkins are in the cast, the story is shocking for the time. The world is a better place because she was in it and still feels the loss that she has left.
NAME: Miriam Hopkins
BIRTH DATE: October 18, 1902
PLACE OF BIRTH: Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
DATE OF DEATH: October 9, 1972
PLACE OF DEATH: New York City, New York, U.S.
REMAINS: Buried, Oak City Cemetery, Bainbridge, GA
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME: 1701 Vine Street (motion pictures)
HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME: 1708 Vine Street (television)
BEST KNOWN FOR: Miriam Hopkins was an American film and TV actress known for her versatility.
Hopkins was born in Savannah, Georgia, and raised in Bainbridge, near the Alabama border. In 1909 she briefly lived in Mexico. After her parents separated, she moved as a teen with her mother to Syracuse, New York, to be near her uncle, Thomas Cramer Hopkins, head of the Geology Department at Syracuse University.
At age 20, Hopkins became a chorus girl in New York City. In 1930, she signed with Paramount Pictures, and made her official film debut in Fast and Loose. Her first great success was in the 1931 horror drama film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which she portrayed the character Ivy Pearson, a prostitute who becomes entangled with Jekyll and Hyde. Hopkins received rave reviews, but because of the potential controversy of the film and her character, many of her scenes were cut before the official release, reducing her screen time to approximately five minutes.
Nevertheless, her career ascended swiftly thereafter and in 1932 she scored her breakthrough in Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise, where she proved her charm and wit as a beautiful and jealous pickpocket. During the pre-code Hollywood of the early 1930s, she appeared in The Smiling Lieutenant, The Story of Temple Drake and Design for Living, all of which were box office successes and critically acclaimed. Her pre-Code films were considered risqué even at that time, with The Story of Temple Drake depicting a rape scene and Design for Living featuring a ménage à trois with Fredric March and Gary Cooper. She also had success during the remainder of the decade with the romantic screwball comedy The Richest Girl in the World (1934), the historical drama Becky Sharp (1935), for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, Barbary Coast (1935), These Three (1936) (the first of four films with director William Wyler) and The Old Maid (1939).
Hopkins was one of the first actresses approached to play the role of Ellie Andrews in It Happened One Night (1934). However, she rejected the part. She did audition for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, having one advantage none of the other candidates had: she was a native Georgian. But the part went to Vivien Leigh.
Hopkins had well-publicized fights with her arch-enemy Bette Davis (Hopkins believed Davis was having an affair with Hopkins’ husband at the time, Anatole Litvak), when they co-starred in their two films The Old Maid (1939) and Old Acquaintance (1943). Davis admitted to enjoying very much a scene in Old Acquaintance in which she shakes Hopkins forcefully during a scene where Hopkins’ character makes unfounded allegations against Davis’s. There were even press photos taken with both divas in a boxing ring with gloves up and director Vincent Sherman between the two.
After Old Acquaintance, Hopkins did not work again in films until The Heiress (1949), where she played the lead character’s aunt. In Mitchell Leisen’s 1951’s comedy The Mating Season, she gave a comic performance as Gene Tierney’s character’s mother. She also acted in The Children’s Hour, which is the theatrical basis of her film These Three (1936). In the remake, she played the aunt to Shirley MacLaine, who took Hopkins’ original role.
Hopkins was a television pioneer, performing in teleplays in three decades, spanning the late 1940s through the late 1960s, in such programs as The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre (1949), Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1951), Lux Video Theatre (1951–1955), The Outer Limits (1964) and even an episode of The Flying Nun in 1969.
Hopkins was married and divorced four times: first to actor Brandon Peters, second to aviator, screenwriter Austin Parker, third to the director Anatole Litvak, and fourth to war correspondent Raymond B. Brock. In 1932, Hopkins adopted a son, Michael T. Hopkins (March 29, 1932 – October 5, 2010).
She was known for hosting elegant parties. John O’Hara, a frequent guest, noted that “most of her guests were chosen from the world of the intellect…Miriam knew them all, had read their work, had listened to their music, had bought their paintings. They were not there because a secretary had given her a list of highbrows.”
She was a staunch Democrat who strongly supported the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Hopkins died in New York City from a heart attack nine days before her 70th birthday.
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
The Chase (19-Feb-1966)
Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1964)
The Children’s Hour (19-Dec-1961) · Mrs. Lily Mortar
The Outcasts of Poker Flat (16-May-1952)
The Mating Season (12-Jan-1951) · Fran Carleton
The Heiress (6-Oct-1949) · Lavinia Penniman
Old Acquaintance (2-Nov-1943) · Millie
A Gentleman After Dark (16-Apr-1942)
Lady with Red Hair (30-Nov-1940) · Caroline Carter
Virginia City (16-Mar-1940) · Julia Hayne
The Old Maid (16-Aug-1939) · Delia Lovell
Wise Girl (31-Dec-1937) · Susan Fletcher
Woman Chases Man (28-Apr-1937) · Virginia Travis
The Woman I Love (15-Apr-1937)
Men Are Not Gods (26-Nov-1936) · Ann Williams
These Three (18-Mar-1936) · Martha
Barbary Coast (13-Oct-1935) · Mary Rutledge
Becky Sharp (13-Jun-1935)
The Richest Girl in the World (21-Sep-1934) · Dorothy
She Loves Me Not (31-Aug-1934)
Design for Living (29-Dec-1933) · Gilda
The Stranger’s Return (28-Jul-1933)
The Story of Temple Drake (6-May-1933) · Temple Drake
Trouble in Paradise (21-Oct-1932) · Lily
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (31-Dec-1931) · Ivy Pearson
The Smiling Lieutenant (10-Jul-1931) · Princess Anna
Fast and Loose (8-Nov-1930)