The late Hearst columnist Louella Parsons was a popular figure in the early 1920s. During her career, she was affiliated with various Hearst enterprises, including publishing and radio stations. During 1925, Parsons contracted tuberculosis and was told she had only six months to live. However, she spent her final months in California, where her illness went into remission. She went on to become the Hearst syndicate’s Hollywood columnist.
In a book called Louella Parsons, Hollywood Glamour, she examines the relationship between celebrities and media moguls, from studio executives to journalists. She details how studio executives relied on Parsons to promote their products and keep control of the industry. While Parsons’s book does not claim to have predicted the rise of Hollywood, she did make herself a valuable commodity by having an exclusive forty-eight-hour window on all the studio-generated news.
The story behind the invention of Hollywood gossip is fascinating. The idea was first conceived by Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper. Both women were self-made and broke the glass ceiling of Hollywood’s social structure. However, Louella Parsons was a self-obsessed bigot and used her influence to slander outsiders and police sexuality. But while Parsons was a successful Hollywood gossip columnist, Hopper dominated the world of entertainment.
After marrying John Parsons, Louella had a daughter named Harriet. Her marriage to Parsons, a real estate agent, ended in tragedy. Parsons died on a transport ship during World War I, and Louella was left to raise their daughter, Harriet. After John Parsons’ death, Louella divorced him, and married a riverboat captain, Jack McCaffrey, for a second time.
In a bitterly contested feud that lasted for two decades, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons tried to stifle one another’s column-writing talents, with mixed results. Hedda’s newspaper column was widely read, with circulation of 17 million and Louella’s circulating at a mere 5 million daily and seven million on Sunday. The two women, however, had one thing in common: a desire to never lose their footing.
While the Hays code was intended to set moral standards for public consumption, it was ultimately the Hollywood reporters who pushed for greater independence for their clients. The two women were instrumental in ensuring that Hollywood was a respectable place to live. A self-respecting citizen would never wish to see an actor’s sex life broadcast on celluloid. Ultimately, the Hollywood gossip parsons and Hedda Hopper helped keep the city of Hollywood clean and decency-oriented.
Although the two women were famously chummy with each other, they were also rivals in the Hollywood gossip parsons era. In fact, their wives were the most prominent Hollywood gossips in the past. According to one account, Hedda Hopper, the wife of actor Bill DeWolf, was in love with a young American artist named Vincent van Gogh. She later died of kidney failure, which was the result of taking antibiotics for pneumonia.
When she was a sophomore at Wellesley College, Harriet Parsons began writing a movie column for the New York Morning Telegraph. By the time she graduated from Wellesley in June 1928, she was a full-fledged movie critic. In the years that followed, Parsons continued to write for various publications, but she also sought new opportunities. In October 1928, she joined the ranks of MGM, where she worked as a scenario writer. The magazine was known for employing “ghost” writers to cover films.
Born in Burlington, Iowa, Harriet Parsons was one of the first female producers in Hollywood, and her mother, Louella Parsons, was a famous movie gossip writer. Parsons was the daughter of a real estate developer and a writer. The couple split up when Harriet was six, and she began writing screenplays for the new company. She became known as Baby Parsons, and then she starred in films such as Margaret’s Awakening and The Magic Wand. Parsons graduated from Wellesley College, and soon thereafter began working on screenplays. She later became an associate editor at Photoplay magazine.
She was a lesbian, and one of the first lesbians in the film industry. She made several classic films and was one of the few lesbians to take control behind the camera. She owed her success to her mother, who cast an impressive shadow over the diminutive Parsons. She died in a car accident in the 1970s, but her career remained firmly established. Her friendship with Charles Higham helped her establish herself as an important figure in the industry.
Hedda Hopper’s feud with Louella Parsons
Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons’ feud is the most famous example of gossip in Hollywood history. Both women were single mothers who struggled to make a living in Hollywood. Their respective daily newspaper columns had the highest readership in the country, and both women were considered rivals. As a result, their feud drew many jealous hit-pieces and physical attacks.
During the early 1940s, Hedda Hopper’s career in the movies was winding down, and she began to look for other sources of income. She wrote a gossip column for the Los Angeles Times, and her first piece appeared on February 14, 1938. Hopper was a victim of her own adversity, and her resentment manifested itself in her name. She christened her Beverly Hills house the “House That Fear Built” – a nod to her rivalry with Louella Parsons. However, the feud between these two exes lasted for years.
The feud between Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons had a long history. The two women were friends and even collaborated on one project, but the studios decided to pit them against each other. The studios pitted Louella against Hedda because the former had more influence and power in the industry. Ingrid Bergman’s clean image suffered as a result of Hedda’s coverage of Charlie Chaplin’s life. The feud lasted until the 1950s, when both women had ascended to prominence.
Louella Parsons’ radio program
Throughout her career, Louella Parsons has perpetuated the gender and sexual stereotypes that have shaped the entertainment industry. She cut her teeth during the infamous era of Hollywood’s early days, when it was critical to present a squeaky-clean image for the fledgling film industry. In her columns, film stars were painted as models of middle-class domesticity. She was relentless when it came to interviewing stars, and her program torpedoed the career of starlet Ingrid Bergman.
At the height of her career, Louella was a Hollywood icon and a legendary columnist. At one time, she had as many as 40 million readers. Her incisive interviews with actors, directors, and producers made her the most influential figure in Hollywood, and her work became the stuff of legend. While she was a beloved character among Hollywood stars, Parsons herself became controversial, and was resented by some.
Although her career coincided with the growth of the film industry, she remained unapologetic about her celebrity crushes and was credited with establishing the cult of celebrity. Her influence continues to be felt today, in the subtext of film star profiles. For her part, Louella Parsons pursued a writing career while working as a scenarist at the Essay Studio. She later went on to write daily columns about Hollywood celebrities, gathering interviews on layovers, and developing new marketing techniques.
Hedda Hopper’s relationship with Hedda Hopper
Hedda Hopper had a relatively unremarkable career in movies before turning to Hollywood gossip columns. She was known as one of the most feared figures in the entertainment industry, and was a major proponent of the infamous “Blacklist.” She ruined dozens of careers and became the object of curiosity for millions of readers. While her career in the movies was unremarkable, she used her writing skills to snitch on Hollywood celebrities and make a fortune as a Hollywood gossip columnist.
Hedda Hopper married a Broadway star named DeWolf. He was also known for his recitations of poetry, and became famous for popularizing the baseball poem, “Casey at the Bat.” DeWolf Hopper asked Hedda to join his theater troupe as an understudy, and the two married in 1913.
While Hedda Hopper’s romance with Louella Parsons is far from romantic, the two women had a mutual interest in creating celebrity gossip. They were both ambitious and self-made, and both possessed the ability to command the attention of 75 million newspaper readers and listeners. It was a dynamic duo that made Hollywood gossip the most popular form of entertainment and shaped the lives of numerous celebrities.
Louella and Hedda’s friendship grew deeper over the years. Louella had long been the ‘go-to’ woman in Hollywood. She would call Louella whenever a movie set was causing problems or a leading man had an affair. This relationship was so powerful that Hedda was guaranteed a few lines of copy under the gossip parsons’ byline.