Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel

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ISBN: 9780813174310; Hardcover
424 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 74 b/w images

Miriam Hopkins
Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel
by Allan R. Ellenberger

Miriam Hopkins (1902--1972) first captured moviegoers' attention in daring precode films such as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), The Story of Temple Drake (1933), and Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise (1932). Though she enjoyed popular and critical acclaim in her long career -- receiving an Academy Award nomination for Becky Sharp (1935) and a Golden Globe nomination for The Heiress (1949) -- she is most often remembered for being one of the most difficult actresses of Hollywood's golden age. Whether she was fighting with studio moguls over her roles or feuding with her avowed archrival, Bette Davis, her reputation for temperamental behavior is legendary.

In the first comprehensive biography of this colorful performer, Allan R. Ellenberger illuminates Hopkins's fascinating life and legacy. Her freewheeling film career was exceptional in studio-era Hollywood, and she managed to establish herself as a top star at Paramount, RKO, Goldwyn, and Warner Bros. Over the course of five decades, Hopkins appeared in thirty-six films, forty stage plays, and countless radio programs. Later, she emerged as a pioneer of TV drama. Ellenberger also explores Hopkins's private life, including her relationships with such intellectuals as Theodore Dreiser, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, and Tennessee Williams. Although she was never blacklisted for her suspected Communist leanings, her association with these freethinkers and her involvement with certain political organizations led the FBI to keep a file on her for nearly forty years. This skillful biography treats readers to the intriguing stories and controversies surrounding Hopkins and her career, but also looks beyond her Hollywood persona to explore the star as an uncompromising artist. The result is an entertaining portrait of a brilliant yet underappreciated performer.

Allan R. Ellenberger is the author of numerous books about the cinema, including Margaret O'Brien: A Career Chronicle and Biography. His articles have appeared in Classic Images, Films of the Golden Age, and the Hollywood Heritage Newsletter.

Book Reviews:

    "As Ellenberger's approach mines detail after detail and anecdote after anecdote, from Hopkins's echt southern beginnings to every zigzag of her life afterward, the woman who emerges is complex and compulsively compelling." -- Sheila Benson, former chief film critic for the Los Angeles Times and writer for the National Society of Film Critics

    "The too often underrated and overlooked Miriam Hopkins is finally getting the spotlight she deserves. Allan Ellenberger has excavated the nuances and fascinating complexities of the woman Tennessee Williams thought he was complimenting when he said she was "the quintessence of the female, a really magnificent bitch." It turns out that Hopkins life off camera was as dramatic as any role she played." -- Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood

    "Outstanding for its authoritative research, Allan R. Ellenberger's Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel is a lively, interesting book about a lively, interesting woman." -- Emily W. Leider, author of Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood

    "This thoroughly researched and well-sourced work is riveting and gives an in-depth examination of Hopkins's screen, stage, radio, and television performances. Ellenberger has crafted a fascinating portrait of a multidimensional actress and woman." -- Christina Rice, author of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood's Forgotten Rebel

    "Screen/stage star Miriam Hopkins has long deserved a full-length biography covering her extensive career. This meticulously researched book does the actress complete justice. The author presents a vivid study of a high-strung talent who, professionally and romantically, was often her own worst enemy. A great read!" -- James Robert Parish, author of Hollywood Divas

    "Allan Ellenberger's thorough, empathetic biography captures the passionate, full-blooded life of celebrated actress Miriam Hopkins, revealing the idiosyncratic and complex life of one of Hollywood's most intelligent women." -- Mary Mallory, author of Hollywood at Play: The Lives of the Stars Between Takes

    "Tennessee Williams called her a 'Magnificent Bitch.' There's probably no better label to summarize the forceful hurricane known as Miriam Hopkins, whose professional achievements both on Broadway and in Hollywood were as notable as her feuds with Bette Davis, Edward G. Robinson, Samuel Goldwyn, Warner Bros. head Jack Warner, and other luminaries of the studio era. Allan Ellenberger's Hopkins bio is a must-read for those interested in getting to know this complex, contradictory, and immensely talented 20th century personage who dared to rebel against conventional 'woman roles' both on and off screen." -- Andre Soares, Alt Film Guide

    "Ellenberger offers all of the details regarding Miriam's life and work, positive and negative, without any judgment or editorializing. Each fascinating new bit of info further illustrates this very complex woman whose talents were frequently utilized to their fullest, but too often underappreciated.

    During a year that has included some top drawer film-related biographies, Miriam Hopkins: The Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel is among the very best. It is most passionately recommended to all fans of Hollywood's golden age." -- James L. Neibaur Books Blog

    "Ellenberger chronicles Hopkins' career, more diverse than most of us recognize, in ample detail." -- Shepherd Express

    "Allan Ellenberger's biography of Miriam Hopkins is a nuanced and in-depth look at one of the most dazzling and provocative personalities from Hollywood's Golden Age. His book is full of rich details that bring us as close as possible to understanding this complex, accomplished actress. A meticulous and fascinating biography of a complicated, yet undeniably talented artist, as well as a woman who was nothing short of captivating." -- Los Angeles Public Library

    "University Press of Kentucky's stellar string of show-biz biographies continues with Allan R. Ellenberger's Miriam Hopkins, the first full-length volume devoted to the actress. Hers was a fascinating life and career, and it's all to be found in the pages of (this book)." -- YES! Weekly

    "A compelling actress who was equally at home in heavy dramas and sophisticated comedies, Miriam Hopkins is due for rediscovery and this book may serve as a linchpin. With pages of sources to verify his extensive research, Ellenberger has tried to bring the public and private Miriam Hopkins to life in this welcome biography." -- Leonard Maltin's Movie Crazy

    "READ: The Alt Film Guide Reviews Allan R. Ellenberger's Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of Hollywood Rebel. Read online here." --

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