The Golden Age of Gossip

The Chronicle Review spotlights Jennifer Frost’s new book, Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism.

Hedda Hopper’s first big scoop came at the expense of the president’s son. In 1939, the 52-year-old failed actress and fledgling gossip columnist obtained an interview with James Roosevelt, eldest son of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and a producer and executive at Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Hopper asked the movie honcho if he and his wife were going to divorce. Roosevelt refused to answer, and Hopper wrote a brashly suggestive column anticipating the breakup of the marriage. The story made the front page of the Los Angeles Times.

Hopper’s column took off, and by the mid-50s its daily readership was 32 million, estimates Jennifer Frost, who teaches American history at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand. In Hedda Hopper’s Holly­wood: Celebrity Gossip and American Conservatism (New York University Press), Frost, drawing on fan mail saved by Hopper, explores the columnist’s long career and especially her relationship with, and influence on, her readers.

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3 thoughts on “The Golden Age of Gossip

  1. Did anyone read the book? Form an opinion after that or did they just read the WSJ review?

  2. Yes, the WSJ review really tells you all you need to know about the cookie-cutter academic-leftist politically-correct obsessive anti-American views of the author.

  3. A most entertaining review of this book in the Wall Street Journal’s Saturday, edition on January 29th, 2011. I laughed out loud at the last line!

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