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Miriam Hopkins: Life and Films of a Hollywood Rebel

by Allan R. Ellenberger

Not Yet Publishedcloth$45.00s 978-0-8131-7431-0
Availableweb pdf$45.00s 978-0-8131-7432-7
Availableepub$45.00s 978-0-8131-7433-4
Screen Classics
424 pages  Pubdate: 01/15/2018  6 x 9  74 b/w images

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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