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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK

March 20, 2014

MIRIAM HOPKINS

MIRIAM HOPKINS

 

MIRIAM HOPKINS

 

We’ve missed a Portrait of the Week or two here at the Funhouse, while we’ve been busy convention-going and redesigning our site.  We’re back on track now with this week’s tribute to actress Miriam Hopkins.

Unfortunately Ms. Hopkins may be largely unknown to modern film fans. But she left a body of fine work that’s well worth seeking out and will stand the test of time.

Her best work was in the early 1930s, where her pre-censor films created quite a stir. She made such classics as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Design for Living, The Story of  Temple Drake and Trouble in Paradise. They were all popular with contemporary audiences and big box-office hits.

Unfortunately, she proved to be quite a difficult performer and often created hostile working conditions on her sets.

During the production of Barbary Coast (1935) a scene required co-star Edward G. Robinson to slap her. He had had his fill of her by then, and when the director called ‘action’, he really smacked her. The crew instantaneously broke out in applause.

Stories were legendary of her feud with Bette Davis. They worked together in The Old Maid (1939) and Old Acquaintance (1943). During production of these films it’s said you could cut the tension with a knife. Somehow Hopkins was convinced that Davis was having an affair with Miriam’s husband.

Despite her flaws, Miriam was quite a gifted actress. She continued to work in films and theatre, seguing perfectly into character roles as she got older. She excelled at playing shrill mothers-in-law, dotty aunts and other colorful characters.

Hopkins made a huge career stumble in her last film, Savage Intruder (1970). The underfunded, half-baked production starred Miriam as a Norma Desmond-type psycho who lived in a crumbling Hollywood Mansion. The barely-released mess not only featured Gale Sondergaard, but no less than former-Stooge Joe Besser. To top it all off, Hopkins displayed her 67-year old body in a nude scene.

Miriam Hopkins passed away in 1972 at age 69.

 

 

 

 






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