Miriam Hopkins (1902-1972)
- Carole Lombard, No Man Of Her Own, 1931. Hopkins fled, complaining the role did not suit her. Or, was it the title? (No, she was furious at losing top billing to Clark Gable). So, she fell "ill" - innaugurating the one and only film of Gable and his Carole. And… no sparks whatsoever. Indeed, her wrap party gift to him was a ham… with his picture on it! Their celebrated love affair began much years later and they wed in 1939.
- Joan Crawford, Forsaking All Others, 1933. As if the mighty MGM didn’t have more stars than were in the heavens, the studio tried to borrow Hopkins from Paramount as Clark Gable’s new partner. No, said Par. So did the Hays Office censors about such injurious words as tramp, sex appeal and - oh no, cover your ears! - “nudist wedding.”
- Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night, 1933. A Frank Capra pal passed her the script. She passed it back - in high dudgeon. "Not if I never play another part! To me it was just another silly comedy…" Also in the Ellie loop were Constance Bennett, Myrna Loy, Margaret Sullavan.
- Carole Lombard, Twentieth Century, 1934. "… I'm a bad judge of a play or film," said Miriam.
- Carole Lombard, Bolero, 1934. One of the few films in this survey that George Raft did make...
- Ann Harding, Peter Ibbetson, 1934. Gary Cooper as the titular architevct hired by the Duke of Towers only to find that the Duchess is his childhood sweetheart. Due for Hopkins, scorned by Lombard, won by Harding.
- Carole Lombard, Hands Across The Table, 1935. When he couldn’t land Hopkins, producer Samuel Goldwyn gave up and sold the comedy to Paramount.
- Frances Farmer, Come And Get It, 1936. Just as she began Howard Hawks’ Barbary Coast, 1935, producer Sam Goldwyn decided Hopkins should also be Hawks’ next leading ladies: mother and daughter Lotta Morgan and Lotta Bostrom. Hawks didn’t agree. He checked through producer Goldwyn’s tests, thought about Virginia Bruce. And Andrea Leeds - relegated to support once Hawks fell heavily for Farmer. "Fabulous. She was a blonde, a natural, but she just used a dark wig, that's all she put on, no change in make-up. Just her face... her whole attitude changed, her whole method of talking.”And then It could be said to be the directing credit, a big battle between Hawks who started the film and William Wyler who wrapped it. . Farmer was not the only issue fought over by the director and his producer Sam Goldwyn. (Hawks was not really filming the Edna Ferber book!) Finally, The Silver Fox was sacked. Or quit. Depending on who you talked to.
- Bette Davis, Jezebel, 1937.
Arch enemies from their George Cukor stage days when the bisexual Miriam fancied Davis but, as always, Bette stole scenes - "even from extras!" Miriam then hated how Bette became the biggest star in Hollywood - "stealing" her Jezebel stage role and, for the duration of The Sisters, Miriam's husband, director Anatole Litvak.Warner’s chief, Jack Warner, persuaded Hopkins not to name Davis in the divorce and Miriam could only retaliate by using all her up-staging tricks to put Bette off-kilter when they made The Old Maid, 1939.
- Kay Francis, Comet Over Broadway, 1937. Directors ranged from Edmund Goulding to Busby Berkeley as Bette Davis refused the lead. Her substitute, Miriam Hopkins, fell ill and Francis saved the day. In person and via off-cuts from her 1934 film, I Found Stella Parish.
- Bette Davis, All This, and Heaven Too, 1939. Head Brother Jack Warner first wanted Hayes or Miriam Hopkins as the virtuous governess Henriette. Although (or because) she found him heavy-handed and inflexible as a director, Davis had an affair with Anatole Litvak - while he was wed to Hopkins! Worked wondersfor their necessary emnity in The Old Maid and Old Acquaintance!
- Constance Bennett, Law of the Tropics, 1940. Followed by The Law of the Hopkins... Not many actresses were as honest as she was. She passed, explaining she felt too old at 38 to playing footsy with Jeffrey Lynn, 31.
- Carole Lombard, To Be Or Not To Be, 1941. The Legend: Miriam just could not get on with co-star Jack Benny. The Truth: ’Twas the role she didn’t like. Lombard loved it and simply Iago-ed Hopkins into quitting - the fifth film that Lombard took a away from Hopkins. And the last. As, alas, this proved to be Lombard's finale. Once shooting was completed, she embarked on her US War Bonds tour. She never came back - killed in a plane crash on January 16 1942. Variety praised her “effortless and highly effective performance that provides memorable finale to a brilliant screen career.” Scant consolation for her husband, Clark Gable. So distraught he ran away to WWII.
- Bette Davis, The Little Foxes, 1941. This once, Miriam s came close to replacing Bette - on the verge of a breakdown when directed anew by her ex- lover, William Wyler.He insisted she stay in the film, but he never chose her for another. When old friends (!) in Old Acquaintance, 1943,Miriam tried every trick to make Davis quit - from insisting on double her salary to autonomy over make-up and costuming. It was Miriam who was nearly replaced... while Bette cheerfully bedded co-star Gig Young.
- Ann Rutherford, Badlands of Dakota, 1941. Even with her fame on the slide, Miriamrefused the "unsuitable" B-Western.Other sliders involved: Richard Dix as Wild Bill Hickock, Frances Farmer as Calamity Jane.
- Joan Blondell, Lady For A Night, 1941. Early that June, Republic was chasing Hopkins (and Judith Anderson) for the John Wayne film (almost called Memphis Belle!). Director Leigh Jason (who?) settled for Blondell and Blanche Yurka.
- Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1949. When producer-director Cecil B DeMille first planned it in 1935 - opposite Henry Wilcoxon, of course. He was CB’s Mark Antony in the 1934 Cleopatra.
- Gertrude Lawrence, The Glass Menagerie, 1950. Miriam made a less troublesome - ie less drunken - test for Irving Rapper than Tallulah Bankhead. By 1964, Hopkins was a madame in Fanny Hilldirected by... Russ Meyer. Bette Davis’ comments remain unprintable.
- Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951. Producer Irene Selznickseriously considered Hopkins, who felt Blanche DuBois would be her perfectcomeback. "It's almosta foregoneconclusion that I'll win the Oscar... It would make up for not getting Scarlett O’Hara, a part I was destined to play."Or not... She hated British womenplaying Southern belles - Jessica Tandy in Streetcar and, especially, Vivien as Scarlett- "I could have done that role better than anyone."In 1966, Marlon Brando was sad to see her in a small role in "this turkey"- The Chase.