Noel Coward on Vulgar Curiosity, Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons

sophia loren hedda hopper unidentified clifton webb louella parsons

… But during the last few years this has become increasingly difficult owing to the misguided encouragement of a new form of social parasite, the gossip columnist. This curious phenomenon has insinuated itself itself into the lifestream not only of Hollywood but the whole of America, and what began as a minor form of local, social and professional scandalmongering has now developed into a major espionage system the power of which, aided and abetted by radio, has reached fabulous proportions… This is not done, except on rare occasions, with any particularly malicious intent, but merely to gratify one of the least admirable qualities of human nature: vulgar curiosity. The accuracy of what is written, stated, listened to and believed is immaterial. The monster must be fed, and the professionally employed feeder of it is highly paid and acquires a position of power in the land which would be ridiculous were it not so ominous. In Hollywood, where this epidemic first began to sap the nations mental vitality, no large and few small small social gatherings can take place without one or several potential spies being present… Excerpt from “A Richer Dust” by Noel Coward

Imagine what he would have thought of social networking?

Hedda and Louella

9 comments

  1. Could you imagine those two on Facebook? Meow. Hey, I did want to tell you that I just got my tickets to Conversations with Edith Head which will be at the Denver Film Society. A friend and I are going, we wanted to come in some kind of Edith Head design. I may only have time to whip up the Marshmallow gown. But, I’ll have to check my bravery meter first. We’ll see. Thanks much for posting on this show.

    • Wait, there’s a film called “Conversations with Edith Head”?!?!?! I MUST SEE THIS! I have the book she wrote, and my husband and I scream her name every time it shows up in the credits (which is a lot, as I’m a classic film addict). The red-haired retro bust that I use to model my vintage cat eye glasses for ebay sales is named… you guessed it. 😎 Off to Google it! Thanks for the tip!

  2. George Kaplan

    Hedda and Louella. Yuck and Double Yuck. Hideous, hideous human beings. They almost make Waldo Lydecker seem charming.
    As an irrelevant aside it’s weird seeing Clifton Webb an unhappy-looking Myrna Loy in Cheaper by the Dozen (and how *exactly* did Myrna end up with that many children with Mr Belvedere?! Wicked, Know). Boy, that’s a depressing film. Still, maybe the atrocious remake would’ve been better if Steve Martin had died in the end, certainly funnier.
    P. S. Remember we mentioned Monkey Business in comments on another post? It’s on here now. Grant, Ginger, Marilyn (how does she *move* like that?), and the chimp. Hilarious.

    • Clifton Webb, like Basil Rathbone, threw one hell of a party. Unlike Basil he lived with his mom. From what I understand he was a joy to work with, so I can’t account for Myrna Loy’s sourpuss — and I can’t say that I’ve seen the remake. Steve Martin is usually best in material he writes himself. As to Marilyn, she had a gift 😉

      • George Kaplan

        Basil Rathbone! Holmes, Guy of Gisbourne, reliable villain. Few swashed their buckles as well as he! I didn’t know he threw good parties though.
        I have no excuse for watching the Cheaper remake other than that it happened to be er on the T. V., in my defence I didn’t watch much of it…just *enough*…one might say *more than enough*. Ha.
        Mention of Basil makes me think of Henry Daniell, now *there* was a fellow with an amusingly sour fizzog. Meanwhile, the whole Sherlock Holmes makes me think of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes; funny and heart-breaking with a fine Robert Stephens and a divine Geraldine Page, I adore that film. Oh, and then there’s Jeremy Brett, so handsome and charming opposite radiant Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (I Could Have Danced All Night – I find that lovely and heart-breaking too, I know, I’m a hopeless case!), then a wonderful Holmes in the eighties before his illness affected him badly.
        I wonder what Roddy McDowall’s parties were like, apparently he had marvelous guest lists. He’s someone else who seemed a nice guy – but then I liked him as Cornelius in The Planet of the Apes (Kim Hunter similarly charming even under prosthetics, just as she was unadorned in A Matter of Life and Death).
        As if I haven’t blathered on enough, I was going to tell you a story about Vincent Price on the set of Madhouse but that’s has a few too many profanities in from the great Vincent so I’ll save you from that, needless to say you couldn’t blame the great man… Well, I’ve bored you enough, I think. Au revoir!

    • How can you disparage ANYONE responsible for giving us all the tidbits of juicy gossip about our favorite classic film stars? At the time I’m sure they were as fun as a swarm of mosquitoes, but now? I’m glad they were there poking their nose in, giving us all great classic tales to read, even if the stories weren’t all true. Hell, there’s not a newspaper in existence today that gets a story straight. Why should Hedda and Louella be held to a higher standard? I say if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me!

  3. Pingback: Happy 116th Birthday Noel Coward |

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