Her real name was Elda Furry, and she was a butcher’s daughter from Altoona who could not wait to leave rural Pennsylvania.
Born in 1885 in Hollidaysburg, Pa., she left the Carter Conservatory of Music in Pittsburgh and headed to New York to become a chorus girl on Broadway.
For $10, a numerologist determined that her new first name should be Hedda. It paired well with the last name of DeWolf Hopper, a silent screen star she married.
By 1915, Hedda Hopper was in Hollywood, where she acted in more than 120 silent films, earning her the nickname “Queen of the Quickies.”
By the 1930s, she was finished as an actress and began writing newspaper stories to pay the bills. Soon, she discovered that writing gossip about Hollywood stars paid handsomely. Affairs, divorces and abrupt departures from Hollywood filled her weekly column.
During the era of the Hollywood blacklist, the words in her syndicated column ruined careers and lives because she relied on FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to tell her which talented people in Tinseltown should be branded as Communists, or Communist sympathizers.
So, it’s nothing less than ironic that a book she published in 1963 was titled “The Whole Truth and Nothing But.”
Hedda Hopper, who died in 1966, is buried in Altoona.