She was a huge star in the 1930s and a fine character actress later in her career.
Born in 1902 in Savannah, Georgia, Hopkins came from a wealthy Southern family, and attended private schools and Syracuse Univ. She studied dance for a time and found herself, at age 20, a chorus girl in various local musicals. She logged a pretty decent stage dossier, and in 1930, signed with Paramount Pictures.
One of her first films, one we like a lot, is 1931’s The Smiling Lieutenant with Maurice Chevalier. (See below).
She proved to be an excellent comedienne, and shone in the 1932 comedy Trouble in Paradise as well as 1933’s Design For Living. Hopkins also starred in the 1933 box office smash, The Story of Temple Drake (originally titled Shame of Temple Drake), at the time making her the highest paid actress on the Paramount lot.
Miriam had her disappointments. She yearned to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind — and supposedly was novelist Margaret Mitchell’s first choice for the part — but it was not to be. She also turned down the role that Claudette Colbert won an Oscar for in 1934’s It Happened One Night.
I’m a bad judge of a play or film. I said it was just a silly comedy, she later remarked.
Still, she played key roles in such as 1935’s Becky Sharp and William Wyler’s superb 1949 drama The Heiress, costarring Montgomery Clift and Olivia DeHavilland. (See photo below.)
Hopkins, who had been married and divorced four times (for two years in the late Thirties, she was hitched to director Anatole Litvak), died of a heart attack in New York City in 1972. She had a highly publicized feud for many years with Bette Davis, who grudgingly conceded that Miriam was a good actress but also a “real bitch.”
We take no stand in this matter.