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Hedda Hopper's HollywoodCelebrity Gossip and American Conservatism$
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Jennifer Frost

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814728239

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814728239.001.0001

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Representing Race in the Face of Civil Rights

Representing Race in the Face of Civil Rights

(p.139) 6 Representing Race in the Face of Civil Rights
Hedda Hopper's Hollywood

Jennifer Frost

NYU Press

This chapter considers Hedda Hopper's racism. Hopper believed in and was comfortable with white superiority. But despite being known within the motion picture industry as “deeply bigoted,” she eschewed virulent expressions of racism in public. The African American actors of whom Hopper approved were all performers associated with racially stereotypical and often demeaning roles. Her interactions with them were characterized by paternalism and condescension, demonstrating her beliefs in black inferiority and inequality. For blacks in the post-World War II period who challenged Hollywood's old stock stereotypes, offered new images of African Americans, and refused her paternalism, such as Sidney Poitier, Hopper's support came much more slowly, if at all. She also joined with her anti-Communist allies in the motion picture industry to link proponents of racial change on the film screen and in American society with Communism, bringing together her Red Scare politics with her anti-civil-rights agenda.

Keywords:   Hedda Hopper, gossip columnists, racism, race discrimination, civil rights, African Americans, Hollywood, racial change, Communism

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