Fox Archives: Gossip columnists and film studios

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In the Golden Age of Hollywood, gossip columnists rose to prominence reporting on the lives and careers of Hollywood’s celebrities. During this period, film studios carefully crafted the public images of the actors they had under contract, and they would often collaborate with gossip columnists to write columns to support these images. Frequently, studio publicity teams would tip off these reporters about the whereabouts and activities of their stars or arrange exclusive interviews to be given to a particular columnist.

The photographs of the gossip columnists in the Photography Collection of the 20th Century Fox Archives are illustrative of the close relationship between the columnists and the film studios. Featured here are four notable reporters, described below. Perhaps the best known of these were Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper, who maintained a long, sometimes rivalrous relationship with each other.

  • Walter Winchell wrote a syndicated column called “On-Broadway” and had a weekly radio spot which was simulcast on television.
  • Elsa Maxwell hosted a radio program entitled “Elsa Maxwell’s Party Line” and wrote a syndicated gossip column. She was a professional event hostess and appeared as herself in a number of films.
  • Hedda Hopper wrote a column for the Los Angeles Times entitled, “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” and hosted radio and television shows. She started her career as an actress of stage and film and would occasionally make film and television appearances later in her career.
  • Louella Parsons wrote a number of gossip columns, including a widely read column in the Los Angeles Examiner. She also hosted a radio program entitled “Hollywood Hotel” and made a few cameo appearances in films.

The Fox Archives is mandated to collect, catalog, preserve and make accessible the following assets of the 20th Century Fox studios: props, set decoration, photographs, art department and publicity materials from our film and television productions, and from the 20th Century Fox studio itself. We work primarily with internal Fox groups but also from time to time with outside organizations such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.