I’ve become interested in Louella Parsons. I mostly knew of her from her rivalry with Hedda Hopper but I learned that she got her first start in Hollywood/entertainment/media when she was a scenario writer/screenwriter for Essanay Film Manufacturing Company in Chicago in the 1910s. Her notoriety came from her radio show and gossip columns in New York and LA but her start came as a writer in Chicago.
I’m very interested to learn more about Parsons’ Chicago career, including her time at Essanay as well as the time when she worked at Hearst’s Chicago paper. I’m also interested to learn more about her role in the Hearst campaign to suppress “Citizen Kane.” Was she just a mouthpiece? or did she have stakes in the matter? I’m very early in my research on Parsons so I’m interested to read more about how it all played out.
I have the Samantha Barbas book about her on hold at the library and I know that will give me a good foundation. A few interesting links I’ve found so far include:
Photoplay in the 1950s: The Old Biddies: A terrific analysis about the celebrity/gossip relationship of Old Hollywood and the matronly, “old biddy” personas of Parsons, Hopper and fellow gossip columnists Elsa Maxwell and Sheila Graham:
“… [T]hese women ARE ALL OLD BIDDIES. Especially by the time we get to the mid-’50s — these ladies used to be matronly, but now they’re downright elderly. They’re your Great Aunt with the costume jewelry telling your brother to shave his beard. And they were the face of traditional fan magazines — and gossip more generally — as Hollywood attempted to reconfigure itself during the 1950s.” — Anne Helen Petersen
Give Louella an Ince; She’ll Take a Column: A Snopes article that examines the possibility that Parsons got her lifetime contract with Hearst because she kept quiet about the goods she had on a murder Hearst committed.
The Warrior Queens of Gossip: A 1985 People Magazine profile of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, included as part of a feature on the CBS made-for-TV movie “Malice in Wonderland,” (Netflix) starring Elizabeth Taylor as Parsons and Jane Alexander as Hopper. I think it’s interesting the amount of page count the magazine gave to this piece; I can’t imagine today’s People Magazine would give over this much room to a backgrounder for a TV movie, especially when the subjects of the movie are two elderly women who had died 15 years prior to publication.
Bette Davis talks about Louella Parsons: A clip from the Dick Cavett show. Bette Davis talks about how she managed gossip columnists and very briefly touches on Louella Parsons in particular. It’s just mostly Bette Davis and Dick Cavett being terrific and having a lot of fun chatting with each other and performing the relationship between star and celeb-journalist.