Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spotlight on Miriam Hopkins

by David J. Schow


Mrs. Kry was once the toast of Tinseltown, and endeared herself to the horror genre forever when she provided one of the first racy “side-boob” flashes as Ivy the prostitute in the 1932 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (itself notable for winning Fredric March an Oscar in the title role … for a horror movie!).

The first choice of author Margaret Mitchell to portray Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, Miriam later regretted turning down the lead in It Happened One Night, which won Claudette Colbert an Oscar.  (“Mims” was portrayed by Sheilah Welles in the TV-Movie The Scarlett O'Hara Wars [1980]).

At the time she portrayed Mrs. Kry, Miriam was a four-time divorcee.  “Don’t Open Till Doomsday” was not her swan song.  She continued to perform through 1970; she died in October 1971.


  1. Thanks for the Hopkins gallery, David. I've always liked her. She brings out my scarcely contained inner Hyde as Champagne Ivy.

    A damned fine actress who carried a lot of forgotten early sound films. Studio system circumstances and some of her own career choices have relegated her to second-tier status, it seems.

    She runs away with "Doomsday," sublimating whatever neurotic fears she held about lost beauty in a fearless performance under pancake makeup.

  2. Dave--

    Many thanks for this gallery, which makes clear Ms. Hopkins' (former) stature in Tinseltown's Golden Age. All the more reason why "Doomsday" stands out as one of TOL's most remarkable achievements--whatever one actually thinks of the episode itself; you CAN'T ignore it!

    Like "Sunset Boulevard", "Doomsday" functions on a number of different levels of Hollywoodism--in both cases, we are watching an actress playing a role, but we are also witnessing something of a current documentary of the actress HERSELF when these respective films were made: glory days long gone, beauty faded, forgotten, reclusive,...something of a pathetic curiosity from a former era. And, for me at least, this makes Miriam's performance in "Doomsday" all the more moving.

    One only needs to browse this gallery of vintage photos--then watch the actress crawling around on the floor under her bed, tugging on her too-tight flapper dress, tamping down that hideous wig with spit, etc...then deliver the big central emotional scene....to appreciate the fact that Stefano--regardless of whatever else he did or didn't do in this episode--created something extraordinary by providing this bizarre tour-de-force role for one of Hollywood's former queens. It's a small piece of cinema history.


  3. Ditto that, Larry R--- "Doomsday" is a marvelous paean to both a great actress whose spotlight had waned and the OLD DARK HOUSE period in which she strutted in its glory and regaled us with her enduring work---none of it more impressive than what the old gal could summon here, eh?

  4. Thanks David , for the spotlight and lovely pictures of Miriam. I didn't realize what a beauty she was; clearly a fine actress. It was one of the things Outer Limits did so well, to give older greats a chance to shine again.

  5. Well done, DJS. Miriam certainly deserves recognition. I thought she was fabulously creepy in this episode, and makes it worth watching again. I did not make the connection to the 1930's Miriam that I knew, however, until I saw the photos here.

    She also gave an excellent performance as a pickpocket in Ernst Lubitsch's 1932 comedy, "Trouble in Paradise." John, you may recall her from the movie I made everyone enjoy (endure) over the holidays. I recommend checking that out if you enjoy pre-code cinema (John is behind me, shaking his head).

  6. I didn't realize that we her in "Paradise" (or "Jekyll & Hyde" for that matter). I did like her in both of those, for what it's worth...


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