William Hopper lived life as an actor, a car salesman, and a naval officer who served in World War II. People who watched him while he was in the show business might know him as Paul Drake following his role on the CBS courtroom television series “Perry Mason”. Four decades after his exit from the entertainment business people still ransack the internet to search about him – he must be special.
Here’s everything you need to know about him here.
William Hopper: Early life
William Hopper was born into the family of thespians on January 26, 1915, in New York City. His birth name is William DeWolf Hopper Jr and he was the only child of actor, singer, comedian, and theatrical producer DeWolf Hopper and his fifth wife, actress Hedda Hopper.
William Hopper is not related to actor Dennis Hopper. He had one older half-brother, John A. Hopper, from his father’s second marriage. As a child, William had no interest in the show business but that decision of choosing a career path to follow was not his to make as his father brought him to his own film “Sunshine Dad” setting in 1916 as a baby. Later in his life, his mother started encouraging him to pursue a career in acting after she divorced his father in 1922 and relocated to Hollywood with him.
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William’s mother possessed so much power in Hollywood as she was regarded as one of America’s best-known gossip columnists, with nearly 30 million readers in newspapers in the U.S. The paper headlines said syrupy things about him, all thanks to his mother who put him out on print positively.
He was famously known as Bill, a nickname he adopted when he joined showbiz.
William Hopper: Movies
William Hopper made his acting debut at the Pasadena Community Playhouse, in a play entitled “She Loves Me Not”. He took his acting talent to Broadway productions and became a member of the ensemble in Katharine Cornell’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”.
He soon won an acting contract with Paramount Pictures and starred in many of its productions under the name DeWolf Hopper. In 1936, he played a small role as a soldier in the Columbia Pictures film “The King Steps Out” alongside Grace Moore and Franchot Tone. In 1937, he played the lead role in two films, “Public Wedding” with Jane Wyman and “Over the Goal” with June Travis.
Later in his career, he confessed that his mother pushed him into acting. “When I worked at Warner Bros.,” Hopper said, “I was so scared I stuttered all the time.”
During World War II, he abandoned acting and volunteered with the Office of Strategic Services and served with the United States Navy as a member of the newly created Underwater Demolition Team. He received a Bronze Star and several other medals during operations in the Pacific.
When the war ended, he became a car salesman in Hollywood and acted only when opportunities came his way. Luckily for him, a friend, the famous director Bill Wellman encouraged him to return to acting fully which he did in the 1950s. He starred in the science-fiction films “20 Million Miles to Earth” and “The Deadly Mantis”.
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His breakout role came when he played the role of a private investigator Paul Drake on CBS’s courtroom television series “Perry Mason”. The series received good ratings and William Hopper was nominated as Best Supporting Actor (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series at the 11th Primetime Emmy Awards following his role.
William Hopper’s first marriage was in 1940 to actress Jane Kies, whose professional name was Jane Gilbert; she was the sister of Margaret Lindsay. Hopper and Jane appeared in the film “Invisible Stripes.” They had one daughter, Joan, who was born in 1947. The couple divorced in 1959, and later that same year, Hopper married a second wife who goes by the name Jan. Jan was with him until his demise.
Cause of death and final net worth
On Valentine’s Day 1970, Williams Hopper was hospitalized at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs, California after suffering a stroke. He died after three weeks on March 6, at the age of 55. He was buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California.
In the show business, the dead keeps making money even long after they have passed on. For example, Michael Jackson has been named as the highest-earning artiste for the 7th time long after his death; out-earning the living.
William in the other hand is still worth a reasonable amount of money even four decades after his death. The actor has a net worth of 4 million dollars as of 2019. William Hopper died four years after his mother’s death. He was very tall, stood at a height of 1.93 meters of 6 ft 3 inches. His hair was dark blonde but his time at the Underwater demolition in the Navy during World War II turned it into white.
Image source: Elcinema