Sunday, May 28, 2017

Born Today May 28: Avery Hopwood


American playwright Avery Hopwood was born James Avery Hopwood, in Cleveland, Ohio on this day.  He grew up on Cleveland and attended high school there.  In 1901 he entered the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.  The next year, he matriculated to Adelbert College, but returned to the U. of Michigan, where he graduated in 1905.  His writing career began when he was hired as journalist for a Cleveland paper to man their New York office.  Very quickly, in 1906 in fact, he was able to get his play Clothes produced on Broadway.  Quite the prolific writer, a sort of American Noel Coward, he quickly turned out comedic farcical plays one after the other.  At one point, in 1920, four of his plays were running on Broadway at once.  It was not long before films took up his work as well.  It was in 1914 when Clothes was made into a film by the Famous Players Film Co. The vast majority of the films made from his work came within his lifetime and just following his death, in the silent and early sound era. Perhaps the best known of his works committed to film is The Bat released in 1926, and remade in 1930 as The Bat Whispers, and again in 1959 starring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead (Hopwood actually only penned the third act of the play).  The first sound film made of his work came in 1929 with Gold Diggers Of Broadway; a film that features full mono sound by Vitagraph and the early 2-strip technicolor.  Since 1940 only 13 films have been made utilizing his plays, the most recent of which is a German made for television film Will das Prachtstück.  Vacationing in France in the summer of 1928, Hopwood suffered a fatal heart attack while swimming Juan-les-Pens.  His body was shipped back to Cleveland, where his mother laid him to rest in the Riverside Cemetery.  He was just 46 years of age.  

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