Hedda Hopper was a gossip columnist who came to fame in the early 1940s (when she was in her 50s). But “Hedda Hopper” wasn’t her original name. It was Elda Furry.
She’d been a performer (both on stage and in the movies) as a young woman — long before she wrote for the newspapers. So it’s logical to assume that the name change happened around the time she embarked upon her showbiz career, right?
As it turns out, that wasn’t the case — she made the switch mid-career. Here’s the story:
Elda was working as a chorus girl for DeWolf Hopper’s theater company in the early 1910s…
[DeWolf Hopper] had had four marriages, and was five years older than Elda’s father, but was still a great charmer and anything but jaded. Hopper’s first four wives were named Ella, Ida, Edna and Nella, in that order, and Elda was a natural for the euphonious sequence. So, about a year after their first meeting, Hopper proposed on a train platform in Grand Central and that afternoon they were married in Wading River, N.J.
Elda shortly became aware of some rather piquant marital complications. Any man with five wives is likely to become confused and, when the wives have such similar names as the Hopper ladies, the situations becomes positively grotesque. Elda discovered that as often as not Hopper would whisper affectionately, “Dear Nella” (or Ella, Ida and Edna) instead of “Dear Elda.” The sensation of being continuously mistaken for someone else became irksome in time, and Elda forthwith visited a numerologist who recommended the name “Hedda.” From then on Hopper never got his lines crossed.
Her marriage to Hopper only lasted from 1913 until 1922, but she retained the name “Hedda Hopper” for the rest of her life.
It’s no coincidence that the usage of the baby name Hedda was highest during the 1940s. Records even reveal that one of the 1944 babies named Hedda was born into a Texas family with the surname Hopper.
Which name do you prefer, Elda or Hedda?
Source: Wickware, Francis Sill. “Hedda Hopper.” Life 20 Nov. 1944: 63-70.
Haidee Wright was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in England in 1867. Her birth name was Ada Wright. Haidee was also a character name in multiple films, including In theSultan’s Garden (short, 1911) and Monte Cristo (1922).
Hedda Hedda Hopper was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1960s. She was born in Pennsylvania in 1885. Her birth name was Elda Furry. Hedda Nova was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Russia in 1899. Hedda was also a character name in multiple films, including A Self-Made Lady (short, 1918) and Servants’ Entrance (1934).
Hedy Lamarr was an actress who appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1950s. She was born in Austria-Hungary (now Austria) in 1914. Her birth name was Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler. Hedy was also a character played by actress Ruth Hussey in the film Bedside Manner (1945).
Hepsabiah Hardlot was a character played by actress Zasu Pitts in the short film He Had ’em Buffaloed (1917).
Hepzibah Pyncheon was a character played by various actresses (such as Mary Fuller and Margaret Lindsay) in various movies called The House of the Seven Gables, all based on the novel of the same name by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Hermia was a character name in multiple films, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1909) and Wood Love (1925).
Hilda Vaughn was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1940s. She was born in Maryland in 1898. Hilda was also a character name in multiple films, including A Girl of the People (short, 1914) and The Top of New York (1922).
In his book The American Language, H. L. Mencken mentioned a “woman professor in the Middle West [with] the given name of Eldarema, coined from those of her grandparents, Elkanah, Daniel, Rebecca and Mary.”
The woman he’s talking about did exist, but Mencken didn’t get her name quite right.
Elda Rema Walker was botany professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. And so was her sister — here they are, listed one after the other, in the University of Nebraska General Catalog for 1916-1917:
(Leva Belle’s names were also inspired by family — parents Levi and Isabel.)
So here’s the Elda Rema baby name formula:
First name =
First 2 letters of one grandfather’s name +
First 2 letters of the other grandfather’s name
Middle name =
First 2 letters of one grandmother’s name +
First 2 letters of the other grandmother’s name
Using the names of your parents and your partner’s parents, can you come up with any usable first + middle combos?
The best I can do is “Aujo Elhe.” Hopefully you can do better…