Friday, March 1, 2013

Miss Hope Hampton

When I think of Hope Hampton, I picture pearls, furs, diamonds, and just all out glamour. Part of that could be her name, it just sounds like the name of a fabulous, rich woman.  I also just read a quote from movie star Hope Emerson, talking about how she sometimes got confused with two other actresses, Faye Emerson and Hope Hampton. Hope Emerson was known for her comedic quips like this, "If I had their looks and Hope's money, I'd be leading a Technicolor life for love, instead of working in a Technicolor picture for dough." (This quote is from the book I am currently reading called Femme Noir: Bad Girls of Film by Karen Burroughs Hannsberry. It is a really good book so far, filled with mini biographies. I am currently in the middle of Rita Hayworth's).

Hope Hampton was born Mae Elizabeth Hampton on February 19, 1897 in Houston, Texas (although I have also read Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was her birthplace).

I can't find anything about her early life, which is really annoying to me. I do know that she got her start in the motion picture industry after winning a beauty contest in Philadelphia. It was after this win that she began appearing as an extra in films. Technically, her first film was one called Woman in 1918 with a bunch of people whose names I don't recognize. But, her first time credited on screen was in 1920's A Modern Salome with Agnes Ayres.

Most screen actresses at that time were given a special nickname, and they were usually positive. But, Hope earned the nickname "Hopeless Hampton" because a lot of people thought that she couldn't act. That didn't seem to matter though, considering who she was married to at the time...

Hope met director Jules Brulatour early in her career, and it was a match made in heaven. Not only did she find the man to complete her personal life, he also helped with her professional life. She appeared in several of Brulatour's films, so it doesn't seem like her acting, or lack thereof, was that big a deal.

Brulatour was an infamous player (yes, I am using that word). He had previously had a pretty public affair with another silent film star, Dorothy Gibson, who was actually more famous for being a Titanic survivor than a screen star. Brulatour's wife filed for divorce after finding out that her husband was cheating, and eventually, he married his mistress. The marriage didn't last though and he was soon divorced for the second time. However, he was still legally married to Gibson when he began romancing Hope.

When Brulatour's divorce from Dorothy Gibson was finalized, he and Hope were finally able to get married on August 22, 1923. It seems that his third time was a charm because they remained married until his death in 1946.  Apparently there are rumors that the relationship produced a child around 1920, but the paternity of the child, or what happened to it, was never publicly confirmed.

With the coming of talking pictures, it seems as though Hope had had enough of the movies, so she decided to retire. A few years later she did appear in one talkie, that was of course directed by Jules Brulatour, The Road to Reno (1938).

Hope's idea of retirement was not to sit and home and relax. Instead, she decided to turn her talents to the opera. She apparently toured with the Met in various operas, but apparently the archives are lacking documentation of this. (Second hand info, I haven't looked).

Along with opera career, she also seemed to be quite the social butterfly. Her friends and neighbors called her "Duchess of Park Avenue" because she was always out and about at various social events.

Hope Hampton passed away on January 23, 1982 in New York City. I have no idea where she is buried unfortunately. I don't even know where Brulatour is buried!

Some say that Hope was the model for Susan Alexander in Citizen Kane. But, this is just like the Norma Desmond/Sunset Blvd. argument, where there are various people who the characters are rumored to be modeled after.

Her favorite color seems to have been blue since most of clothes (rumored to have over 5000 dresses) were some shade of blue.

She loved to go out dancing later in life, and was even voted "Miss Twist" of 1962 at the Peppermint  Lounge in New York. Go Hope!

There apparently was once a strange incidence at the Brulatour home late one night in 1939. An intruder broke into the home and then shot Brulatour. He was only wounded, but he refused to identify the person who had almost killed him, even going as far as saying that he had accidentally shot the head...and then got rid of the gun...Yeah, you can guess why the police were more than just a little suspicious of his story.

After her husband's death, Hope had her own crime drama of her own, first when some of her jewelry and furs were stolen from her home. When questioned about who could have possibly broken in, her response was, "I know they're not married and are lone operators because they left dozens of nylon stockings they would have taken for their girls." I love that quote.

Her second bit of crime drama was in August of 1960 when her butler, Charles Mourey, was found shot to death on the side of the road in Miami. I don't know if the murder was ever solved, but it looks like they started off the investigation in some good ole fashioned bigotry style according to an article in the Miami News: "Although they have questioned hundreds of homosexuals and individuals who prey on homosexuals..." Oh, good lord. They also call him a "dapper French butler," in the first sentence of the article. Really cunning. Interesting to note too is that Mr. Mourey had also worked for General George Patton during the war.

"Glamour is finished. I don't want my picture in the papers next to a girl with jeans on." ~~ Hope Hampton

Hope is one of the actresses to appear in this AMAZING color film clip from Kodak in 1922.


  1. I knew about Hope Hampton but not much and so you filled in some blanks. Hopefully someone can fill you in where she is buried as it would be nice to know this. Love the early technicolour-so neat to see

  2. The technicolor film is just the most amazing thing ever. It made Mae, Mary, and Hope seem more real instead of these beautiful goddesses of the silver screen. I could sit and watch it all day.

  3. It was wonderful to see this film of my great Aunt Hope.

    1. How cool you are related to her! Glad you were able to see her in that video too. What a treat!

  4. Hope Hampton is fascinating. I was watching some footage of Joan Crawford's last puplic appearance at the Rainbow room, and after they interviewed Crawford, they interview lots of other celebrities including Miss Hampton. This takes place in 1975. Does anyone know what happened to her child?

    1. Oooh! I'm gonna have to look that video clip up! Thanks for the heads up about that.
      As far as Hope's child, all I have seen are rumors that they had a child together. In his obituary, his only children listed are the three from his first marriage. So, could have been that the child never existed or that it died while still a baby.