Clyde E. Hopkins, a Heaping Helping of His Hollywood History

Clyde E. Hopkins

Clyde E. Hopkins


Clyde Emory Hopkins was a man of medium height, of a slender build, light-brown eyes, and by the time he arrived on the celluloid scene his black hair was already receding slightly. Hopkins is another actor whose beginning is not easy to trace; he began on stage,[1] but in what productions I am not able to discern. It appears that any treading of the boards by Hopkins would have been at local theaters in the Los Angeles area while in his teen-years or even earlier while still in Kansas as a child; regardless of which, those stage appearances are gone without a trace.

Hopkins was born on June 25, 1893, in Garnett, Kansas, to John E. Hopkins and Myrtle M. Spencer, and his younger brother, Lloyd was born two years later; his family moved to Los Angeles before Clyde turned 18. He was hired to be a part of the Reliance Studio stock company in the summer of 1915;[2] he made 19 film appearances, from 1915 through 1924 and with, Wild Papa, in 1925, he was employed as an assistant director. Although his career was ten short years, never achieving stardom, yet he acted alongside with the super-stars of the era and took direction from the finest of the silent film producers.

Sometime between 1926 and 1928, Hopkins gave up on his Hollywood dream, and found full-time employment as a salesman, with the Pacific Pipe & Supply Company of San Bernardino. But, sales had been his bridge during his years in the movies, dealing with expenses that the film-checks did not cover, changing jobs as often as he changed addresses around Los Angeles. Often, during those days Hopkins was still living with his parents, John and Myrtle, and his brother Lloyd, as was the case in 1916, which with six movies that year (his second most productive year of his career), and his best as far as the quality of projects with, The Price of Power, Susan Rocks the Boat, Hell-to-Pay Austin, The Rummy and The Matrimaniac. Hopkins clearly flirted with stardom in 1916, especially with, The Price of Power with Marguerite Marsh and Susan Rocks the Boat, starring Dorothy Gish.


Waco Morning News, Waco, Texas, February 8, 1916


San Bernardino County Sun, San Bernardino, California, June 18, 1916

Motography May 13, 1916 Susan Rocks the Boat

Fred A. Turner, Clyde Hopkins and Dorothy Gish, in Susan Rocks the Boat, Motography May 13, 1916


In January of 1920, which was just two months after the release of, The Trembling Hour (Hopkins received fifth billing for the flick[3]), and a half year removed from the premier of, The Mother and the Law, he at the age of twenty-six was still at home with mom and dad. 1924 and the young Mr. Hopkins was a purchasing Agent and still with his parents. It could not have been easy to make ends meet with such sporadic film work and I guess from Hopkins’ perspective, sales positions offered two advantages during the time he spent at the Hollywood studios, that of working at his own pace rather than punching a clock and sales afforded the individual the opportunities to persuade and connect with those listening to the pitch and might have proved the easiest endeavor for him to succeed in.

WW1 Hopkins: We do know that Hopkins was active for his country, a WW1 veteran serving in the Signal Corps in France; 1917-1918, were his year of draft and service.[4] 1917 offered  a couple of artistic accomplishments of which he was a significant part, appearing in, A Girl of the Timber Claims and Betsy’s Burglar, both films starring Constance Talmadge, but the rest of the year Hopkins was relegated to roles that found his name at the bottom of the credits. 1918, found Hopkins in just one production, The Kid is Clever, this time with sixth billing.[5]

Personal Hopkins:

Clyde Emory Hopkins married Ruth L. Morrow on December 30, 1925, with the ceremony officiated by Reverend Edwin A. Palmer of the Methodist Episcopal Church; Hopkins was thirty-two and Ruth twenty-three.  The couple resided in San Bernardino, California and they celebrated the birth of their son Clyde E. Hopkins Jr. on October 5, 1926.

Clyde Emory Hopkins and his wife Ruth

Clyde Emory Hopkins and his wife Ruth


Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins were highly involved in society in and around the San Bernardino area,[6] with Clyde Sr., becoming the sergeant-at-arms with the American Legion, Post No. 14,[7] he was an alternate delegate at the California American Legion state convention in 1931 and held different positions with the Legion throughout the years.[8] In addition to his work as a Legionnaire, he was a member of the Forty & Eight Society, which was established for the camaraderie for the leaders of the American Legion.[9] Hopkins was not just a member or a principal only with the Legionnaires, but he and his wife were seen at the functions and festivities for both the Legion and the Forty & Eight.[10] Official activity with the Legionnaires was not restricted to Mr. Hopkins but Ruth Hopkins was the sergeant-at-arms for the Auxiliary to the San Bernardino American Legion post.[11] Clyde was granted a divorce in June of 1932, on the grounds of neglect; San Bernardino was not to remain the forever home for the Hopkins , soon he would move to Los Angeles proper.[12] This separation lasted but a short while, the couple remarried and had their second son, Keith in 1934. Their second time around as a couple did not last for the long haul, with another divorce and Ruth marrying Elbert Burrows in 1953.

Acting after Hollywood:

As Hopkins had begun on stage, so the footlights called to him again and he joined the Pilgrim Players of Los Angeles, a religious theater troupe, managed and directed by Dr. George Bunnell. The Christian acting group played most dates at churches in California, particularly in the Santa Ana vicinity, making the occasional trips across the country.[13] The stock company was made up of professional and semi-professional actors,[14] offering such titles as, Peter, the Rock, The Rich Young Ruler, a comedy with a moral, These Wives of Ours, The Unknown Soldier Speaks, and The Perfect Gift.[15] The company had its genesis in 1929 and was quite well known in California.[16]

After acting Hopkins became a salesman for plumbing supplies, he never remarried and he died on November 19, 1958 in Los Angeles at the Veterans Administration Hospital on Wilshire Blvd. Hopkins had been in the hospital for nearly forty days facing complications with cerebral thrombosis, cebrebral arteriosclerosis and myocradial infarction; Bresee Bros. & Gillett provided the funeral services and Hopkins was laid to rest at Hollywood Memorial Park on November 24, 1958, survived by his son Clyde.

Hpkins grave marker


Hopkins Hopped Over:

Somewhere in Missouri, a 1923-24 production appears to not only be lost from the history of Hopkins but with producer-director Hal Roach as well. This movie was helmed by the head honcho himself, with Hopkins and Roy Clements providing service as assistant-directors.[17] Location filming was in Merced, California and was completed by the first few days of January, 1924.[18] The film starred, Glenn Tryon, Blanche Mehaffey, Emma Tanzey (AKA: Tansey), John Gavin, Leo Willis, Bob Kortman and Richard Daniels;[19] the plot of Somewhere in Missouri was a human-interest, small-town political drama.[20] Although, Somewhere in Missouri had many of the same cast, as another Roach feature film, The White Sheep, yet the story-lines were dissimilar, and Somewhere in Missouri was nearing release in March of 1924,while The White Sheep premiered in December of the same year. With that said, it is still possible that the film was reworked, or the release delayed and Missouri might well be White Sheep; I could find no evidence of advertising for, Somewhere in Missouri. Regardless, of the title the assistant-directing credit still belongs to Hopkins. In 1925, Mr. Hopkins also filled the position of Purchasing Agent for Hal Roach Studios; how long held that position was not reported.[21]

Sherlock Sleuth, starring Arthur Stone and Martha Sleeper, directed by Ralph Ceder, is a two-reel comedy that was released in the summer of 1925 and lacks the credit deserved by Mr. Hopkins as an assistant-director, along with Frank Young as cinematographer.[22]


By C. S. Williams


[1] Altoona Tribune, (Altoona, Pennsylvania) Friday, September 10, 1915

[2] Moving Picture World, September 4, 1915

[3] Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) August 23, 1919

[4] Decatur Daily Review (Decatur, Illinois) July 23, 1917

Photoplay Magazine, October 1918

[5] Wichita Daily Eagle (Wichita, Kansas) July 21, 1918

[6] The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) Sunday, March 25, 1928

The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) Thursday, June 3, 1933

[7] The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) Thursday, September 10, 1931

[8] The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) Thursday, September 19, 1931

The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) Thursday, March 19, 1932

The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) Thursday, June 3, 1933

[9] The San Bernardino Daily Sun (San Bernardino, California) Saturday, September 19, 1931

[10] San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) October 20, 1931

[11] San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) October 8, 1931

[12] San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, California) May 15; June 22, 1932; February 27, 1936

[13] Covina Citizen (Covina, California) May 12, 1932

Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) January 27, 1934

[14] Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) November 25, 1933

Modesto News-Herald (Modesto, California) April 9, 1938

[15] Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) December 10, , 1932

Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) November 25, 1933

Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) January 27, 1934

Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) May 28, 1934

Torrance Herald (Torrance, California) December 27, 1934

[16] Torrance Herald (Torrance, California) December 27, 1934

[17] Film Daily, December 9, 1923

[18] Exhibitors Herald, January 5, 1924

[19] Exhibitors Trade Review, December 29, 1923

[20] Exhibitors Trade Review, December 29, 1923

[21] Picture Play, March, 1924

Film Daily Year, 1925

[22] Exhibitors Trade Review, December 20, 1924


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