BiographyCleveland, Ohio, USA
American playwright, many of whose plays were filmed. The leading light of early twentieth-century light comedy and farce and one of the most commercially successful playwrights of his era, Hopwood, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, graduated from the University of Michigan, which would later be the beneficiary of much of his substantial estate. He began a career as a journalist for a Cleveland newspaper as its New York correspondent, but within a year had one of his plays, "Clothes," produced on Broadway. Read more... Days." His plays were looked upon at the time as extremely risqué and one of them, "The Demi-Virgin," which featured suggestive subject matter and near-nude actresses, led to a Supreme Court determination over its alleged obscenity. (The court ruled in Hopwood's favor.) His Prohibition-era plays of flappers, bathtub gin, and jazz were iconic for his age, and his own life was reflected in aspects of his plays. He was a heavy drug and alcohol user, and he kept his homosexuality tightly concealed. Despite making millions of dollars a year in royalties, he was known as a tightwad. An inveterate proponent of night life, he died while vacationing on the Riviera under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Ultimately it was ruled that he had drowned, though bruises on his body and the simultaneous presence in the vicinity of an angry ex-lover who had reportedly threatened him have kept suspicion alive. The University of Michigan established the Hopwood Prize with his bequest, providing funds and education for many future leading lights of the American theatre.