Prior to being a Navy frogman doing underwater demolition in the pacific during WW II William Hopper's hair was dark blonde, the stress of the danger turned it permanently white.
I didn't dislike movie people, but they were nothing special to me. I'd been around them all my life. My mother's [Hedda Hopper] the kind who could say "Howdeedo" to the king of England and feel perfectly at home. But I couldn't.
William DeWolf Hopper, Jr. (January 26, 1915 – March 6, 1970) was an American actor. He is best-remembered for playing Paul Drake on television's Perry Mason.
Hopper was born in New York City, the only child of actor/matinee idol DeWolf Hopper (1858–1935) and actress/gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (née "Elda Furry", 1885–1966).
His debut motion picture appearance was as a baby in his father's 1916 silent movie Sunshine Dad. His mother divorced his elderly father in 1924, and she and Billy eventually moved to Hollywood.
He enlisted as a frogman in the Navy in 1942, and won a Bronze Star for bravery and heroic action during operations in the Pacific.
He was discharged in 1945 when the war ended, but he chose not to return to the movie industry. Instead, he became a car salesman in Hollywood for eight years.
He began his acting career as a teenager, working in summer stock in Ogunquit, Maine. He went from there to Broadway, where he appeared in two plays, Order Please and Romeo and Juliet (both 1934).
In 1936, he played the small role as a photographer in the movie The King Steps Out starring Grace Moore and Franchot Tone at Columbia. In 1937 he portrayed the leading man in two films, Public Wedding with Jane Wyman and Over the Goal (both 1937).
He also enjoyed significant roles alongside Ann Sheridan in The Footloose Heiress (1937) and Mystery House (1938).
Hopper appeared in numerous movies, mostly uncredited or using the name DeWolf Hopper in the early years.
In the mid 1950s, Hopper resumed his acting career with his role as Roy in The High and the Mighty (1954) starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Laraine Day, and Robert Stack. In 1956, Hopper starred in Wayne's production of Good-bye, My Lady.
Other appearances include his role as the father of Natalie Wood in Rebel Without a Cause (1955) with James Dean, Robert Mitchum's brother in Track of the Cat (1954), and as Col. Kenneth Penmark in The Bad Seed (1956) starring Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack. Hopper also starred in the science fiction classic 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957). Also in 1957, he played a supporting role in the pilot episode of The Restless Gun TV series broadcast as an episode of The Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.
His television guest appearances include The Joseph Cotten Show, Gunsmoke, Studio 57, The Millionaire, and Schlitz Playhouse of Stars.
He made two movie appearances during his years on Perry Mason, but retired after the show was canceled in 1966. He made one final movie appearance playing a judge, Frederic D. Cannon, in Gore Vidal's Myra Breckinridge (1970) starring Raquel Welch, John Huston, Farrah Fawcett, Rex Reed, and Mae West.
His crowning achievement was his regular role as private investigator Paul Drake on the classic lawyer CBS television series Perry Mason (1957–1966) with Raymond Burr as Mason and Barbara Hale as secretary Della Street.
In 1959, Hopper was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Series for his role as Paul Drake.
n the mid to late 1930s Hopper would, on occasion, visit nightclubs with film actress Isabel Jewell. He married actress Jane Gilbert (née Kies, sister of the better-known Margaret Lindsay) in 1940, with whom he had one daughter, Joan (born 1942).
The couple divorced in 1959, and, shortly thereafter, he married his second wife, Jeanette J. Hopper. Her son, Gordon P. Williams, became Hopper's stepson.
Hopper was hospitalized on February 14, 1970, after a stroke at his home in Yucca Valley, and was transferred to a hospital in Palm Springs when pneumonia developed. The pneumonia proved fatal on March 6. Hopper was fifty-five at the time of his death.
He was interred in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California.