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DeWolf Hopper

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Cause of death  Heart attack
Children  William Hopper
Role  Actor
Name  DeWolf Hopper
Years active  1878–1935

DeWolf Hopper MediaStreamashxSC2ampImageId91627
Full Name  William De Wolf Hopper
Born  March 30, 1858 (1858-03-30) New York City, New York
Resting place  Cremated; ashes interred in Green-Wood Cemetery
Occupation  Actor, comedian, singer
Died  September 23, 1935, New York City, New York, United States
Spouse  Hedda Hopper (m. 1913–1922)
Movies  Sunshine Dad, Puppets, Stranded, Casey at the Bat
Parents  John Hopper, Rosalie De Wolf
Similar People  Hedda Hopper, Edna Wallace Hopper, Jane Gilbert, Edward Dillon, Lee de Forest

Casey at the bat dewolf hopper 1906 victor first prize record

William DeWolf Hopper (March 30, 1858 – September 23, 1935) was an American actor, singer, comedian, and theatrical producer. A star of the musical theater, he became best known for performing the popular baseball poem Casey at the Bat.


DeWolf Hopper DeWolf and The Kid The National Pastime Museum

Life and career

DeWolf Hopper De Wolf Hopper In Wang A Comic Opera by Everett

Hopper was born William D'Wolf Hopper in New York City, the son of John Hopper (born 1815) and Rosalie D'Wolf (born 1827). His father was a wealthy Quaker lawyer and his mother came from a noted Colonial family. Though his parents intended that he become a lawyer, Hopper did not enjoy that profession. Hopper was called Willie as a child, and then Will or Wolfie, but when he set out on an acting career he chose his more distinguished middle name as his stage name. It was modified to "DeWolf" because of the frequency that it was mispronounced "Dwolf".

DeWolf Hopper image2findagravecomphotos200315335310427755

He made his stage debut in New Haven, Connecticut, October 2, 1878. Originally, he wanted to be a serious actor, but at 6' 5" (196 cm) and 230 pounds, he was too large for most dramatic roles. He had a loud bass singing voice, however, and made his mark in musicals, beginning in Harrigan and Hart's company. He achieved the status of leading man in The Black Hussar (1885) and appeared in the hit Erminie in 1887. Eventually, he starred in more than thirty Broadway musicals, including Castles in the Air (1890), Wang (1891), Panjandrum (1893), and John Philip Sousa's El Capitan (1896). The role that he remembered with greatest pleasure was Old Bill in The Better 'Ole (1919).

DeWolf Hopper ZSR Hopper De Wolf 18581935

Known for his comic talents, Hopper popularized many comic songs and appeared in a number of Gilbert and Sullivan comic "patter" roles from 1911 to 1915, including The Mikado, Patience, and H.M.S. Pinafore.

A lifelong baseball enthusiast and New York Giants fan, he first performed Ernest Thayer's then-unknown poem Casey at the Bat to the Giants and Chicago Cubs the day his friend, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Tim Keefe had his record 19-game winning streak stopped, August 14, 1888. Hopper helped make the comic poem famous and was often called upon to give his colorful, melodramatic recitation, which he did about 10,000 times in his booming voice, reciting it during performances and as part of curtain calls, and on radio. He released a recorded version on phonograph record in 1906, and recited the poem in a short film made in the Phonofilm sound-on-film process in 1923.

It was in The Black Hussar that Hopper first incorporated a baseball theme that drew notice in the sporting press. To accompany a song with a baseball stanza, "Mr. Hopper enacts the pitcher, Mr. [Digby] Bell, with a bird cage on his head and boxing gloves on his hands, plays catcher, while Mme. [Mathilde] Cottrelly handles a diminutive bat as striker and endeavors to make a 'home run.'"

In 1889, Hopper became founding president of the Actors' Amateur Athletic Association of America. Back in 1886, besides organizing a regular ball team among actors, he played in a benefit game for a demented playwright. The following year, he helped organize an actor's benefit for a sick young actress. In the first inning, someone presented him with an eight-inch sunflower.

Also in 1889, Bell, Hopper and fellow McCaull Comic Opera Company actor Jefferson De Angelis were doing the following skit for their third encore in Boccaccio. Bell returns "with a bat in his hand, followed by DeWolf Hopper and De Angelis. The latter has a ball, and as Hopper takes the bat in hand and Bell acts as catcher the former goes through the customary contortion act in pitching, and as Hopper hits the ball he runs off the stage, as if running the bases, and presently returns chased by De Angelis, who passes the ball to Bell as catcher just as Hopper makes a big slide for home base. The slider tumbles Bell, and when he rises from the somersault all three yell out to the audience for judgment [a ruling], and go off kicking like Anson and [New York captain Buck] Ewing. It is a rich gag and takes immediately", the Brooklyn Eagle said.

That year, Bell called Hopper "the biggest baseball crank that ever lived. Physically, of course, he is a corker, but when I say big I mean big morally and intellectually. Why, he goes up to the baseball [Polo] grounds at One Hundred and Fifty-fifth street after the matinees on Saturday, and he travels this six miles simply to see, perhaps, the two final innings, and any one can imagine the rapidity with which he must scrape off the makeup and get into his street clothes in order to secure even this much. But he says the Garrison finishes are worth it, and he is perfectly right. Hopper always was a baseball crank, long before the public knew anything about it."

Bald from childhood (he had alopecia), Hopper wore wigs both on and offstage. In later years, a reaction to harsh medicines that he took for throat problems gave his skin a bluish tinge. Regardless, his powerful voice and great sense of humor seemed an attraction to women all his life. With an insatiable appetite for young actresses, he left a long trail of six wives and countless mistresses in his wake, he became known by the nickname "The Husband of His Country."

Hopper also appeared in several silent motion pictures, one of them a 1915 version of Don Quixote. Hopper also appeared in a few short sound films, including him reciting Casey at the Bat (1923) in an experimental film in Lee De Forest's Phonofilm process.

He made a Broadway appearance in White Lilacs (1928). He then did Radio City Music Hall Inaugural (1932), and played Dr. Gustave Ziska in The Monster (1933). At the time of his death, he was in Kansas City, Missouri, making a radio appearance.

His autobiography, Once a Clown, Always a Clown, written with the assistance of Wesley W. Stout, was published in 1927.


  • At age 21 DeWolf Hopper was married to his first wife, actress Helen Gardner, his second cousin.
  • His second wife was Ida Mosher. They had one son, John A. Hopper, and divorced in 1893.
  • 1893–1898: His third wife was Edna Wallace.
  • 1899–1913: His fourth wife was Nella Bergen, whom he married in London. She was born a Reardon and was divorced from actor James Bergen.
  • 1913–1922: His fifth wife was actress and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper; they had one son, William Hopper.
  • 1925–1935: His sixth wife was vocal instructor Lillian Glaser, a widow.
  • Anecdotes

  • Hopper's favorite dessert was a dish called "brown betty", but his favorite New York restaurant did not serve it. In Bennett Cerf's book Try and Stop Me, Cerf claims that the restaurant's manager offered to feature the dish if Hopper could produce a demand for it. On the first night when brown betty was featured on the menu, Hopper introduced himself to the diners at every table in the restaurant, and urged them to try the brown betty. Hopper then seated himself at his reserved table and gave his meal order to the waitress, climaxing in a double order of brown betty. "I'm sorry, sir", she told him. "We're fresh out."
  • DeWolf Hopper Opera Company productions

    The Charlatan [Original, Musical, Comedy, Opera]
    Dec 5, 1889 – Jun 17, 1899
    Mr. Pickwick [Original, Musical]
    Jan 19, 1903 – May 1903

    Stage roles

    Lorraine [Original, Musical, Comedy, Opera]
    Feb 28, 1887 – Mar 12, 1887, Gaspard de Chateauvieux
    The Begum [Original, Musical, Comedy, Opera]
    Sep 21, 1887 – Dec 10, 1887, Howja-Dhu
    Casey at the Bat [Original, Special, Poem, Solo]
    Aug 14, 1888 – Aug 14, 1888, Himself
    The Charlatan [Original, Musical, Comedy, Opera]
    Dec 5, 1889 – Jun 17, 1899, Demidoff
    Wang [Original, Musical, Comedy, Operetta]
    May 4, 1891 – Oct 3, 1891, Wang
    Fiddle-dee-dee [Original, Musical, Burlesque, Extravaganza]
    Sep 6, 1900 – Apr 20, 1901
    Hoity Toity [Original, Musical, Burlesque]
    Sep 5, 1901 – Apr 19, 1902
    Mr. Pickwick [Original, Musical]
    Jan 19, 1903 – May 1903, Pickwick
    Wang [Revival, Musical, Comedy, Operetta]
    Apr 18, 1904 – Jun 4, 1904, Wang
    Happyland [Original, Musical, Comedy, Opera]
    Oct 2, 1905 – Jun 2, 1906, Ecstaticus
    The Pied Piper [Original, Musical, Comedy]
    Dec 3, 1908 – Jan 16, 1909, The Pied Piper
    A Matinee Idol [Original, Musical, Comedy]
    Apr 28, 1910 – May 1911, Medford Griffin
    H.M.S. Pinafore [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    May 29, 1911 – Jul 8, 1911, Performer
    Patience [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    May 6, 1912 – Jun 1, 1912, Reginald Bunthorne
    The Pirates of Penzance [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Jun 3, 1912 – Jun 26, 1912, Edward
    H.M.S. Pinafore [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Jun 27, 1912 – Jun 28, 1912, Dick Deadeye
    The Mikado [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Jun 29, 1912 – Jun 29, 1912, Ko-Ko
    The Beggar Student [Revival, Musical, Comedy, Opera]
    Mar 22, 1913, General Ollendorf
    The Mikado [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Apr 21, 1913 – May 3, 1913, Ko-Ko
    H.M.S. Pinafore [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    May 5, 1913 – May 10, 1913, Dick Deadeye
    Iolanthe [Revival, Musical, Comedy, Operetta]
    May 12, 1913 – Jun 14, 1913, The Lord Chancellor
    Lieber Augustin [Original, Musical, Operetta]
    Sep 3, 1913 – Oct 4, 1913, Bogumil
    Hop o' My Thumb [Original, Play, Pantomime]
    Nov 26, 1913 – Jan 3, 1914, King Mnemonica
    H.M.S. Pinafore [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Apr 19, 1915 – Jun 19, 1915, Dick Deadeye
    Trial by Jury [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Apr 19, 1915 – Jun 19, 1915, The Learned Judge
    The Yeomen of the Guard [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Apr 19, 1915 – May 8, 1915, Jack Point
    The Mikado [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    May 10, 1915 – Jun 19, 1915, Ko-Ko
    The Sorcerer [Revival, Musical, Comedy, Operetta]
    May 24, 1915 – Jun 5, 1915, John Wellington Wells
    The Pirates of Penzance [Revival, Musical, Operetta]
    Jun 7, 1915 – Jun 18, 1915, Major General Stanley
    Iolanthe [Revival, Musical, Comedy, Operetta]
    Jun 10, 1915 – Jun 17, 1915, The Lord Chancellor
    The Passing Show of 1917 [Original, Musical, Revue]
    Apr 26, 1917 – Oct 13, 1917, Performer
    Everything [Original, Musical, Revue, Spectacle]
    Aug 22, 1918 – May 17, 1919, Performer
    Erminie [Revival, Musical, Comedy, Opera]
    Jan 3, 1921 – Feb 26, 1921, Ravennes
    Snapshots of 1921 [Original, Musical, Revue]
    Jun 2, 1921 – Aug 6, 1921, Performer
    Some Party [Original, Musical, Revue]
    Apr 15, 1922 – Apr 29, 1922, Producer and Performer
    White Lilacs [Original, Musical, Operetta, Romance]
    Sep 10, 1928 – Jan 12, 1929, Dubusson
    Radio City Music Hall Inaugural Program [Original, Special]
    Dec 27, 1932 – Dec 27, 1932, Himself
    The Monster [Revival, Play, Drama]
    Feb 10, 1933 – Mar 1933, Dr. Gustave Ziska


  • Don Quixote (1915), Alonso Quijano / Don Quixote
  • Rough Knight (1916)
  • Mr. Goode, the Samaritan (1916), Alphonse Irving Goode
  • Sunshine Dad (1916), Alonzo Evergreen (extant; Library of Congress)
  • Casey at the Bat (1916), Casey
  • Stranded (1916), H. Ulysses Watts
  • Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916), extra (extant)
  • Puppets (1916), Pantaloon
  • Casey at the Bat (1922), Himself, reading the poem in experimental film made in Phonofilm sound-on-film process; premiered April 15, 1923 at the Rivoli Theater in NYC
  • At the Round Table (1930) (extant; Library of Congress)
  • The March of Time (1930), Himself, Old Timer Sequence in unfinished MGM movie
  • Ladies Not Allowed (1932)
  • References

    DeWolf Hopper Wikipedia