Louella Parsons was the first of the Hollywood gossip queens.
Parsons, who was described by one of her biographers as "more starstruck than any of her readers," held an undisputed position of power in the motion picture industry for 40 years.
She opened the doors on the private lives of movie people, reporting their scandals, romances, feuds and break-ups. Until her emergence on the Hollywood scene, news stories about the stars were generally confined to studio press releases.
She was both loved and feared, courted and scorned by those she wrote about, depending on whether they were in or out of favor. Many of them called her before making a step in their careers or personal lives.
Born Louella Rose Oettinger in Freeport, Ill., Parsons was still in high school when she obtained her first newspaper job as drama editor of the Dixon Morning Star.
Her reign as gossip columnist didn't last for long. In the late 1930s, Hedda Hopper, who had fed Parsons news tidbits while pursuing her own career as an actress, entered the world of gossip. Their feud was legendary.