21 October 1904
San Francisco, California,
United States of America
20 April 1990|
Los Angeles, California,
United States of America
Attractive, brunette American actress, usually an extra, in films of the 1920s and 1930s.|
Hope's parents were Josephine Schwartz (1881-1908) and Russell Harper (1877-1930), the latter a well-known journalist and newspaperman who survived the 1901 wreck of the "SS City of Rio de Janeiro"; both were natives of San Francisco, California. They married on 29 May 1902 in San Francisco, just two months after a prior engagement of Russell's to another girl had been thwarted by that girl's grandfather. Per a 1932 court case document, "Some months prior to the birth of the child [Hope], Russell Harper abandoned his wife and never thereafter lived with her. Hope Harper never saw her father, except on one occasion, and that was when she was six or seven years of age." Sadly, Josephine Schwartz Harper passed away on 31 May 1908 during or after an operation, when Hope was only three years old. Young Hope was raised by her maternal grandparents, Henry and Hannah Schwartz. On 20 June 1908, not even a full month after Josephine's death, Russell re-married to Marie Neef in New York City; he would further re-marry at least twice more over the next two decades.
During 1925-26, James Parrott was in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from his now ex-wife, the former Clara Miller. At least two newspaper articles reported that the now-former Mrs. Parrott accused her estranged husband of being overly friendly with one Hope Harper. James counter-accused Clara of being the same with one Ray Reece.
Russell Harper died on 4 October 1930 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Upon his death, he left his entire estate -- initially reported as $80,000, later as $65,000; either way, that's equivalent to over a million dollars in 2023 -- to his widow, Laura Dagmar Harper, whom he married in 1926. Russell's will, filed 13 December 1929, made no mention of a daughter, though its fourth paragraph stated that any child or children born to him thereafter, or any persons contesting the will, would be bequeathed a sum of five dollars. In the spring of 1931, Hope filed suit in Seattle, Washington in an attempt to claim her half of her estranged father's estate. The dispute would grow into a three-way battle, with another ex-wife of Russell's also entering the legal fray. Hope's case proved slightly complicated by the loss of her birth records in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, with "newspaper files and depositions of San Francisco residents" sufficing as proof.
On 22 June 1931, Judge D. H. Carey ruled in Hope's favor, feeling that she had sufficiently proved that she was Mr. Harper's daughter and heir, and was thus entitled to her rightful half of his estate. Laura Dagmar Harper appealed the court's decision, and unfortunately for Hope, it proved successful: in May 1932, the Supreme Court of Washington reversed the lower court's decision, citing the aforementioned fourth paragraph of the will to affirm that Hope had not been completely overlooked, and upholding Russell's right to dispose of his estate as he saw fit in the will. Further challenges to the appeal in October 1932 and January 1933 proved fruitless.
On 13 October 1935, Hope married Harold Purdy (1905-1984), a theatre treasurer, at the Amanda Chapel in Los Angeles. They remained together for over 48 years until Harold's passing on 7 June 1984. About six years later, on 20 April 1990, widowed homemaker Hope H. Purdy passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Her death certificate (excerpted in her funeral service record) says she was a homemaker for 26 years and gives an incorrect birth date of 2 January 1904, thus making her age (given as 86) a year older than it should be. Her death notice in the Los Angeles Times reads, "Donations may be made to the Alzheimers [sic] Foundation," suggesting that perhaps Hope suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Hope and Harold Purdy are buried in the Murmuring Trees section of Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles, California.
WARNING: Be careful when doing a Google search for "hope harper" or even "hope harper actress." Many of the results will pertain to another Hope Harper, a modern-day actress who specializes in a... different sort of filmmaking. (See also: Charley Chase.)
||Films listed on this page: complete Hal Roach filmography.|