Robert E. Hopkins arrived in Hollywood in the mid-1920s as a leather goods salesman. Quickly deducing that the motion picture industry was a more lucrative racket, Hopkins or "Hoppy," as he was known to one and all wangled a job as a title-writer at MGM in 1928. Surviving the talkie revolution with the greatest of ease, he scripted several of MGM's medium-budget features, including a handful of the studio's Buster Keaton and Marie Dressler/Polly Moran vehicles. His true genius, however, lay not in writing stories but in thinking them up. As MGM's top "idea man," Hopkins seldom wrote a line of dialogue; instead, in the words of his old colleague Joseph L. Mankiewicz, "he sparked other people." His inspiration won Hopkins an Academy Award nomination when San Francisco made it to the scene in 1936.