The son of legendary Broadway actor DeWolfe Hopper and movie actress Hedda Hopper, William Hopper made his film debut as an infant in one of his father's films. The popular consensus is that the younger Hopper was given his first talking-picture break because of his mother's reputation as the most feared of the Hollywood gossips. Not so: Hopper was signed to his first Warner Bros. contract in 1937, a year or so before Hedda had established herself as the queen of the dirt-dishers. At first billing himself as DeWolfe Hopper Jr., Hopper languished in bit parts and walk-ons for several years. He wasn't able to graduate to better roles until the 1950s, by which time he was calling himself William Hopper. After a largely undistinguished film career (notable exceptions to his usual humdrum assignments were his roles in 20 Million Miles to Earth  and The Bad Seed ) Hopper finally gained fame -- and on his own merits -- as private detective Paul Drake on the enormously popular Perry Mason television series, which began its eight-season run in 1957. In a bizarre coincidence, Perry Mason left the air in 1966, the same year that William Hopper's mother Hedda passed away.