Louella Parsons (August 6, 1881 – December 9, 1972) was the first American movie columnist. She was retained by William Randolph Hearst, possibly because she had praised Hearst's mistress Marion Davies, and her columns were read by 20 million people in 400 newspapers worldwide. She remained Queen of Hollywood until the arrival of flamboyant Hedda Hopper, who displayed similar talents, and with whom she feuded viciously for years.
She was born Louella Rose Oettinger in Freeport, Illinois, the daughter of Joshua Oettinger and Helen Stein, both of German Jewish descent. She had two brothers, Edwin and Fred, and a sister, Rae. In 1890, her widowed mother married John H. Edwards. They lived in Dixon, Illinois, later hometown of Ronald Reagan.In her teens, Louella was already a smart and intelligent young woman, but there were few literary outlets for her ambitions. It wasn't until high school that Louella decided to become a writer or a reporter. On June 4, 1901, at her high school graduation, Louella gave a foretelling speech, entitled “Great Men,” after which her principal announced that she would become a great writer.
After high school, Parsons enrolled in a teacher’s course at a local Dixon college. She received a financial contribution from a distant German relative. While still in college, Parsons obtained her first newspaper job as a part-time writer for the Dixon Star. In 1902, she became the first female journalist in Dixon, where she gossiped about Dixon social circles, making a step towards her Hollywood career. She and her first husband, John Parsons, moved to Burlington, Iowa. Her only child, Harriet (1906–1983), who grew up to become a film producer, was born there. While in Burlington, Parsons saw her first motion picture, The Great Train Robbery (1903). When her marriage broke up, Parsons moved to Chicago. In 1912, she had her first taste of the movie industry by selling a script for $25 to the Essanay Company,which would soon be employing Charlie Chaplin. Her small daughter, Harriet, was billed as "Baby Parsons" in several movies, which included The Magic Wand (1912), written by Louella Parsons. She also wrote a book titled How to Write for the Movies.
Beginning in 1928, she hosted a weekly radio program featuring movie star interviews that was sponsored by SunKist. A similar program in 1931 was sponsored by Charis Foundation Garment. In 1934, she signed a contract with the Campbell's Soup Company and began hosting a program titled Hollywood Hotel, which showcased stars in scenes from their upcoming movies.