By Thomas F. Schwartz
As previous blog posts have demonstrated, Herbert and Lou Hoover enjoyed viewing Hollywood films. One of the most powerful individuals in Hollywood was not a studio head but the executive assistant to Louis B. Mayer of MGM, Ida Koverman. Ida began her career in the jewelry business and became an executive in the New York City offices of Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa. Here she had her early encounters with Herbert Hoover. Always active in Republican politics, she worked as executive secretary for the presidential campaigns of Calvin Coolidge in 1924 and Herbert Hoover in 1928. Koverman had a steady correspondence with Hoover sometimes asking for favors for Hollywood stars and other times using him to advance certain Republican candidates. The following letter to Hoover’s personal assistant, Bernice “Bunny” Miller, reflects her efforts in the spring of 1952 to influence famed Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hooper to support Robert A. Taft. Koverman writes:
“My friend, Hedda Hopper, has been stopping at your hotel for some time and will be there until the end of the month. She is now in Washington for a few days but will return to New York for the Publishers’ Convention.
I’m very anxious for the Chief to have a chat with her. She is one of our loyal working Republicans and is very anti-Eisenhower. She likes MacArthur but I think if the Chief talked to her, he might influence her regarding Taft. She doesn’t dislike Taft but prefers MacArthur. So won’t you see if you can arrange for them to get together?”
In the margin, Hoover wrote in pencil “Yes lunch.” Jockeying for the presidential nomination were two generals and one Senator. Dwight David Eisenhower, who would be selected by the Republican Party in 1952 and eventually win the Presidential election, led the Allied nations to victory in World War II. Douglas MacArthur, also a decorated general who led American forces in Asia during World War II was equally famous. Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio was the eldest son of former President William Howard Taft but not nearly the name recognition and popular following as the two generals. Hoover preferred Taft whose conservative principals were well known whereas military officers typically followed a tradition of not voting or voicing their political preferences in public, stressing loyalty and service to whomever was President as their Commander in Chief.