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National Gossip Day

National Gossip Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the birth of gossip columnist Louella Parsons. While not much is known of the day—such as how it got its start or who started it—it can be used as a day to celebrate Parsons and gossip columnists in general and to do a little gossiping of one's own.

Louella Parsons was born on August 6, 1881. She not only was a newspaper columnist but is regarded as being the first movie columnist in the United States. For a time she also was the most well-known and read movie columnist. Her brand of reporting was considered to be that of a gossip columnist. Gossip columnists write in newspapers or magazines—in print or online—about the personal lives or conduct of celebrities. These can be show business stars, sports figures, politicians, and other public figures or wealthy people.

Gossip columnists write informally, injecting their opinions into their work. They mix facts that may deal with marriages, pregnancies, divorces, and arrests, with more speculative gossip and rumors about relationships, affairs, and personal problems. There is a fine line between what is considered to be acceptable speculation and what is considered to be defamation. Most newspapers and magazines require a source so they are less open to libel suits. But, for a celebrity to sue, they must prove that a publication printed something with malicious intent or with the knowledge that it is incorrect and inflammatory.

Parsons' first movie column—the first of its kind in the country—debuted in the Chicago Record-Herald in 1914. When William Randolph Hearst bought the newspaper in 1918, he shut the column down. Parsons moved to New York City and started a new movie column in the New York Morning Telegraph, but after Hearst came around to her work, she joined one of his newspapers, New York American, in 1922. After a bout with tuberculosis that almost claimed her life, Parsons became the syndicated Hollywood columnist for Hearst's publications. At her height, she was being published in over 400 newspapers and had a readership of 20 million people.

Parsons retained her popularity despite sometimes being inaccurate or spiteful. She also contended with a rival, Hedda Hopper, who started her column in 1938. Parsons lost her prominence following World War II but continued her column until 1965 when her assistant took it over. Parsons died on December 9, 1972. Following the era of Parsons and Hopper, the popularity of gossip columnists waned, but there was a resurgence in the 1980s. Today, on National Gossip Day, we celebrate Louella Parsons and other gossip columnists and do a little bit of our own gossiping.

How to Observe National Gossip Day

Some ideas on how you could spend the day include:

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