Josephine Hutchinson

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Josephine Hutchinson
Josephine Hutchinson in Happiness Ahead trailer.jpg
Hutchinson in trailer for Happiness Ahead (1934)
Born (1903-10-12)October 12, 1903
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Died June 4, 1998(1998-06-04) (aged 94)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Years active 1917-1974
Spouse(s) Robert W. Bell (divorced 1930)
James F. Townsend (divorced)
Staats Cotsworth (1972-1979; his death)
Parent(s) Leona Roberts; Charles James Hutchinson

Josephine Hutchinson (October 12, 1903 - June 4, 1998) was an American actress.


She was born in Seattle, Washington. Her mother, Leona Roberts, was an actress best known for her role as Mrs. Meade in Gone with the Wind. Through her mother's connections, Hutchinson made her film debut at the age of 13 in The Little Princess, starring Mary Pickford. She later attended the Cornish School of Music and Drama in Seattle, and then moved to New York City, where she began acting in theater. By the late 1920s, she was one of the actors able to make the transition from silent movies to talkies.

Hutchinson married Robert W. Bell, a stage director, in 1924. In 1926, she met the actress Eva Le Gallienne, and became a member of Le Gallienne's Civic Repertory Theatre company. By 1927, the two women were involved in an affair and Hutchinson and Bell, who separated in 1928, were divorced in 1930.[1] The press quickly dubbed her Le Gallienne's "shadow:, a term which at the time meant lesbian.[2][3] Both actresses survived the scandal in those heady days and carried on with their respective careers.

Under contract with Warner Bros., Hutchinson went to Hollywood in 1934, debuting in Happiness Ahead. She was featured on the cover of Film Weekly on August 23, 1935[4] and appeared in The Story of Louis Pasteur in 1936.

At Universal, she played Elsa von Frankenstein in one of her most memorable roles alongside actor Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff in Son of Frankenstein (1939).[5][6] She later played "Mrs Townsend" in North by Northwest (1959)[7] and Love Is Better Than Ever, starring Elizabeth Taylor.[8]

On television, she made four guest appearances on Perry Mason between 1958 and 1962. In 1958, she played Leona Walsh in "The Case of the Screaming Woman". In 1959, she played Miriam Baker in "The Case of the Spanish Cross". In 1961, she played Miss Sarah McKay in "The Case of the Barefaced Witness"; and in 1962, she played Amelia Corning in "The Case of the Mystified Miner".

In The Rifleman episode "The Prodigal" in 1960, she played outlaw Billy St. John's mother, Christine.

Hutchinson continued to work steadily through the 1970s in film, radio, and television, establishing a solid career in supporting roles.[9] She appeared on, among other television programs, Rawhide in 1962, in the episode "Grandma's Money", The Twilight Zone, in the episode "I Sing the Body Electric", and Gunsmoke.[3]

Personal life

Hutchinson and Le Gallienne were intimately involved for a number of years. Although Hutchinson was married three times, Le Gallienne never married. Hutchinson married James F. Townsend in 1935; they later divorced. She married, lastly, actor Staats Cotsworth in 1972; he died in 1979.[3][10]


She died, aged 94, on June 4, 1998 at the Florence Nightingale Nursing Home in Manhattan.[5] Her ashes were scattered near her niece’s home at Springfield, Oregon.[11]

Select filmography


  1. ^ "Divorces Robert Bell", The New York Times, July 9, 1930
  2. ^ Eva Le Gallienne bio Archived 2011-05-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b c Vallance, Tom (June 13, 1998). "Obituary: Josephine Hutchinson". The Independent. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  4. ^ Film Weekly website Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Step Down to Terror
  6. ^ Basil Rathbone: Master of Stage and Screen website
  7. ^ Classic Film Guide
  8. ^ Stanley Donen bio
  9. ^ Nevada Smith Archived 2006-07-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Deaths" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 23, 1979. p. 71. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  11. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 22857). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

External links

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