May 5, 1914|
|Died||October 3, 1997
Verna Hillie (May 5, 1914 – October 3, 1997) was an American film actress. First recruited into movie acting by a contest, she went on to star in films for Paramount Pictures and other studios through the 1930s, before retiring from acting in the early 1940s.
Hillie began acting as a teenager in Detroit, Michigan, where she got a part in a radio drama on station WWJ. Against her wishes, her mother submitted her photo to a national competition for the role of the "Panther Woman" in Paramount's 1932 film Island of Lost Souls. When Paramount contacted her for a tryout, she reluctantly agreed, but eventually came to enjoy the process. She lost the competition to Kathleen Burke, but the studio gave her a contract anyway, starting her with a bit part in Madame Butterfly.
She became better known after her supporting role in Under the Tonto Rim in 1933. When Hillie contracted Bell's palsy, Paramount dropped her contract, but she soon recovered and began working for other studios. In 1934 she co-starred with Ken Maynard in Mystery Mountain, a Western serial film from Mascot Pictures. She then starred opposite John Wayne in the The Star Packer and The Trail Beyond for Monogram Pictures. She had some minor roles in movies for Universal Studios, such as I've Been Around in 1935, but the studio stopped using her after she spurned romantic advances from production executive Carl Laemmle, Jr. She also appeared in the Broadway production of Night of January 16th in 1935.
Hillie married radio emcee Frank Gill, Jr., in 1933. They had two children, but they divorced in 1935. Their split earned some notoriety because it happened around the same time as the divorce of Hillie's fellow Panther Woman contestant, Kathleen Burke. She retired from acting in the 1940s to focus on raising her children. In 1952 she married NBC executive Richard Linkroun. They divorced after 11 years.
After her divorce from Linkroun, Hillie worked in health care administration for several years. She was later the United States representative for English author Barbara Cartland. She died in 1997 in Fairfield, Connecticut from a stroke.
- Madame Butterfly (1932) (uncredited)
- From Hell to Heaven (1933)
- Under the Tonto Rim (1933)
- Man of the Forest (1933)
- Duck Soup (1933) (uncredited)
- Six of a Kind (1934) (uncredited)
- Search for Beauty (1934) (uncredited)
- House of Mystery (1934)
- The Star Packer (1934)
- Romance in the Rain (1934)
- The Trail Beyond (1934)
- Mystery Mountain (1934)
- I've Been Around (1934)
- Princess O'Hara (1935)
- Rescue Squad (1935)
- Mister Dynamite (1935)
- Rebellious Daughters (1938)
- The Reluctant Dragon (1941) (uncredited)
- Rainey, Buck (2005). Serial Film Stars: A Biographical Dictionary, 1912-1956. McFarland & Company. pp. 355–356. ISBN 978-0-7864-2010-0.
- Mank, Gregory William (2005). Women In Horror Films, 1930s. McFarland & Company. pp. 196–198. ISBN 978-0-7864-2334-7.
- "Verna Hillie - New York Times". The New York Times.