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 thirteen 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 1958-1962. 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."

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[edit]

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 interment was in New York.

Select filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Divorces Robert Bell", The New York Times, July 9, 1930
  2. ^ Eva Le Gallienne bio
  3. ^ a b c Vallance, Tom (June 13, 1998). "Obituary: Josephine Hutchinson". The Independent. Retrieved February 27, 2017. 
  4. ^ Film Weekly website
  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
  10. ^ "Deaths" (PDF). Broadcasting. April 23, 1979. p. 71. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 

External links[edit]