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Josephine Hull

Josephine Hull

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Also Known As: Josephine Sherwood Died: March 12, 1957
Born: January 3, 1884 Cause of Death: cerebral hemorrhage
Birth Place: Newtonville, Massachusetts, USA Profession: actor, director, chorus girl

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Although she boasted a 50-year career, Hull is best known for her later roles as plump, scatterbrained matrons. Born Josephine Sherwood to a well-to-do New England family, the hopeful actress attended Radcliffe and The New England Conservatory of Music before making her stage debut in stock in 1905. After some years as a chorus girl and touring stock player, she married actor Shelley Hull (younger brother of the more well-known actor Warren Hull) in 1910. When her husband died in 1919, the actress retired until 1923, when she returned under the name Josephine Hull.Hull had her first major stage success in George Kelly's Pulitzer-winning "Craig's Wife" in 1926. Kelly wrote a role especially for her in his next play "Daisy Mayme" which also was staged in 1926. She continued working in New York theater throughout the 1920s. In the 30s, Hull scored in three great Broadway hits, as a batty matriarch in "You Can't Take It With You" (1936), as an agreeably homicidal aunt in "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1941), and in "Harvey" (1944). The plays all had long runs, and took up ten years of Hull's career.Hull only made five films, beginning with two 1932 Fox features, "After Tomorrow" (recreating her stage role) and...

Although she boasted a 50-year career, Hull is best known for her later roles as plump, scatterbrained matrons. Born Josephine Sherwood to a well-to-do New England family, the hopeful actress attended Radcliffe and The New England Conservatory of Music before making her stage debut in stock in 1905. After some years as a chorus girl and touring stock player, she married actor Shelley Hull (younger brother of the more well-known actor Warren Hull) in 1910. When her husband died in 1919, the actress retired until 1923, when she returned under the name Josephine Hull.

Hull had her first major stage success in George Kelly's Pulitzer-winning "Craig's Wife" in 1926. Kelly wrote a role especially for her in his next play "Daisy Mayme" which also was staged in 1926. She continued working in New York theater throughout the 1920s. In the 30s, Hull scored in three great Broadway hits, as a batty matriarch in "You Can't Take It With You" (1936), as an agreeably homicidal aunt in "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1941), and in "Harvey" (1944). The plays all had long runs, and took up ten years of Hull's career.

Hull only made five films, beginning with two 1932 Fox features, "After Tomorrow" (recreating her stage role) and "The Careless Lady". She missed out on recreating her "You Can't Take It With You" role in 1938, as she was still onstage with the show (Spring Byington filled in onscreen). But Hull and Jean Adair did play the Brewster sisters in the 1944 film "Arsenic and Old Lace", and Hull was in the screen "Harvey" as well. It is for that role that she won her 1950 Oscar as Best Supporting Actress. "Variety" said that Hull, as "the slightly balmy aunt who wants to have Elwood committed, is immense, socking the comedy for every bit of its worth".

Hull made only one further film, the 1951 "The Lady from Texas", and appeared in the CBS-TV version of "Arsenic and Old Lace" in 1949 (with Ruth McDevitt as her sister). Moving to the Bronx, Hull had been retired for some years before her death in 1957.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Lady from Texas (1951) Miss Birdie Wheeler
2.
 Harvey (1950) Veta Louise Simmons
3.
 Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Abby Brewster
4.
 After Tomorrow (1932) Mrs. Piper
5.
 Careless Lady (1932) Aunt Cora
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Milestones close milestones

1905:
Made stage debut with Castle Square Stock Company in Boston, Massachusetts
1919:
Retired from acting after death of her husband, actor Shelley Hull
1923:
Returned to acting in NY stage production of "Roger Bloomer"
1926:
First major stage success in the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Craig's Wife"
1932:
Film debut, in "After Tomorrow"
1936:
Had major stage success with "You Can't Take It with You"
1949:
Only major TV appearance, "Arsenic and Old Lace" on CBS
1951:
Last film appearance, "The Lady From Texas"
:
Retired from acting in mid-1950s
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Education

Radcliffe College: Cambridge , Massachusetts -
New England Conservatory of Music: Boston , Massachusetts -

Notes

"She has a distinctive gift for comedy and the scatter-brained ladies she creates so brilliantly are the antithesis of the lady herself who has an even disposition and a well-balanced mind." --Daniel Blum in GREAT STARS OF THE AMERICAN THEATER, 1951

"Miss Hull is a vastly skillful trouper who knows what to do with a pause, an inflection, a glance, a jolting utterance--who can nearly always get more out of a line or scene than the author wrote into it." --critic Ward Morehouse, quoted in Current Biography, 1953.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Shelley Vaughan Hull. Actor. Married from 1910 until his death in 1919; older brother of actor Henry Hull (1890-1977).

Family close complete family listing

father:
William H Sherwood. Perfume importer.
mother:
Mary Elizabeth Sherwood. Board of education executive.

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