Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957

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Marie Josephine Hull (née Sherwood; January 3, 1877 – March 12, 1957) was an American stage and film actress who also was a director of plays. She had a successful 50-year career on stage while taking some of her better known roles to film. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the movie Harvey (1950), a role she originally played on the Broadway stage. She was sometimes credited as Josephine Sherwood.

Hull was born January 3, 1877, in Newtonville, Massachusetts, one of four children born to William H. Sherwood and Mary Elizabeth ("Minnie") Tewkesbury, but would later shave years off her true age. She attended the New England Conservatory of Music and Radcliffe College, both in the Boston area.

Hull made her stage debut in stock in 1905, and after some years as a chorus girl and touring stock player, she married actor Shelley Hull (the elder brother of actor Henry Hull) in 1910. After her husband's death as a young man, the actress retired until 1923, when she returned to acting using her married name, Josephine Hull. The couple had no children. She 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 1930s and 1940s, Hull appeared in three Broadway hits, as a batty matriarch in You Can't Take It with You (1936), as a homicidal old lady 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. Her last Broadway play, The Solid Gold Cadillac (1954–55), was later made into a film version with the much younger Judy Holliday in the role.

Hull made only six films, beginning in 1927 with a small part in the Clara Bow feature Get Your Man, followed by The Bishop's Candlesticks in 1929. That was followed by 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 in the file version, as she was still onstage with the show. Instead, Spring Byington appeared in the film version. Hull played Aunt Abby who, along with Jean Adair as Aunt Martha, was one of the two Brewster sisters in the film version of Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) starring Cary Grant and Priscilla Lane. Hull then appeared in the screen version of Harvey (1950), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Variety credited Hull's performance: "the slightly balmy aunt, (actually Playing “Elwood's” Sister, “Veta”) who wants to have Elwood committed, is immense, socking the comedy for every bit of its worth".

After Harvey, Hull made only one more film, The Lady from Texas (1951); she had also appeared in the CBS-TV version of Arsenic and Old Lace in 1949, with Ruth McDevitt, an actress who often succeeded Hull in her Broadway roles, as her sister. Josephine Hull died on March 12, 1957, aged 80, from a cerebral hemorrhage.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Crawford, Jack Randall, b. 1878. Crawford Theater collection, 1663-1992 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Whitehouse, Doris Bramson, 1886-1972. Doris Bramson Whitehouse papers, circa 1884-1969 Houghton Library
referencedIn Flagg, Mildred Buchanan, 1886-1980. Papers, 1876-1955 (inclusive), 1900-1955 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Goertz, Arthémise. "Studio one" presents "Give us our dream" / by Arthemise Goertz. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
referencedIn Church, Blanche Bonnelle, 1882-1969. Papers, 1899-1905 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Spewack, Samuel and Bella. Papers, ca.1920-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Morehouse, Ward, 1898-1966. Ward Morehouse papers, 1877-1966 bulk (1924-1966). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Crawford Theater collection, 1663-1992 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Papers of Josephine Hull, 1950-1957 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Radcliffe College songs 1907-1979 (inclusive). Radcliffe College, Archives
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Papers, 1871-1957 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Letters of Josephine Hull, 1958-1959 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Radcliffe College. Class of 1905. Scrapbook, 1899-1902 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Kennedy, Grace Forbes. Papers of Grace Forbes Kennedy, 1895-1899 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Papers of Josephine Hull, 1897-1948 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Daniels, Mabel W. (Mabel Wheeler), 1878-1971. Papers, 1884-1971 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Letters of Josephine Hull, 1941-1949 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Samuel and Bella Spewack Papers, ca.1920-1980 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Class collections, 1890-1989 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Papers, 1898-1954 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Comstock, Ada Louise. Papers, 1818-1982 (inclusive), 1887-1982 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Radcliffe College. Alumnae Association. Class collections, 1890-1985 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Papers, 1899-1960 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Fred C. Kelly Papers, 1867-1966 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Papers, 1884-1971 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Ward Morehouse papers, 1877-1966, 1924-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library
referencedIn Frederick Wagner autograph collection, 1917-1961. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Hull, Josephine, 1877-1957. Papers, 1895-1947 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dellafield, Henry. Radcliffe College composers' scores collection, 1890-1949 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbott, George, 1887-1995. person
associatedWith Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907. person
associatedWith American Theatre Wing. corporateBody
associatedWith Bondi, Beulah, 1892-1981. person
associatedWith Boody, Bertha. person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
associatedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969. person
associatedWith Cannon, Cornelia James, b. 1876. person
associatedWith Carson, William G. B. (William Glasgow Bruce), 1891-1976. person
associatedWith Church, Blanche Bonnelle, 1882-1969. person
associatedWith Comstock, Ada Louise. person
associatedWith Crawford, Jack Randall, 1878-1968 person
associatedWith Crawford, Jack Randall, b. 1878. person
associatedWith Crouse, Russel, 1893-1966. person
associatedWith Daniels, Mabel W. (Mabel Wheeler), 1878-1971. person
associatedWith Dix, Beulah Marie, 1876-1970. person
associatedWith Dowling, Eddie, 1894-1976. person
associatedWith Flagg, Mildred Buchanan, 1886-1980. person
associatedWith Hart, Moss, 1904-1961. person
associatedWith Hull, Henry, 1890-1977. person
associatedWith Hull, Shelley, 1885-1919. person
associatedWith Karloff, Boris, 1887-1969. person
associatedWith Kaufman, George S. (George Simon), 1889-1961. person
associatedWith Kelly, Fred C. (Fred Charters), 1882-1959 person
associatedWith Kennedy, Grace Forbes. person
associatedWith King, John C. person
associatedWith Lindsay, Howard, 1889-1968. person
associatedWith Lockhart, June, 1925- person
associatedWith Lord, Elinor Carter. person
associatedWith Loring, Ruth D., 1868- person
associatedWith Lunt, Alfred. person
associatedWith Mabel Wheeler Daniels person
associatedWith Massey, Raymond. person
associatedWith Mielziner, Jo, 1901-1976. person
associatedWith Morehouse, Ward, 1898-1966. person
associatedWith Nugent, Elliott, 1896-1980. person
associatedWith O'Reilly, Jane Elliot Sever. person
associatedWith O'Reilly, Jane Sever. person
associatedWith Porritt, Ruth K. person
associatedWith Radcliffe College corporateBody
associatedWith Radcliffe College. Alumnae Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Radcliffe College. Class of 1905. corporateBody
associatedWith Rowan, Frank. person
associatedWith Sherwood, Mary Tewksbury. person
associatedWith Skinner, Cornelia Otis, 1901-1979. person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel, 1899-1971 person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel and Bella. person
associatedWith Stage Women's War Relief. corporateBody
associatedWith Teichmann, Howard. person
correspondedWith Wagner, Frederick, collector. person
correspondedWith Whitehouse, Doris Bramson, 1886-1972 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Boston MA US
New York City NY US
Cambridge MA US
Subject
Weddings
Women in war
World War, 1914-1918--Women
Theater
Television broadcasting
World War, 1939-1945--Women
Motion picture actors and actresses
Actresses
Occupation
Musicians
Actresses
Composers
Activity

Person

Birth 1877-01-03

Death 1957-03-12

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 85518013