Partner Claudette Colbert

Queer Places:
Hull House, Bellerive, Speightstown, Barbados

Verna Herbst Hull (March 1, 1916 – November 13, 2002) was born in Pasadena, California on March 1, 1916. Her father, Vernon Herbst was a well-known psychiatrist (Greta Garbo was one of his patients). In her early childhood, her mother divorced her father who remarried, and she became a stepdaughter to a Sears Roebuck heiress.

Verna earned a degree in Psychology from the University of California in Los Angeles. After graduating, she took two years of post-graduate studies in photography. During WWII she worked in the Douglas aircraft plants making planes. After the war she launched her photography career. She left for Santa Fe on a photography expedition and took her photography samples to New York.

Despite both her marriages being seemingly legitimate and loving, rumors of Claudette Colbert’s affairs with other actresses such as Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, and Marlene Dietrich followed her for her entire career. Most notably, Claudette had a very public intimate relationship with the out lesbian artist Verna Hull in the 1950s. Although Claudette denied the rumors that she was bisexual or a lesbian, she and Verna rented a home together in New York City and even had neighboring vacation homes in Barbados. The relationship ended abruptly and on bad terms in the early 1960s after the death of Claudette’s husband.

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