Biography

One of the best remembered B-Western heroines of the 1930s, blonde Verna Hillie was Ken Maynard's leading lady in the Mascot serial Mystery Mountain (1934) and John Wayne's in two of his best for Lone Star, The Trail Beyond (1934) and the evocative The Star Packer (1934). A teenage radio actress in Detroit, Hillie was one of the runners-up in Paramount's countrywide Panther Woman search. Kathleen Burke won the coveted role as the animalistic glamour girl created by Charles Laughton in Island of Lost Souls (1932), but Hillie was assigned bit roles in Madame Butterfly (1932) with Sylvia Sidney and Duck Soup (1933) with the Marx Brothers. A top supporting role in the Paramount Western Under the Tonto Rim (1933) led to her brief but memorable B-Western stint, but she left Hollywood in favor of appearing in a stage production of The Night of January 16th. Returning only for a couple of quickies and Walt Disney's The Reluctant Dragon (1941), Hillie retired from show business in the 1940s to raise a family (her daughter, with writer Frank Gill Jr., became an actress and played a secretary in the hit 1983 comedy Tootsie under the name of Pamela Lincoln). Resettled in New York City, Hillie went on to become the U.S. representative for British pulp fiction writer Barbara Cartland. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi