Hollywood’s Most Notorious Best Friend

September 1, 2023 | Samantha Henman

Hollywood’s Most Notorious Best Friend

Verna Hull was a prominent socialite, heiress, and friend to both royalty and Old Hollywood stars alike in the early 20th century. Yet, despite her notoriety, she remains a mysterious figure, with little to no information about her or photos of her existing on the internet. 

Hull’s father was a Hollywood psychiatrist whose clientele included Greta Garbo. After her parents divorced, he married an heiress to the Sears Roebuck fortune—yet Hull had no trouble making powerful friends of her own. 

During WWII, Verna Hull aided in the war effort by helping make planes. When the war ended, she turned her attention to art and photography. Somewhere along the way—likely during one of her many visits to Barbados—Hull became friends with Princess Margaret. A photograph and a letter from the princess to Hull were sold at auction in 2022. 

From Friend To Enemy

However, Hull’s most notable friendship was with movie star Claudette Colbert. The two were best friends for a decade and had neighboring homes in Manhattan and Bardados. There were even rumors that they were lovers. However, things turned sour in 1968. 

That year, as Colbert’s husband Joel Pressman lay dying from liver cancer, she received a letter from her friend Verna Hull. Hull claimed that Pressman didn’t want to die alone and that he was going to try and shoot Colbert in his final moments. 

Colbert had expected her friend to be there for her during that awful time—and she was furious at the accusation. She immediately marched over to Hull’s property, told her staff that she never wanted to see her again, and sent back every gift Hull had given her. 

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