Joan Robinson began riding horses at the age of 3, and eventually won over 500 trophies for her riding skills. She was a young and sought after socialite of the 50s and 60s, with her picture in the Houston newspapers almost weakly. She had her favorite mare named Belinda that she rode into the equestrian center with ease and grace as they were announced "America's Beautiful Pair" and were applauded from the Kentucky Derby to Madison Square Garden. Joan Robinson was a society celebrity. Joan was the only child of Ash and Rhea Robinson. Ash was a Texas oil self made millionaire, Joan had been spoiled with all the luxuries that money could buy. Nothing was too good for Ash's little princess.
When Joan met John Hill, a struggling medical student, she was moved by his work ethic and desire to get ahead. The two were married in a lavish ceremony that presented Joan, the beautiful oil heiress marrying the young and upcoming plastic surgeon.
Unfortunately, the couple's union was not to be a happy one. They had one son, John Jr, and the strain of John Sr's medical school demands combined with then eventual starting up of his own practice were difficult for Joan, who wanted to spend more time with her husband. Her father, Ash Robinson, did all he could to make things as smooth as possible for his daughter and her struggling husband. He provided for the couple 100%, and there was nothing that was to be denied John Hill as he continued with his medical studies.
John was fortunate to marry into such wealth and not have to struggle or drop out of school temporarily as got caught up, as his classmates did. John lived in a luxurious home with his beautiful wife and all the servants he could want. But, John was moody and felt constricted by his father-in-laws power. He even resented Ash for being there for Joan and himself.
John was an alfa male and wanted to be shed of Ash and all the snide looks and comments about how Ash was able to take care of everything. Of course there were some rumors that John was a gold digger and married Joan in order to further his career, but at the time of their marriage John did not care. After several years of marriage and the birth of their son, it started to matter more. John Hill began to come into his own and he decided that he liked feminine women, unlike his wife Joan. He wanted to feel like the powerhouse.
Joan had hobbies and interests, such as her horses. These things awed John when he met Joan and much as the character Montgomery Clift played in A Place in The Sun, John was seeing how the other half lived, and Joan had that level of glamor and sophistication wrapped around her finger. As John began to sink into his wealthy lifestyle and gain some status of his own, he became critical of Joan and her friends. John wanted a quiet woman who did not always smell of horses. He wanted a glamorous creature he could affix on his arm when going out, and impress his colleagues. Instead he had a woman with a strong will who was still a semi celebrity to the Houston upper crust, and confident to the point of being outspoken. She was the life of the party and even had a group of women she played cards with on a weekly basis. The couple were soon regarded as a mismatch.
Her image was clashing with what he wanted his new image to be, and John began to spend his free time pursuing his hobby, music.
In 1965 John sent his son to an expensive camp, Camp Rio Vista, and when the day to pick up their son came John and Joan enjoyed a get together with the other kids and parents of the camp. One of the mothers was Ann Kurth. She was wearing a right T-shirt and hip huggers that showed her equipment rather well. She was extremely provocatively attired according to another doctor who was there to pick up his son. Apparently, the divorced mother of three was on the make. She played with some of the children who were swinging on a rope over the lake and of course fell in the water, coming out with a see through blouse and her hip huggers looking even more provocative. She was soon quietly referred to as the camp sex bomb.
Ann Kurth was close to her 40th birthday when she first med John but she was still as beautiful as she had been two decades earlier when she was the campus beauty at Southern Methodist University and her full time hobby had been looking beautiful. She had cases of creams, powders, oils an dyes that turned her already beautiful package into movie star quality. Many thought she was as beautiful as Elizabeth Taylor. Raven black hair teased to infinity and heavily painted eyes accented by purple blue pools of color, and an innocent Marilyn Monroe voice. A button or two calculatedly undone to call attention to her full bosom. She also had strong social connections, being the daughter of a highly successful architect, and having been educated in private schools. Ann Kurth moved in the country club circles, had been married three times before and just happened to be unattached for the very first time in her life when she met John Hill.
Dr. John Hill introduced himself to Ann at camp Rio Vista and the two began talking about their lives. Ann quickly picked up on the fact that John was not pleased with his wife's interest in horses. Although Ann would later tell the story of their meeting differently than John would, making herself the pursued instead of the pursuee, the accounts of the other parents add up to Ann being the one who made the moves. While the kids were putting on a show Ann looked around and noticed John Hill again. He was now engaged in conversation with an attractive blond woman. Ann now recognized who John was. That was Joan Robinson! Ann had attended Stephens College just before Joan had, and they had many of the same friends. Suddenly her predatory instincts were kicking in. John Hill was the prince charming of the girl wonder! Winning John meant more than financial stability, it would mean that she is better than Joan.
When John was later out in a canoe by himself, Ann took her children out on one too. Ann and John began to flirt harmlessly, with John falling into the water gallantly as they all laughed. Later on that evening Ann said that she had been standing next to Joan Robinson Hill by chance, who smiled and said that she could not find her husband.
Somehow John and Ann had already developed a relationship that would unfold into a steamy affair in the next couple of weeks, months and then years.
Dr. Hill and Ann Kurth
Ann was an aggressive woman who knew how to reel a guy in. Years after their marriage and eventual divorce she wrote a book about her time with John titled "Prescription Murder", it was a best seller that perhaps contained a few facts, but also contained some self serving propaganda.
Even by accounts of her children, Ann was jealous and out to destroy what was left between Joan and John. She put pressure on John to leave his wife, and knew how to get the not very impulsive surgeon to take some drastic steps. Ann spent a lot of their time talking about Joan and was soon desperately jealous not only of Joan's marriage to the man she loved but of her higher social status. She put just enough pressure on John to get him to write a hasty letter to his wife stating that things were not good between them and that a divorce should soon be underway. John added, "I've gone away for a while to find myself."
John was not really finding himself but was actually trying not to lose Ann who was threatening to get married to another man.
When Ash found out he boiled with anger. After all he had done for John, he was treating his beautiful daughter with such disrespect. Ash decided that a private detective was in order. Ash discovered John's secret life and John continued to be cold towards Joan because of his fear that Ann would blow up.
Joan Robinson Hill's Torment
Joan discovered that John was having an affair and embarked on a self-improvement program to keep her husband. She made an attempt to quit smoking and started to exercise regularly. She was soon a lovely 110lbs. Joan associated with highly elegant women in effort to glamorize herself and get some beauty tips. Her friend Ann More, confided to Joan that she had heard John say "there's not one feminine thing about my wife" and suggested that Joan change her image.
With pressure from Ash and Ann Kurth ,John withdrew his divorce statements and began to make things look as normal as possible. Ann Kurth felt defeated but did not give up. She continued to press John to make a decision and get rid of Joan once and for all. John continued to see Ann and was questioned, "is it me or her?" on a regular basis. She said, "I am going to live my life and go out with other men", she left flowers and notes around the home that were meant to appear to be from other men. She also had a few names she dropped casually to let John know that she could pick up and marry one of them at any time if he did not make up his mind soon. Ann was not a child and was a thrice married woman, she knew how to get what she wanted and would not stand to be a kept woman for years on end.
Joan Hill Robinson & Ash Robinson
With the pressure from Ann and the annoying pressure of Ash and Joan on his back, John began to go through wtih the divorce in 1969. Joan became suddenly ill one evening and was rushed to the hospital hours later. She was weak and upset, but still strong enough to talk. Ash comforted his daughter in the hospital and John made very sporatic and brief visits. Joan suddenly died of mysterious circumstances.
No autopsy was performed and Ash Robinson began accusing his son-in-law of murder. After months of legal and media accusations Joan Robinson's body was exhumed and nothing indicating any kind of foul play was found. Decades later doctors have speculated that Joan suffered from toxic shock syndrome. In the late 60s TSS was virtually unknown.
John Hill was set for trials and eventual acquittals, but Ash never forgave John for hurting his daughter and would always blame him for his daughter's death.
Ann Kurth Writes Prescription Murder
The stress of Joan's death and Ash Robinson's continual threats took a toll on Ann and John. Althouth they married they were soon divorced and in her vengeful anger, Ann decided to cash in on her affair with John Hill by writing a book called, "Prescription Murder" . In this book Ann tells numerous tall tales of how John pursued her, and painted herself as a blameless character in the love triangle. She even stated that John was accused by friends and family of trying to rise to a higher status by marrying her. The only person who rose financially or socially was Ann Kurth in that marriage.
She was somehow trying, again, to put herself in the same class as Joan Robinson Hill.
Either way her book was entertaining and became a runaway bestseller, and was to be the only book about the Strange Case of Dr. John Hill until Blood and Money was released. Blood and Money was a respectable account of the facts surrounding Dr. John Hill and Joan Robinson Hill.
A Murder in Texas
In 1981 a movie was made based on Ann Kurth's book, Prescription Murder, it was called. A Murder in Texas and starred Farrah Fawcett as Joan Robinson.
This story has been told as Prescription Murder, A Murder in Texas and most accurately, Blood and Money. The home on Kirby drive is still a sight seeing point for those going through Houston.
The Final Saga of Dr. John Hill
John Hill quickly remarried after divorcing Ann Kurth. Some believe that John began an affair much in the same way that he had met Ann, either way, Ann Kurth was not a happy camper and John Hill had moved on. He was finally putting the heavy drama of his life behind him, and his highly religious mother Myra was pleased with his new bride. She had despised Ann and questioned her sons motives as to why he ever hooked up with that self centered tramp, John Hill replied that he was physically attracted to her, and that was about it.
John Hill's new found contentment was to be short lived. In 1972, just three years after the death of his wife, Joan, John Hill was murdered by a hit man in his own home, right in front of his wife, son and mother.
The scene was made to appear to be an attempted burglary in progress when John and his family arrived home from an evening out.
Just about everyone who knew Ash Robinson believed that Ash was responsible. He had often made threats about getting even and the whole scene with the lives of his mother, son, and wife being spared, looked pretty fishy.
John Hill on Trial, and Shortly Beofore His Murder
Ash Robinson was sued by Myra Hill, John Hill's mother for the wrongful death of her son. Myra and Connie, John Hill's third wife, took after Ash with vengence in 1977, but the final decision was that Ash was not responsible. Ash Robinson died in 1985, and was embittered by the loss of his daughter.
Do You Think Dr. Hill Killed Joan Robinson Hill?
Many beople believe he is responsible but there is not hard evidence.
When the body was examined after burial there was no evidence of foul play, yet Ann Kurth wrote a book stating that John Hill told her he had killed his wife and then tried to kill her.
Suzie from Carson City on March 08, 2018:
This is quite the fascinating & intriguing take of love,wealth, adultery & betrayal! It would take me a while to try to come to any suspicions, much less accusations. All characters have much to be desired! Money, greed, envy and indiscretions...all ingredients for a good mystery!
mactavers on July 06, 2016:
This story would make a great movie. It would be helpful for readers to have a date or time frame at the beginning of your Hub.