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 Betty Hutton

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Betty Hutton

Actress, Singer. Remembered for her extreme energy on stage and screen, described as, "A brassy, energetic performer with a voice that could sound like a fire alarm." Born Elizabeth June Thornburg in Battle Creek, Michigan, to Percy and Mabel Thornburg, the family was abandoned by their father, and their mother worked a variety of jobs to support the family. At age thirteen, Betty was employed as a singer in a Michigan summer resort and then worked with a local band of high school students. By age fifteen, Betty saved enough money and traveled to New York City hoping for a break on Broadway. The trip was an unsuccessful and brief one. She was told she'd never make it in show business. She returned home, and with sister Marion gained employment in Detroit nightclub, where bandleader Vincent Lopez scouted and soon hired the teen to be a vocalist with his band. While touring with Lopez, Betty performed the under the name 'Betty Darling', while her sister toured with bandleader Glenn Miller using the surname Hutton; Betty soon took the name as well. In 1938, Betty toured with Vincent Lopez in New York City, while recording vocals for RCA Victor's Bluebird Records. She then made her screen debut in the Warner Bros. Vitaphone short, "Queens of the Air." She made more Vitaphone short subjects, and made her first Paramount Pictures appearance, in the short, "Three Kings and a Queen" (1939). Betty continued to tour with Lopez as well as singing on his NBC radio program. By 1940, Betty left Lopez's band for a part in the Broadway show, "Two For The Show." She acquired the comic lead in another Broadway production, Cole Porter's "Panama Hattie," her understudy was a chorus girl named June Allyson. Just prior to opening night, by orders of star Ethel Merman, Hutton's big musical number was cut. Betty was upset, but continued her run after the show's producer Buddy DeSylva promised to hire her for his Paramount film musical, "The Fleet's In" (1942). Her following film, "Star Spangled Rhythm" (1942) solidified her place as cinemas newest queen of comedy. She appeared in nineteen films in ten years, from 1942 to 1952, including, "The Perils Of Pauline" (1947), "Let's Dance" (1950), and "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950) for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), which hired Hutton to replace Judy Garland in the role of Annie Oakley. Due to contractual disagreements with Paramount Pictures, "The Greatest Show On Earth" (1952) and "Somebody Loves Me" (1952) were her final films with the studio. With the popularity of the newest mode of entertainment, television, Betty negotiated her own show through Desilu Studios. "The Betty Hutton Show" was televised on CBS for thirty episodes during the 1959-1960 season, and later cancelled. It's primary competition was "The Donna Reed Show" on NBC. She worked sporadically on television as well as night club performances in Las Vegas. Her private life in turmoil, her fourth and final marriage ended in 1967. Hutton had trouble with alcohol and substance abuse, even attempting suicide after losing her singing voice in 1970, and having a nervous breakdown. She turned her personal life around in the 1970s, with the help of a Rhode Island Roman Catholic priest, Father Peter Maguire. She went on to earn a college degree from Salve Regina, a Catholic college for women in Newport, Rhode Island. By the late 1980s she was teaching acting to students at Boston's Emerson College. After decades in the New England area, she moved to Palm Springs, California in 1999. She hoped to become closer to her two daughters whom she alienated herself from during her bouts of alcoholism. It was not to be. Her children remained distant. During her career she garnered numerous award nominations for her acting and singing performances. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, she has a 'Star' on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6253 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, California. Betty Hutton succumbed to colon cancer in Palm Springs, California.

Bio by: katzizkidz


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: A.J.
  • Added: 12 Mar 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 18371025
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Betty Hutton (26 Feb 1921–12 Mar 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 18371025, citing Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, Riverside County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .