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Betty Hutton

betty hutton, betty hutton actress biography
Betty Hutton born Elizabeth June Thornburg; February 26, 1921 – March 12, 20071 was an American stage, film, and television actress, comedian, dancer, and singer


  • 1 Early life and education
  • 2 Career
  • 3 The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
  • 4 Television and post-film career
  • 5 Marriages and children
  • 6 Life after Hollywood
  • 7 Legacy
  • 8 Hit songs
  • 9 Filmography
    • 91 Box-office ranking
  • 10 Stage work
  • 11 Radio appearances
  • 12 Awards and nominations
  • 13 Pop culture
  • 14 References
  • 15 Further reading
  • 16 External links

Early life and educationedit

Hutton was born Elizabeth June Thornburg in Battle Creek, Michigan She was the daughter of a railroad foreman, Percy E Thornburg 1896–19372 and his wife, Mabel Lum 1901–19673 While she was very young, her father abandoned the family for another woman They did not hear of him again until they received a telegram in 1937, informing them of his suicide Along with her older sister Marion, Betty was raised by her alcoholic mother, who took the surname Hutton and was later billed as the actress Sissy Jones

The three started singing in the family's speakeasy when Betty was 3 years old Troubles with the police kept the family on the move They eventually landed in Detroit, where she attended Foch Intermediate School4

On one occasion, when Betty, preceded by a police escort, arrived at the premiere of Let's Dance 1950, her mother, arriving with her, quipped, "At least this time the police are in front of us!" Hutton sang in several local bands as a teenager, and at one point visited New York City hoping to perform on Broadway, where she was rejected

A few years later, she was scouted by orchestra leader Vincent Lopez, who gave Hutton her entry into the entertainment business In 1939, she appeared in several musical shorts for Warner Bros, and appeared in a supporting role on Broadway in Panama Hattie5 starring Ethel Merman, who demanded on opening night that Hutton's musical numbers be cut from the show and Two for the Show,6 both produced by Buddy DeSylva


When DeSylva became a producer at Paramount Pictures, Hutton was signed to a featured role in The Fleet's In 1942, starring Paramount's number-one female star Dorothy Lamour Hutton was an instant hit with the movie-going public Paramount did not immediately promote her to major stardom, however, but did give her second leads in a Mary Martin film musical, Star Spangled Rhythm 1943, and another Lamour film In 1943, she was given co-star billing with Bob Hope in Let's Face It During that year, she made $1250 per week 7

The Miracle of Morgan's Creekedit

In 1942, writer-director Preston Sturges cast Betty as the dopey but endearing small-town girl who gives local troops a happy send-off and wakes up married and pregnant, but with no memory of who her husband is, except that a few "z's" were in his name This film, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, was delayed by Hays Office objections and Sturges' prolific output and was finally released early in 1944 The film made Hutton a major star; Preston Sturges was nominated for a Best Writing Oscar, the film was named on the National Film Board's Top Ten films for the year, the National Board of Review nominated the film for Best Picture of 1944, and awarded Betty Hutton the award for Best Acting for her performance in the film The New York Times named it as one of the 10 Best Films of 1942-1944

Critic James Agee noted that "the Hays office must have been raped in its sleep" to allow the film to be released And although the Hays Office received many letters of protest because of the film's subject matter, it was Paramount's highest-grossing film of 1944, playing to standing-room-only audiences in some theatres On the strength of its success, she signed a recording contract with the newly formed Capitol Records she was one of the earliest artists to do so Buddy DeSylva, one of Capitol's founders, also co-produced her next hit, the musical Incendiary Blonde, directed by veteran comedy director George Marshall and released in 1945, by which time Hutton had replaced Lamour as Paramount's top female box-office attraction Marshall also directed Hutton in the hugely popular The Perils of Pauline in 1947, where she sang a Frank Loesser song that was nominated for an Oscar: "I Wish I Didn't Love You So"

Hutton in 1952

She was billed above Fred Astaire in the 1950 musical Let's Dance Her next screen triumph came in Annie Get Your Gun 1950 for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which hired her to replace an exhausted Judy Garland in the role of Annie Oakley The film, with the leading role retooled for Hutton, was a smash hit, with the biggest critical praise going to Hutton Among her lesser-known roles were an unbilled cameo in Sailor Beware 1952 with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, in which she portrayed Dean's girlfriend, Hetty Button

Altogether, Hutton made 19 films from 1942 to 1952 Her career as a Hollywood star ended due to a contract dispute with Paramount following the Oscar-winning The Greatest Show on Earth 1952 and Somebody Loves Me 1952, a biography of singer Blossom Seeley The New York Times reported that the dispute resulted from her insistence that her husband at the time, choreographer Charles O'Curran, direct her next film This is not as outrageous as it now sounds, since many famous female stars, from Greta Garbo to Alexander Korda's first wife, silent movie star María Corda, often demanded directing gigs for their unknown husbands as the price of their next film

However, beset by the erosion of their audience to television, the dismemberment of their theater chains and the rise of McCarthyism, the studio declined, and Hutton broke her contract Hutton's last completed film was a small one, Spring Reunion, released in 1957, a drama in which she gave an understated, sensitive performance Unfortunately, box-office receipts indicated the public did not want to see a subdued Hutton She also became disillusioned with Capitol's management and moved to RCA Victor

Hutton in the trailer for
Annie Get Your Gun 1950

Television and post-film careeredit

Hutton got work in radio, appeared in Las Vegas and in nightclubs, then tried her luck in the new medium of television In 1954, TV producer Max Liebman, of comedian Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows, fashioned his first "Color Spectacular" as an original musical written especially for Hutton, Satins and Spurs8 It was a flop with the public and critics, probably because Hutton had an outsized personality that didn't work well on "the small screen" Its viewers also probably expected to see color on their black and white sets, and when they did not, switched to something else

In 1957, she appeared on a Dinah Shore show on NBC that also featured Boris Karloff; the program has been preserved on a kinescope Lucille Ball another female star who had clearly pushed her husband to a lucrative career and Desi Arnaz took a chance on Hutton in 1959, with their company Desilu Productions giving her a CBS sitcom, The Betty Hutton Show Hutton hired the still-blacklisted and future film composer Jerry Fielding to direct her series9 They had met over the years in Las Vegas when he was blacklisted from TV and radio and could get no other work, and her Hollywood career was also fading It was Fielding's first network job since losing his post as musical director of Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life in 1953 after hostile questioning by HUAC The Betty Hutton Show faded quickly

She guest-starred in the 1965 Gunsmoke episode "Bad Lady from Brookline" Her character takes a job singing in a saloon, while developing her shooting skills sufficiently to kill Matt Dillon for murdering her husband The impression is that the show was written specifically to showcase Hutton's talents

Hutton continued headlining in Las Vegas and touring across the country She returned to Broadway briefly in 1964 when she temporarily replaced a hospitalized Carol Burnett in the show Fade Out – Fade In10 In 1967, she was signed to star in two low-budget Westerns for Paramount, but was fired shortly after the projects began In 1980, she took over the role of Miss Hannigan during the original Broadway production of Annie while Alice Ghostley was on vacation Ghostley replaced the original Miss Hannigan actress, Dorothy Loudon who won a Tony Award for the role

Marriages and childrenedit

Hutton's first marriage was to camera manufacturer Ted Briskin on September 3, 1945 The marriage ended in divorce in 1950 Two daughters were born to the couple:

  • Lindsay Diane Briskin, born in Barcelona, Spain on March 1, 1946
  • Candice Elizabeth Briskin, born in Havana, Cuba on December 3, 1947

Hutton's second marriage in 1952 was to choreographer Charles O'Curran They divorced in 1955 He died in 1984

She married for the third time in 1955 Husband Alan W Livingston, an executive with Capitol Records, was the creator of Bozo the Clown They divorced five years later, although some accounts refer to the union as a nine-month marriage

Her fourth and final marriage in 1960 was to jazz trumpeter Pete Candoli, a brother of Conte Candoli Hutton and Candoli had one child:

  • Carolyn Candoli, born on March 9, 1961

They divorced in 1967

Hutton was once engaged to the head of the Warner Bros makeup department, makeup artist Perc Westmore in 1942,11 but broke off the engagement, saying it was because he bored her12

Life after Hollywoodedit

With American sailors and marines in the Marshall Islands in December 1944

After the 1967 death of her mother in a house fire and the collapse of her last marriage, Hutton's depression and pill addictions escalated She divorced her fourth husband, jazz trumpeter Pete Candoli, and declared bankruptcy Hutton had a nervous breakdown and later attempted suicide after losing her singing voice in 1970 After regaining control of her life through rehabilitation, and the mentorship of a Roman Catholic priest, Father Peter Maguire, Hutton converted to Roman Catholicism and took a job as a cook at a rectory in Portsmouth, Rhode Island She made national headlines when it was revealed she was working in a rectory

In 1974, a well-publicized "Love-In for Betty Hutton" was held at New York City's Riverboat Restaurant, emceed by comedian Joey Adams, with several old Hollywood pals on hand The event raised $10,000 for Hutton and gave her spirits a big boost, but steady work still eluded her

Hutton appeared in an interview with Mike Douglas and a brief guest appearance in 1975 on Baretta In 1977, Hutton was featured on The Phil Donahue Show Hutton was then happily employed as hostess at a Newport, Rhode Island jai alai arena

She also appeared on Good Morning America, which led to a 1978 televised reunion with her two daughters Hutton began living in a shared home with her divorced daughter and grandchildren in California, but returned to the East Coast for a three-week return to the stage She followed Dorothy Loudon as the evil Miss Hannigan in Annie on Broadway13 in 1980 Hutton's rehearsal of the song "Little Girls" was featured on Good Morning America Hutton's Broadway comeback was also included in a profile that was done about her life, her struggle with pills, and her recovery on CBS News Sunday Morning

A ninth-grade drop-out, Hutton went back to school and earned a master's degree in psychology from Salve Regina University During her time at college, Hutton became friends with singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh and attended several early concerts of Hersh's band, Throwing Muses14 Hersh later wrote the song "Elizabeth June" as a tribute to her friend, and wrote about their relationship in further detail in her memoir, Rat Girl15

Her last known performance, in any medium, was on Jukebox Saturday Night, which aired on PBS in 198316 Hutton stayed in New England and began teaching comedic acting at Boston's Emerson College She became estranged again from her daughters

Betty Hutton's headstone at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California - her epitaph reads "Loved by All"

After the death of her ally, Father Maguire, Hutton returned to California, moving to Palm Springs in 1999, after decades in New England Hutton hoped to grow closer with her daughters and grandchildren, as she told Robert Osborne on TCM's Private Screenings in April 2000, though her children remained distant She told Osborne that she understood their hesitancy to accept a now elderly mother The TCM interview first aired on July 18, 2000 The program was rerun as a memorial on the evening of her death in 2007, and again on July 11, 2008, April 14, 2009, January 26, 2010, and as recently as March 18, 201717 as part of TCM's memorial tribute for Robert Osborne

Hutton lived in Palm Springs until her death March 12, 2007, at 86, from colon cancer complications1819 Hutton is buried at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California2021


For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Betty Hutton has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6259 Hollywood Boulevard22

Hit songsedit

Introduced by Hutton in The Perils of Pauline 1947 and released on Capitol Records, "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song
Year Title Chart peak Catalog number Notes
1939 "Old Man Mose" with Vincent Lopez Orchestra
"Igloo" 15 Bluebird 10300 with Vincent Lopez Orchestra
"The Jitterbug" Bluebird 10367 with Vincent Lopez Orchestra
1942 "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry"
"I'm Doin' It For Defense"
1943 "Murder, He Says"
"The Fuddy Duddy Watchmaker"
1944 "Bluebirds in my Belfry"
"It Had To Be You" 5 Capitol 155 with Paul Weston Orchestra
"His Rocking Horse Ran Away" 7 Capitol 155 with Paul Weston Orchestra
1945 "Stuff Like That There" 4 Capitol 188 with Paul Weston Orchestra
"What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For" 15 Capitol 211 with Paul Weston Orchestra
"Doin' It The Hard Way" Capitol 211 with Paul Weston Orchestra
"Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief" 1 Capitol 220 with Paul Weston Orchestra
"A Square in the Social Circle" Capitol 220 with Paul Weston Orchestra
1946 "My Fickle Eye" 21 RCA Victor 20-1915 with Joe Lilley Orchestra
1947 "Poppa, Don't Preach To Me" Capitol 380 with Joe Lilley Orchestra
"I Wish I Didn't Love You So" 5 Capitol 409 with Joe Lilley Orchestra
1949 "Where Are You Now That I Need You" Capitol 620 with Joe Lilley Orchestra
1950 "Orange Colored Sky" 24 RCA Victor 20-3908 with Pete Rugolo Orchestra
"Can't Stop Talking" RCA Victor 20-3908 with Pete Rugolo Orchestra
"A Bushel and a Peck" duet with Perry Como 3 RCA Victor 20-3930 with Mitchell Ayres Orchestra
1951 "It's Oh So Quiet"23 RCA Victor 20-4179 with Pete Rugolo Orchestra
"The Musicians" with Dinah Shore, Tony Martin and Phil Harris 24 RCA Victor 20-4225 with Henri René Orchestra
1953 "Goin' Steady" 21 Capitol 2522 with Nelson Riddle Orchestra
1954 "The Honeymoon's Over" duet with Tennessee Ernie Ford 16 Capitol 2809 with Billy May Orchestra
1956 "Hit the Road to Dreamland" Capitol 3383 with Vic Schoen Orchestra


Motion pictures
Year Film Role Notes
1938 Queens of the Air Herself film short
1939 Vincent Lopez and His Orchestra Herself film short
Three Kings and a Queen Herself film short
Public Jitterbug No 1 Herself film short
1940 One for the Book Cinderella film short
1942 The Fleet's In Bessie Day
Star Spangled Rhythm Polly Judson
1943 Happy Go Lucky Bubbles Hennessy
Let's Face It Winnie Porter
Strictly GI Herself film short
1944 The Miracle of Morgan's Creek Trudy Kockenlocker
And the Angels Sing Bobby Angel
Skirmish on the Home Front Emily Average film short
Here Come the Waves Susan Allison / Rosemary Allison
1945 Incendiary Blonde Texas Guinan
Duffy's Tavern Herself cameo
Hollywood Victory Caravan Herself film short
The Stork Club Judy Peabody
1946 Cross My Heart Peggy Harper
1947 The Perils of Pauline Pearl White
1948 Dream Girl Georgina Allerton
1949 Red, Hot and Blue Eleanor "Yum-Yum" Collier
1950 Annie Get Your Gun Annie Oakley
Let's Dance Kitty McNeil
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth Holly
Sailor Beware Hetty Button cameo, Uncredited
Somebody Loves Me Blossom Seeley
1957 Spring Reunion Margaret "Maggie" Brewster
Year Film Role Notes
1958 That's My Mom 1 episode unaired pilot
1959–60 The Betty Hutton Show Goldie Appleby 30 episodes
1964 The Greatest Show on Earth Julia Dana 1 episode
1964–65 Burke's Law Carlene Glory
Rena Zito
2 episodes
1965 Gunsmoke Molly McConnell 1 episode
1977 Baretta Velma 1 episode, Last appearance

Box-office rankingedit

For several years, film exhibitors voted Hutton among the leading stars in the country:

  • 1944 – 25th US24
  • 1950 – 15th US
  • 1951 – 9th UK
  • 1952 – 14th US,25 3rd UK

Stage workedit

  • Two for the Show 1940
  • Panama Hattie 1940
  • Betty Hutton and Her All-Star International Show 1952
  • Gypsy 1962
  • South Pacific 1962
  • Annie Get Your Gun 1963
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1964
  • Fade Out – Fade In 1964 replacement for Carol Burnett
  • Mary, Mary 1965
  • Here Today 1966
  • Here Today 1972
  • Anything Goes 1973
  • Annie 1980 replacement for Dolores Wilson

Radio appearancesedit

Year Program Episode/source
April 12, 1942 Command Performance with Gene Tierney - first show from Hollywood
June 2, 1942 Command Performance with Mickey Rooney
February 6, 1943 Command Performance with Rita Hayworth
October 2, 1943 Command Performance with Don Ameche
November 13, 1943 Command Performance with Bob Hope
May 29, 1948 Command Performance with Bob Hope - sixth-anniversary special
February 6, 1950 Lux Radio Theatre "Red, Hot And Blue"
1952 Stars in the Air "Suddenly, It's Spring"26
April 27, 1953 Lux Radio Theatre "Somebody Loves Me"

Awards and nominationsedit

Year Award Result Category Film
1944 Golden Apple Awards Won Most Cooperative Actress -
1951 Golden Globe Award Nominated Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical/Comedy Annie Get Your Gun
1950 Photoplay Awards Won Most Popular Female Star Annie Get Your Gun

Pop cultureedit

Her songs "He's a Demon - He's a Devil - He's a Doll" and "It's a Man" are featured in the open-world video game, Fallout 4, on the in-game radio


  • Biography portal
  1. ^ Information about the date of Hutton's death has conflicts
    • Her gravestone says March 12, which is also given in the Social Security Death Index and in a list provided by the cemetery
    • The New York Times obituary, published on March 14 Wednesday, says she died "Sunday night", which was March 11
    • The AP obituary does not have a clear death date: "The death was confirmed Monday by a friend of Hutton, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing her wishes that her death be announced at a specified time by the executor of her estate, Carl Bruno The source refused to provide further details including the time and cause of death"
    • The Guardian obituary was first published with March 12 as the death date, which was then changed to the 11th a week later, per the note at the bottom
  2. ^ Percy E Thornburg at Find a Grave
  3. ^ "Betty Hutton | biography - American actress and singer" Britannicacom Retrieved 2015-08-16 
  4. ^ http://wwwbettyhuttonestatecom/
  5. ^ Panama Hattie opening night cast at IBDB
  6. ^ Two For The Show opening night cast at IBDB
  7. ^ Click: The National Picture Monthly, "Hollywood Fights Its Slowdown: Wage-ceiling starlets will solve the shortage of stars" March 1943, page 17 Author not credited
  8. ^ Satins and Spurs TV at IMDB
  9. ^ Billboard Oct 26, 1959 p 52
  10. ^ Fade Out – Fade In replacement cast members at IBDB
  11. ^ "St Petersburg Times - Google News Archive Search" newsgooglecom Retrieved 2016-07-24 
  12. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive Search" newsgooglecom Retrieved 2016-07-24 
  13. ^ Annie replacement cast members at IBDB
  14. ^ "Beautiful Old Betty" kristin hersh 2007-09-27 Retrieved 2015-08-16 
  15. ^ 1 Archived April 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Jukebox Saturday Night at IMDB
  17. ^ Robert Osborne interview on TCM on YouTube, video, 60 minutes
  18. ^ Severo, Richard March 14, 2007 "Betty Hutton, Film Star of ’40s and ’50s, Dies at 86" The New York Times Retrieved 2009-06-30 
  19. ^ "Actress And Singer Betty Hutton Dead" CBS News 
  20. ^ Palm Springs Cemetery District "Interment Information"
  21. ^ Betty Hutton at Find a Grave
  22. ^ Betty Hutton - Hollywood Walk of Fame
  23. ^ "Advance Record Releases" The Billboard: 30 July 7, 1951 ISSN 0006-2510 Retrieved September 6, 2011 
  24. ^ "Bing Crosby America's Screen Favourite" The Argus Melbourne: National Library of Australia 24 March 1945 p 8 Supplement: The Argus Week-end Magazine Retrieved 5 October 2014 
  25. ^ "BOX OFFICE DRAW" The Barrier Miner Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia 29 December 1952 p 3 Retrieved 4 October 2014 
  26. ^ Kirby, Walter February 17, 1952 "Better Radio Programs for the Week" The Decatur Daily Review p 40 Retrieved June 1, 2015 – via Newspaperscom 

Further readingedit

  • Betty Hutton, Backstage You Can Have: My Own Story, 2009 The Betty Hutton Estate ISBN 978-1500916220
  • The Betty Hutton Estate, Betty Hutton Scrapbook: A Tribute To Hollywood's Blonde Bombshell, 2015 The Betty Hutton Estate ISBN 978-1514202531
  • Gene Arceri, Rocking Horse: A Personal Biography of Betty Hutton, 2009, BearManor Media ISBN 978-1593933210

External linksedit

  • Betty Hutton at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Betty Hutton on Internet Movie Database
  • Betty Hutton at the TCM Movie Database
  • BettyHuttonEstate The Betty Hutton Estate
  • satinsandspurscom The Betty Hutton Website
  • Betty Hutton at who2com
  • Time Magazine article, April 24, 1950
  • Denny Jackson's Betty Hutton Page at the Wayback Machine archived October 28, 2009 fan site
  • Betty Hutton at BroadwayWorldcom
  • Betty Hutton at Virtual History
  • http://wwwcbsnewscom/news/actress-and-singer-betty-hutton-dead
  • http://wwwforbescom/sites/maryclairekendall/2013/03/11/betty-huttons-miraculous-recovery

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