"There are two reasons why I am successful in show business and I am standing on both of them." - Betty Grable
Betty Grable was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable on December 18, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. She was the youngest of three children (her brother died before Betty was born). By the age of five she was taking tap dancing and saxophone lessons. Betty's mother was determined to make her a star. She took her to Hollywood when she was a teenager. Betty often had to lie about her age to get work. She beat out hundreds of other hopefuls to become one of the "Goldwyn Girls". Betty got small roles in movies like The Gay Divorcee and Pigskin Parade. Betty married former child star Jackie Coogan in November 1937. They divorced three years later.
In 1939 she starred on Broadway in the musical DuBarry Was A Lady. Betty was offered a contract with 20th Century Fox. She landed the lead in the 1940 musical Down Argentine Way. It was a smash and she became one of Hollywood's hottest actresses. More hit films followed including Moon Over Miami, Pin-Up Girl, and The Dolly Sisters. Betty dated Victor Mature and Tyrone Power. She fell in love with bandleader Artie Shaw and was devastated when he eloped with nineteen-year old Lana Turner. To make matters worse Betty discovered she was pregnant and had an abortion.In 1941 she became engaged to actor George Raft but ended the relationship when he could not get a divorce from his wife. Betty became the most popular sex symbol of World War 2 after a pin-up she posed for became world famous. As a publicity stunt Betty's legs were insured for one million dollars.
She married bandleader Harry James in July 1943. They had two daughters - Victoria was born in 1944 and Jessica was born in 1947. Betty and Harry's favorite pastime was horse racing and they owned several horses. By 1948 Betty was the highest paid woman in America. Despite all of her success Betty was growing tired of Hollywood and decided to stop making movies. Her final film was the 1955 musical How To Be Very, Very Popular. Betty later worked in Las Vegas and on Broadway. She made occasional appearances on television shows like The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour. During the 1960s Betty appeared in commercials for Geritol and Playtex. After years of putting up with Harry's gambling and cheated she divorced him in 1965. Betty was a heavy smoker who often smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. She died from lung cancer on July 2, 1973. Betty, who had once been a millionaire, was nearly broke when she passed away. She is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.
Moon Over Miami (1941)