Ruth Elizabeth Grable was born on December 18, 1916 in
St. Louis, Missouri. She was the youngest child of three.
Bettys mother was driven to see one of her daughters
in show business and since Bettys older sister didnt
succeed it was up to the youngest to make a go of things.
To Bettys advantage, she had talent and an interest
in dancing and singing.
In 1929, Betty and her family vacationed in California.
Her parents liked it so much that they stayed, as they wanted
to try and get their daughter into the movies. Betty was
enrolled in the Hollywood Professional School in addition
to taking dancing and coaching lessons.
Shortly after her thirteenth birthday, she was accepted
to play in the chorus in the film "Lets Go
Places." This movie was done black face so the
producers at Fox didnt know that Betty was not the
legal acting age of fifteen. Bettys mother was not
satisfied with her daughter only being accepted for one
role so she did what a lot of stage mothers did she
descended upon the powers that be until her daughter had
a movie contract. Betty appeared in another film and this
time, because this film was not done via black face, the
producers of Fox Films saw the young Grable. They knew she
was not of legal working age although she had false papers
stating she was fifteen as opposed to thirteen, and they
broke her contract. Bettys mother then approached
Samuel Goldwyn and Betty was signed to do the movie "Whoopee!"
starring Eddie Cantor. Other than dancing, Betty had a few
singing parts in the movie. She did bit parts until 1932
when she finally received billing in a movie. Although she
did a lot of one-time deals, Betty worked continuously.
Between 1937 to 1939, Miss Grable made eighteen films.
RKO liked her performance in the movie "The Gay
Divorcee" and signed her to a contract.
In the summer of 1935, Betty married actor Jackie Coogan.
The union of these two made Betty Grable a popular name.
The couple was signed to a contract to appear in a touring
show called "Hollywood Secrets." Bettys
career had a lot of bumps in it because the studios didnt
capitalize on her talents. The lack of publicity made it
more difficult for this star to get anything above third
billing in a show. Around 1939, her marriage was one of
the bumps in the road as Jackie Coogan was in litigation
to claim his share of his childhood earnings that he had
been cheated out of. Their marriage didnt last long
because of the tension.
The turning point in Bettys career was when she joined
a two week variety act "The Golden Gate Exposition"
that was run by Jack Healy.
She was known as the pin up girl because of the swimsuit
poster that she posed for at the age of thirteen during
World War II and quite a few United States service men owned
this famous picture.
Daryl Zanuck was a talent scout for 20th Century-Fox Studios.
Although he didnt have anything in mind for Miss Grable,
he knew that she had talent when he saw her films that she
had made for Paramount Pictures and signed her to a contract.
Her first work was in a musical, "Dubarry Was A
Lady", which also starred Ethel Merman. Betty was
really noticed for the first time and her career took off.
Zanuck capitalized on Bettys talents and cast her
opposite his favorite actors. Betty Grables films
became a box office draw.
In 1943, Betty Grables footprints became immortalized
in front of Graumans Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
In July of that year, Betty Grable married Harry James whom
she had met earlier in the year. In March of the following
year, Betty gave birth to a daughter. She was back on the
set in August to make another film. Over the years, Zanuck
worked Betty regardless of the fact that she was exhausted.
She was suspended twice for refusing to act so she could
rest. The third time she was suspended was when she wouldnt
allow Zanuck to loan her out to Columbia so in July of 1953,
she walked out of Zanucks office, but not before tearing
her contract up and telling him that she was leaving. She
then went to work for Columbia. When Zanuck called her to
make the movie "How to Be Very Popular"
Miss Grable agreed to do it but only if she received top
billing. It was released in July of 1955. By this time,
Betty was fed up with Hollywood and making movies. After
leaving films, she transitioned to television in the late
1950s and also appeared in nightclubs in Las Vegas playing
opposite Dan Dailey.
In 1964, her marriage to Harry James was on the decline
and they were divorced in October of 1965.
In 1972, Miss Grable was asked to come to the Academy Awards.
It was while she was doing the show that she noticed that
she had difficulty breathing. She went to the doctor and
was diagnosed with lung cancer. After she recovered from
having extensive treatments, she went back to work.
Miss Grable continued to work in the theatre from the mid
1960s until 1973 when she had recurring pains. She was back
in the hospital and found that the cancer had come back
but in a different location. After having cancer surgery,
her health rapidly declined and on July 3, 1973, Betty Grable
was no longer with us. She was buried on the fourth of July.
Betty Grable made over forty films and in 1943, Lloyds
of London insured her legs for up to one million dollars
this was the same year Miss Grable was Hollywoods
main attraction at the box office.