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Betty Furness

Betty Furness

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Also Known As: Elizabeth Mary Furness Died: April 2, 1994
Born: January 3, 1916 Cause of Death: cancer
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor, model, TV reporter, consumer journalist, consumer advocate

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Attractive blonde minor film actress of the 1930s (notably as the lead in "Midshipman Jack" 1933 and as featured player in "The Magnificent Obsession" 1935) who became a household name in the 1950s as a model opening refrigerator doors for Westinghouse television commercials and uttering the familiar catch phrase "You can be sure...if it's Westinghouse".In the 1960s Furness was apppointed President Johnson's Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs and brought a new high visibility to consumer rights and corporate responsibility. In 1973 she shifted her focus to local consumer affairs when she was named commissioner of New York City's Dpeartment of Consumer Affairs and functioned as chairwoman of New York State's Consumer Protection Board. She pioneered as one of the first consumer affairs reporters in TV broadcasting, serving as correspondent for NBC News from 1974 to 1992, covering issues ranging from the underreporting calories by food companies to faulty auto tires.

Attractive blonde minor film actress of the 1930s (notably as the lead in "Midshipman Jack" 1933 and as featured player in "The Magnificent Obsession" 1935) who became a household name in the 1950s as a model opening refrigerator doors for Westinghouse television commercials and uttering the familiar catch phrase "You can be sure...if it's Westinghouse".

In the 1960s Furness was apppointed President Johnson's Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs and brought a new high visibility to consumer rights and corporate responsibility. In 1973 she shifted her focus to local consumer affairs when she was named commissioner of New York City's Dpeartment of Consumer Affairs and functioned as chairwoman of New York State's Consumer Protection Board. She pioneered as one of the first consumer affairs reporters in TV broadcasting, serving as correspondent for NBC News from 1974 to 1992, covering issues ranging from the underreporting calories by food companies to faulty auto tires.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 A Face in the Crowd (1957) Herself
2.
 North of Shanghai (1939) Helen Warner
3.
 The Good Old Soak (1937) Lucy [Hawley]
4.
 It Can't Last Forever (1937) Carol Wilson
5.
 Fair Warning (1937) Kay Farnham
6.
 Mama Steps Out (1937) Leila Cuppy
7.
 They Wanted to Marry (1937) Sheila [Hunter]
8.
 Swing Time (1936) Margaret Watson
9.
 All American Chump (1936) Kitty [Crane]
10.
 Magnificent Obsession (1936) Joyce Hudson
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1930:
Became a child model at age 14 (date approximate)
1932:
Began modeling for the John Roberts Powers Agency
1932:
Film debut in "Renegades of the West"
1933:
Signed by RKO
1939:
Ended film career
:
Appeared on Broadway stage during the 1940s in "Doughgirls" and "My Sister Eileen"
1949:
Became TV's highest-paid product representative as model/spokeswoman for Westinghouse refrigerators throughout the 1950s on CBS dramatic series "Studio One"
:
Hosted TV variety series, "Penhouse Party"
1951:
Starred in her own TV series, "Byline" playing a reporter
:
Appeared on CBS-radio in "Dimension of a Woman's World" and "Ask Betty Furness"
:
Appointed President Johnson's Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs and chairwoman of the President's Commission on Consumer Affairs
:
Served as chairwoman and executive director of New York State Consumer Protection Board
:
Was consumer columnist for MCCALL's magazine
1972:
Resumed consumer column in MCCALL'S
1973:
Named New York City Commissioner of Consumer Affairs by Mayor John Lindsay
:
Named consumer affairs director and reporter for NBC-TV in New York; also contributed weekly consumer affairs segment to the "Today Show" (1974)
1976:
Was given an on-air tryout as cohost of "Today" after the departure of Barbara Walters; the job went to Jane Pauley
1990:
Successfully battled stomach cancer
1992:
Let go as consumer affairs reporter by NBC; to be replaced by a more aggressive investigative reporter in March
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Brearley School: New York , New York - 1925 - 1929
Bennett School: Millbrook , New York - 1929 - 1932

Notes

"Betty Furness spend the first part of her television career pitching products on behalf of advertisers, and the rest of it defending consumers against some of those advertisers."--Tim Brooks ("The Complete Directory to Primetime TV Stars", 1987)

Board of directors member for the Consumers Union (1969- ).

Served as a board of directors member to the Common Cause in 1971-75.

She was awarded honorary LLD from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1968.

She was granted honorary Doctor of Civil Law from Pace University (1973).

Received a honorary LLD from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY (1978).

She was given a honorary LLD from Marymount College (1983)

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Johnny Green. Songwriter, orchestra leader. Married November 27, 1937, divorced August 1943.
husband:
Hugh 'Bud' Ernst. Radio producer. Married January 3, 1945 until his death April 1950.
husband:
Leslie Midgley. CBS news executive, TV producer. Married August 15, 1967.

Family close complete family listing

father:
George Choate Furness. Radio pioneer, corporate executive. Was an official with Union Carbon and Carbide Corporation.
mother:
Florence Furness.
daughter:
Barbara Sturtevant Green. Father, Johnny Green.
granddaughter:
Liza Snyder. Actor.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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