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Betty Hutton

Betty Hutton

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Also Known As: Betty Darling, Betty June Thornburg, Betty Jane Boyar Died: March 12, 2007
Born: February 26, 1921 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Battle Creek, Michigan Profession: actor, singer, housekeeper, cook, teacher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Rambunctious blonde band vocalist (billed as "America's Number One Jitterbug" in the late 1930s) who signed with Paramount in 1941 and went on to become one of the most popular musical comedy box-office stars of the 1940s. Often paired with bumbling comedian Eddie Bracken, the irrepressible, almost manically energetic, Hutton starred in a slew of successful but largely mediocre musicals shaped by her mentor songwriter B.G. 'Buddy' DeSylva, as well as biopics of speakeasy owner Texas Guinan ("Incendiary Blonde" 1945), silent film heroine Pearl White ("The Perils of Pauline" 1947) and singer Blossom Seeley ("Somebody Loves Me" 1952). She is best remembered for her superb comic performance in Preston Sturges' "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944), her suitably rowdy Annie Oakley in the Irving Berlin musical, "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950) and her starring role in as a highwire artist in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952). Hutton's completely unrestrained playing style, decidedly an acquired taste, seemed to suggest at once insecurity, unhappiness and a possibility for temperament. Hutton walked out of her Paramount contract after the studio refused to allow her second husband,...

Rambunctious blonde band vocalist (billed as "America's Number One Jitterbug" in the late 1930s) who signed with Paramount in 1941 and went on to become one of the most popular musical comedy box-office stars of the 1940s. Often paired with bumbling comedian Eddie Bracken, the irrepressible, almost manically energetic, Hutton starred in a slew of successful but largely mediocre musicals shaped by her mentor songwriter B.G. 'Buddy' DeSylva, as well as biopics of speakeasy owner Texas Guinan ("Incendiary Blonde" 1945), silent film heroine Pearl White ("The Perils of Pauline" 1947) and singer Blossom Seeley ("Somebody Loves Me" 1952). She is best remembered for her superb comic performance in Preston Sturges' "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944), her suitably rowdy Annie Oakley in the Irving Berlin musical, "Annie Get Your Gun" (1950) and her starring role in as a highwire artist in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952). Hutton's completely unrestrained playing style, decidedly an acquired taste, seemed to suggest at once insecurity, unhappiness and a possibility for temperament. Hutton walked out of her Paramount contract after the studio refused to allow her second husband, choreographer Charles O'Curran, to direct her films; her film career subsequently went into a downward spiral and despite successful vaudeville tours in the 1950s, by the 1960s Hutton had slipped into obscurity. A virtual recluse, making occasional headlines with her marital, physical and emotional problems, she filed for bankruptcy in 1967 (after having made and spent $10 million during her heyday) and was discovered working as a cook and housekeeper at a Rhode Island rectory in the mid-1970s. In 1980 Hutton made a heralded return to the Broadway stage as Miss Hannigan in the hit musical "Annie" and in the mid-1980s became a teacher of film and television at Salve Regina College in Rhode Island, where she had earned her liberal arts degree in 1986.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 That's Entertainment! III (1994) Song Performer
2.
 Wisecracks (1991) Herself (Archival Footage)
3.
 Jazz Ball (1958)
4.
 Spring Reunion (1957) Maggie Brewster
5.
6.
 Sailor Beware (1952) Hetty Button
7.
 Somebody Loves Me (1952) Blossom Seeley
8.
 Let's Dance (1950) Kitty McNeil
9.
 Annie Get Your Gun (1950) Annie Oakley
10.
 Red, Hot and Blue (1949) Eleanor Collier
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1923:
Mother moved with daughters to Detroit where she worked in an automobile factory and operated a speakeasy after husband's desertion (date approximate)
:
Began career dancing on tabletops with her sister at her mother's bootleg bar in Lansing, Michigan at age three
:
Got first professional job as a singer at a Michigan summer resort at age 13; worked with a local band composed of high school students
:
Made brief, unsuccessful trip to New York to break into show business at age 15
1937:
Discovered by bandleader Vincent Lopez, singing at a Detroit nightclub; hired as vocalist with Lopez's band at $65 at week; used name of Betty Darling on tour (had previously been billed as Betty Jane Boyar)
1938:
Sister became a vocalist with the Glenn Miller band; both sisters changed their last name to Hutton
1938:
Professional singing debut with the Lopez band at Billy Rose's Casa Manana Club in Manhattan
1939:
Recording debut on Bluebird Records doing vocals with Vincent Lopez's band on "Igloo" and "The Jitterbug" and a duet with Sonny Shuyler on "Concert in the Park"
1939:
Screen debut in Vitaphone short, "Vincent Lopez and His Orchestra"; also appeared with Hal Sherman in Vitaphone short, "One For the Book" (1939) and with Hal LeRoy in "Public Jitterbug No. 1" (1939)
1939:
Made first short for Paramount, "Three Kings and a Queen"
1939:
Performed on Vincent Lopez's NBC radio program; toured vaudeville circuit with bandleader
1940:
Left Lopez's band; Broadway stage debut in revue, "Two For the Show"
1940:
Featured in the Cole Porter Broadway musical "Panama Hattie", starring Ethel Merman
1942:
Hired at $1,000 a week by "Panama Hattie" producer B G 'Buddy' DeSylva to make feature debut in Paramount musical, "The Fleet's In"
1942:
Named Star of Tomorrow by the MOTION PICTURE HERALD exhibitors' poll
1942:
Landed a comedy and singing job on radio's "The Bob Hope Show" (date approximate)
1943:
Became one of the first performers to be signed by songwriter Johnny Mercer for the newly formed Capitol Records
1944:
Appeared in first non-singing role, "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek", directed by Preston Sturges
1944:
Renegotiated new contract with Paramount at $5,000 a week
1944:
Toured vaudeville circuit
1944:
Embarked on a two-month USO tour of the South Pacific
1945:
Starred in first dramatic role as Texas Guinan in "Incendiary Blonde"
1950:
Signed with RCA Victor records
1950:
Replaced an ailing Judy Garland as Annie Oakley in the film version of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun"
1952:
Played the trapeze artist in Cecil B DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth"
1952:
After successful vaudeville engagement at the Palace Theatre in New York, underwent throat surgery and had to retrain her voice
1952:
Walked out of her Paramount contract (a year before it expired) when the studio refused to allow her husband Charles O'Curran to direct her vehicle "Topsy and Eva"; film was never made
1952:
Turned to successful vaudeville career
1953:
Returned to Capitol Records
1954:
TV debut as the star of the musical special, "Satins and Spurs" (NBC)
1954:
Announced retirement as a result of failure of TV special
1957:
Returned to film with "Spring Reunion" (her last film to date)
1959:
Starred as a manicurist on short-lived CBS sitcom, "Goldie" (retitled "The Betty Hutton Show")
1962:
Toured in a summer production of "Gypsy"
1964:
Returned to Broadway as Carol Burnett's replacement for one week in the musical, "Fade Out, Fade In"
1967:
Filed for bankruptcy
:
Moved into St Anthony's Rectory in Portsmouth, Rhode Island after entering a detox program; worked as a housekeeper--cooking, washing dishes and making beds at rectory; converted to Catholicism in the mid-1970s
1975:
Briefly resumed nightclub career
1976:
Made guest appearance on the ABC detective series "Baretta"
1978:
Hired to greet people at the door of a jai-alai playing field and establishment in Connecticut
:
Returned to Rhode Island to live
1981:
Returned to Broadway for two weeks playing Miss Hannigan in the hit musical "Annie"
1986:
Named a member of the faculty of Salve Regina College in Newport, Rhode Island, teaching motion picture and TV classes
1988:
Collapsed while teaching; diagnosed with Epstein-Barr syndrome
2000:
Gave first major TV interview in nearly 20 years to Robert Osborne for the American Movie Classics series "Private Screenings"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Salve Regina College: Newport , Rhode Island - 1983 - 1986

Notes

Besides film title "Incendiary Blonde" which clung to Hutton as a nickname, she was also called "The Blonde Blitzkrieg" and "The Huttontot" all monikers that capitalized on her outward personality, ignoring the depressed and restless creature who lived within them.

"Exuberant, a firecracker, a live wire: all of these describe the dynamo that was Betty Hutton, and yet none of them fully does her justice. For in addition to her mile-a-minute screen persona (which also exemplified her to some degree in real life), Hutton was a seasoned performer who could act and sing and put over a vehicle by the sheer force of her vibrant personality....At one point in the late 1940s, she was ranked second only to Judy Garland in her enormous audience appeal."--James Robert Parish and Michael R. Pitts ("Hollywood Songsters", Garland Publishing Company, 1991)

Hutton's contract with bandleader Vincent Lopez called for him to get 20 percent of income in current and all future ventures. ("Hollywood Songsters", Garland Publishing Company, 1991)

Hutton taught theatre arts at Emerson College in Boston, MA

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Edward Norris. Actor. Dated briefly.
husband:
Ted Briskin. Camera manufacturer. Married on September 2, 1945; divorced in April 1950.
companion:
Robert Sterling. Actor. Dated after her divorce from Ted Briskin c. 1951.
husband:
Charles O'Curran. Choreographer. Married on March 18, 1952 in Las Vegas; divorced in February 1955; second husband; had been her dance director on "Somebody Loves Me" (1952).
companion:
Norman Krasna. Screenwriter. Briefly engaged in 1955.
husband:
Alan W Livingston. Recording executive. Married on March 8, 1955; divorced on October 21, 1960; executive with Capitol Records.
husband:
Peter Candoli. Trumpeter. Born c. 1927; married on December 24, 1960; obtained Mexican divorce in 1966; reconciled; divorced in November 1971.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Percy Thornburg. Railroad brakeman. Deserted family in 1923 when Hutton was two; committed suicide in 1937.
mother:
Mabel Thornburg. Auto factory worker, speakeasy operator. Died on January 1, 1962; fell asleep while smoking and died in the fire.
sister:
Marion Hutton. Actor, singer. Born on March 10, 1920; died in 1987; female lead vocalist with the Glenn Miller Band; appeared in the films "Orchestra Wives" (1942), "Crazy House", "In Society" (both 1944) and "Love Happy" (1950).
daughter:
Candy Briskin. Born on November 23, 1946.
daughter:
Lindsay Briskin. Born on April 14, 1948.
daughter:
Carolyn Candoli. Born in 1962.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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