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Hutton in 1944
|Born||Elizabeth June Thornburg
February 26, 1921
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||March 11, 2007
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
|Desert Memorial Park, Cathedral City, California|
|Spouse(s)||Ted Briskin (m. 1945–50)
Charles O'Curran (m. 1952–55)
Alan W. Livingston (m. 1955–60)
Pete Candoli (m. 1960–62)
|Children||Lindsay Diane Briskin (b. 1946)
Candice Elizabeth Briskin (b. 1947)
Carolyn Candoli (b. 1961)
Betty Hutton (February 26, 1921 – March 11, 2007)  was an American stage, film, and television actress, comedian and singer.
Hutton was born Elizabeth June Thornburg in Battle Creek, Michigan. She was the daughter of a railroad foreman, Percy E. Thornburg (1896–1939) and his wife, Mabel Lum (1901–1967). 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 1939, informing them of his suicide. Along with her older sister Marion, Betty was raised by her 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. She attended Central High School in Lansing, Michigan. They eventually landed in Detroit, Michigan. (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 Hattie (starring Ethel Merman) and Two for the Show, 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 and with the release of The Miracle of Morgan's Creek the following year, Hutton attained major stardom. By the time Incendiary Blonde was released in 1945, she had supplanted Lamour as Paramount's number one female box office attraction.
Hutton made 19 films from 1942 to 1952 including the hugely popular The Perils of Pauline in 1947. She was billed above Fred Astaire in the 1950 musical Let's Dance. Hutton's greatest screen triumph came in Annie Get Your Gun (1950) for MGM, 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. (Her obituary in The New York Times described her as "a brassy, energetic performer with a voice that could sound like a fire alarm.") Among her lesser known roles was an unbilled cameo in Sailor Beware (1952) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, in which she portrayed Dean's girlfriend, Hetty Button.
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, Charles O'Curran, direct her next film. When the studio declined, 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.
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 Your Show of Shows, fashioned his first "Color Spectacular" as an original musical written especially for Hutton, Satins and Spurs. It was an enormous flop with the public and the critics, despite being one of the first programs televised nationally by NBC in compatible color. In 1957, she appeared on a Dinah Shore show on NBC that also featured Boris Karloff; the program has been preserved on a kinescope. Desilu Productions took a chance on Hutton in 1959, giving her a sitcom, The Betty Hutton Show, directed by Jerry Fielding. It quickly faded.
Hutton began 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 In. In 1967 she was signed to star in two low-budget westerns for Paramount, but was fired shortly after the projects began. In the 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 children
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.
- Carolyn Candoli, born on March 9, 1961.
They divorced in 1962.
Life after Hollywood
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 rehab, 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 (USD) for Hutton and gave her spirits a big boost. Steady work, unfortunately, 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 Broadway in 1980. Hutton's rehearsal of the song "Little Girls" was featured on Good Morning America.
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 Muses. Hersh would later write the song "Elizabeth June" as a tribute to her friend, and wrote about their relationship in further detail in her memoir, Rat Girl.
Her last known performance, in any medium, was on Jukebox Saturday Night, which aired on PBS in 1983. Hutton stayed in New England and began teaching comedic acting at Boston's Emerson College. She became estranged again from her daughters.
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, and as recently as January 26, 2010.
Hutton lived in Palm Springs, California until her death, at 86, from colon cancer complications. Hutton is buried at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California. None of her three daughters attended the funeral.
|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"||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|
|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||Public Jitterbug No. 1||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 G.I.||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|
|The Stork Club||Judy Peabody|
|Hollywood Victory Caravan||Herself||film short|
|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||uncredited cameo|
|Somebody Loves Me||Blossom Seeley|
|1957||Spring Reunion||Margaret "Maggie" Brewster|
|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
|1965||Gunsmoke||Molly McConnell||1 episode|
Box Office Ranking
For several years film exhibitors voted Hutton among the leading stars in the country:
- 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)
Awards and nominations
|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|
- There is conflicting information about the date of Hutton's death.
- Her gravestone says March 12, which is also reflected 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 doesn't 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 corrected to the 11th a week later, per the note at the bottom
- The Social Security Death Index says March 12.
- Encyclopædia Britannica – Betty Hutton
- Panama Hattie opening night cast at IBDB
- Two For The Show opening night cast at IBDB
- Severo, Richard (March 14, 2007). "Betty Hutton, Film Star of ’40s and ’50s, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- Satins and Spurs (TV) at IMDB
- Billboard Oct 26, 1959 p. 52
- Fade Out – Fade In replacement cast members at IBDB
- Annie replacement cast members at IBDB
- Kristin Hersh: Beautiful Old Betty
- New York Times Sunday Book Review: Punk Days
- Jukebox Saturday Night at IMDB
- Robert Osborne interview on TCM on YouTube, video, 60 minutes
- "Actress And Singer Betty Hutton Dead". CBS News.
- Palm Springs Cemetery District "Interment Information"
- Betty Hutton at Find a Grave
- "Advance Record Releases". The Billboard: 30. July 7, 1951. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
- "Bing Crosby America's Screen Favourite.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848–1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 24 March 1945. p. 8 Supplement: The Argus Week-end Magazine. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- "BOX OFFICE DRAW.". Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954) (Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia). 29 December 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- Betty Hutton, Backstage You Can Have: My Own Story, 2009. The Betty Hutton Estate ISBN 978-1500916220
- Gene Arceri, Rocking Horse: A Personal Biography of Betty Hutton, 2009, BearManor Media ISBN 978-1593933210
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Betty Hutton.|
- Betty Hutton at the Internet Broadway Database
- Betty Hutton at the Internet Movie Database
- Betty Hutton at the TCM Movie Database
- BettyHuttonEstate The Betty Hutton Estate
- satinsandspurs.com The Betty Hutton Website
- Betty Hutton at who2.com
- 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 BroadwayWorld.com
- Betty Hutton at Virtual History