Betty Jane Watson
Elizabeth "Betty" Jane Watson (born December 28, 1921) is an American actress and singer known for her roles in musical theatre, especially Laurey in Oklahoma!. She later performed in nightclubs and on television.
Early life and marriages
Watson was born and raised in Bloomington, Illinois, the daughter of James R. Watson and his wife Elizabeth Jane, née Stapleton. She attended Lincoln Junior High School in Rockford, Illinois and later the American Conservatory of Music, in Chicago, where she majored in vocal performance. Her cousin was Jean Stapleton. In 1944, she married actor Gerald L. Austensen (1924–2007), who performed with her in nightclub acts. The couple had three children and divorced in 1961. In 1962 she married Salvatore Santacroce.
She made her first appearance on Broadway in 1944 as a replacement for Laurey in Oklahoma! and then toured in the role for over a year. In 1946, she starred in Toplitzky of Notre Dame. A reviewer for The Billboard praised Watson, writing: "did a sock job with all her numbers", even though he did not like the show. The following year, she originated Laurey in the West End production of Oklahoma!. In 1948, she played Katrina Van Tassel in the Broadway musical Sleepy Hollow and also appeared in the revue Hilarities. Of her performance as Katrina, The Billboard commented that she "puts plenty of flirtatious appeal into her Dutch heroine, and is tops vocally. In the Broadway show As the Girls Go at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1948, she originated the role of Kathy Robinson. The next year, she was a replacement in Texas, Li'l Darlin' on Broadway.
In 1958, Watson played the title role Off-Broadway at New York City Center in Annie Get Your Gun. In 1961, she replaced Lucille Ball in the lead of Wildcat and was Maimie Candijack (and also understudied Mimi) on Broadway in Sail Away. She also appeared in regional theatre roles in musicals including South Pacific (1955, 1963), The Pajama Game (1958), and Annie Get Your Gun (1961), and in nightclubs in the 1950s and 1960s. Among several television roles, she was a co-star in the game show Winner Take All.
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- "Broadway Openings: Toplitzky of Notre Dame", The Billboard, January 4, 1947, p. 24
- Francis, Bob. Broadway Opening: Sleepy Hollow", The Billboard, June 12, 1948, p. 45, accessed August 15, 2012
- Green, Stanley (1996) . Broadway Musicals. Show by show (5 ed.). Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corp. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-7935-7750-7.
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- Chance, Norman. "Winner Take All: Game Show", Who Was Who on TV, Volume 3, Xlibris Corporation, 2011, p. 478, accessed August 15, 2012