Betty Lou Gerson
|Betty Lou Gerson|
Gerson in 1949.
|Born||April 20, 1914
Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||January 12, 1999
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Years active||1935-1966; 1997|
|Spouse(s)||Louis R. Lauria (December 2, 1966-May 10, 1994) (his death)
Joe Ainley (1937-September 16, 1965) (his death)
Gerson was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but raised in Birmingham, Alabama. At age sixteen, Gerson moved with her family to Chicago, Illinois where she performed in the radio serial The First Nighter Program. She later moved again to New York City, New York.
Radio and Film
She began her acting career in radio drama in 1935, while still in her 20s, and became a mainstay of soap operas during this period, appearing on Arnold Grimm's Daughter (as the titular daughter Constance in 1938), Road of Life (as Nurse Helen Gowan), Lonely Women (as Marilyn Larimore), and the radio version of The Guiding Light, as Charlotte Wilson in the mid-1940s. She was the resident romantic lead on such romantic anthologies as Curtain Time, and Grand Hotel.
Moving to Los Angeles with first husband Joe Ainley (who had also directed The Guiding Light) in the 1940s, she soon established herself on such series as The Whistler, I Love Adventure, the historical drama Mr. President (as the presidential secretary), Crime Classics, Escape, and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. She was heard in several episodes of Lux Radio Theater, notably as Glinda in a 1950 dramatization of The Wizard of Oz. She also played a variety of feminine roles on Johnny Modero, Pier 23.
Around this time, she was cast as the narrator in Walt Disney's version of Cinderella (also 1950). 11 years later, she provided the voice of the villainous, selfish socialite Cruella De Vil in the Walt Disney animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961). Her few on-camera film roles include appearances in The Fly (1958), The Miracle on the Hills (1959), and Mary Poppins (1964) in a small cameo as an old crone. In television, she made three guest appearances on Perry Mason, including the role of murderer Marjory Davis in the episode, "The Case of the Foot-Loose Doll" (1959). She also guest starred on The Twilight Zone, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Hazel, and The Rifleman.
Gerson retired in 1966, though still using her voice, working at the telephone answering service of her second husband, Lou Lauria. She was honored as a Disney Legend in 1996. She returned to films one last time in 1997, providing the voice of Frances the fish in Cats Don't Dance. On January 12, 1999, she died of a massive stroke at the age of 84.
- The Red Menace (1949) as Greta Bloch, alias Yvonne Kraus
- Cinderella (1950) (voice) (uncredited) as Narrator
- Undercover Girl (1950) as Pat (nurse)
- The Green-Eyed Blonde (1957) (uncredited) as Mrs. Ferguson
- The Fly (1958) as Nurse Andersone
- The Miracle of the Hills (1959) as Kate Peacock
- One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) (voice) as Cruella De Vil / Miss Birdwell
- Mary Poppins (1964) (uncredited) as Old Crone
- Cats Don't Dance (1997) (voice) as Frances
- Betty Lou Gerson at Find a Grave
- Betty Lou Gerson at the Internet Movie Database
- Betty Lou Gerson radiography at Radio Gold Index
- Radio and TV Veteran Betty Lou Gerson Dies
- Betty Lou Gerson performances in radio series Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar available in mp3 format for free download at Archive.org