Elizabeth June Thornburg
February 26, 1921
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||March 11, 2007 (aged 86)|
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Desert Memorial Park|
(m. 1945; div. 1951)
(m. 1952; div. 1955)
(m. 1955; div. 1960)
(m. 1960; div. 1967)
|Relatives||Marion Hutton (sister)|
Betty Hutton (born Elizabeth June Thornburg; February 26, 1921 – March 11, 2007) was an American stage, film, and television actress, comedian, dancer, and singer.
Early life and education
Hutton was born Elizabeth June Thornburg on February 26, 1921, in Battle Creek, Michigan. 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 1937, informing them of his suicide. Betty and her older sister, Marion, were raised by her alcoholic mother, who took the surname Hutton. Marion 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. They eventually landed in Detroit, where she attended Foch Intermediate School. 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, but she was turned away.
A few years later, she was scouted by orchestra leader Vincent Lopez, who gave Hutton her entry into the entertainment business.
She appeared in several musical shorts for Warner Bros., Queens of the Air (1938), Three Kings and a Queen (1939), Public Jitterbug No. 1 (1939), and One for the Book (1940).
Hutton was cast in a Broadway show, Two for the Show (1940), which ran for 124 performances.
The show was produced by Buddy DeSylva, who then cast Hutton in Panama Hattie (1940–42). This was a major hit, running for 501 performances. It starred Ethel Merman; despite rumors through the years that Merman demanded from envy that Hutton's musical numbers be reduced from the show, more careful reports demonstrate that producer Buddy DeSylva chose to cut just one song of three, "They Ain't Done Right by Our Nell", due to Hutton's "always in overdrive" performance style.
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, alongside Eddie Bracken and William Holden. The film was popular and Hutton was an instant hit with the moviegoing public.
Hutton was one of the many Paramount contract artists who appeared in Star Spangled Rhythm (1942). The studio did not immediately promote her to major stardom, but did give her the second lead in a Mary Martin film musical, Happy Go Lucky (1943). The response was positive, and Hutton was given co-star billing with Bob Hope in Let's Face It (1943). During that year, she made $1250 per week.
The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
In 1942, writer-director Preston Sturges cast Betty as the dopey but endearing small-town girl who gives local troops a happy send-off and wakes up married and pregnant, but with no memory of who her husband is, except that a few "z's" were in his name. This film, The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, was delayed by Hays Office objections and Sturges' prolific output, and was finally released early in 1944.
The film made Hutton a major star; Sturges was nominated for a Best Writing Oscar, the film was named to the National Film Board's Top Ten films for the year, and the National Board of Review nominated the film for Best Picture of 1944, and awarded Betty Hutton the award for Best Acting for her performance. The New York Times named it as one of the 10 Best Films of 1942–1944.
Critic James Agee noted that "the Hays office must have been raped in its sleep" to allow the film to be released. And although the Hays Office received many letters of protest because of the film's subject matter, it was Paramount's highest-grossing film of 1944, playing to standing room-only audiences in some theatres.
On the strength of Hutton's success, she signed a recording contract with the newly formed Capitol Records (she was one of the earliest artists to do so).
Buddy DeSylva, one of Capitol's founders, also co-produced her next hit, the musical Incendiary Blonde (1945), where she played Texas Guinan. It was directed by veteran comedy director George Marshall and Hutton had replaced Lamour as Paramount's top female box-office attraction.
Hutton went into Cross My Heart (1946) with Sonny Tufts, which she disliked. She did however enjoy the hugely popular The Perils of Pauline (1947), directed by Marshall, where she sang a Frank Loesser song that was nominated for an Oscar: "I Wish I Didn't Love You So".
Hutton's relationship with Paramount began to disintegrate when DeSylva left the studio due to illness (he died in 1950). "After I left I started doing scripts that I knew weren't good for me."
Annie Get Your Gun
Hutton's next screen triumph came in Annie Get Your Gun (1950) for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which hired her to replace 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.
Hutton was one of several stars in The Greatest Show on Earth (1952). She made an unbilled cameo in Sailor Beware (1952) with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a remake of The Fleet's In, in which she portrayed Dean's girlfriend, Hetty Button.
Hutton then clashed with Paramount. The New York Times reported that the dispute resulted from her insistence that her husband at the time, choreographer Charles O'Curran, direct her in a film.
In April 1952, Hutton returned to Broadway, performing in Betty Hutton and Her All-Star International Show.
Television and theatre
The Betty Hutton Show
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz took a chance on Hutton in 1959, with their company Desilu Productions giving her a CBS sitcom, The Betty Hutton Show. Hutton hired the still-blacklisted and future film composer Jerry Fielding to direct her series. They had met over the years in Las Vegas when he was blacklisted from TV and radio and could get no other work, and her Hollywood career was also fading. It was Fielding's first network job since losing his post as musical director of Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life in 1953 after hostile questioning by HUAC. The Betty Hutton Show ended after 30 episodes.
Hutton continued 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.
Life after Hollywood
After the 1962 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, when she discovered he had fallen in love with Edie Adams (who would become Candoli's second wife). She declared bankruptcy the same year.
After losing her singing voice in 1970, Hutton had a nervous breakdown and later attempted suicide. She regained control of her life through rehabilitation, 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 practically penniless and working in a rectory. After an aborted comeback in 1974, she was hospitalized with emotional exhaustion. Later that year, 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 for Hutton and gave her spirits a big boost, but steady work 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. She 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.
In 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).
Hutton's rehearsal of the song "Little Girls" was featured on Good Morning America. Hutton's Broadway comeback was also included in a profile on CBS News Sunday Morning about her life, her struggle with pills, and her recovery.
A ninth-grade drop-out, Hutton went back to school and earned a master's degree in psychology from Salve Regina University in 1986. 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 later wrote the song "Elizabeth June" as a tribute to her friend, and wrote about their relationship in further detail in her memoir, Rat Girl.
Hutton's 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 to 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, January 26, 2010, and as recently as March 18, 2017. as part of TCM's memorial tribute for Robert Osborne.
Marriages and children
This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2017)
Hutton's first marriage was to camera manufacturer Ted Briskin in 1945. The marriage ended in divorce in 1951. 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
- Carolyn Candoli, born on March 9, 1961
|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||Herself||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|
|Hollywood Victory Caravan||Herself||film short|
|The Stork Club||Judy Peabody|
|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||cameo, Uncredited|
|Somebody Loves Me||Blossom Seeley|
|1957||Spring Reunion||Margaret "Maggie" Brewster|
|1958||That's My Mom||1 episode (unaired pilot)|
|1959–1960||The Betty Hutton Show||Goldie Appleby||30 episodes|
|1964||The Greatest Show on Earth||Julia Dana||1 episode|
|1964–1965||Burke's Law||Carlene Glory
|1965||Gunsmoke||Molly McConnell||1 episode|
|1977||Baretta||Velma||1 episode, (final appearance)|
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 Alice Ghostley)
|April 12, 1942||Command Performance||with Gene Tierney - first show from Hollywood|
|June 2, 1942||Command Performance||with Mickey Rooney|
|February 6, 1943||Command Performance||with Rita Hayworth|
|October 2, 1943||Command Performance||with Don Ameche|
|November 13, 1943||Command Performance||with Bob Hope|
|May 29, 1948||Command Performance||with Bob Hope - sixth-anniversary special|
|February 6, 1950||Lux Radio Theatre||"Red, Hot And Blue"|
|1952||Stars in the Air||"Suddenly, It's Spring"|
|April 27, 1953||Lux Radio Theatre||"Somebody Loves Me"|
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|
In popular culture
Her songs "He's a Demon - He's a Devil - He's a Doll" and "It's a Man" are featured in the open-world video game, Fallout 4, on the in-game radio.
Her song "Murder, He Says" appeared in Woody Allen's 1989 film, Crimes and Misdemeanors.
- Information about the date of Hutton's death has conflicts.
- Her gravestone says March 12, which is also given in the Social Security Death Index and 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 does not 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 Guardian obituary was first published with March 12 as the death date, which was then changed to the 11th a week later, per the note at the bottom.
- "Betty Hutton Estate". Bettyhuttonestate.com. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- "Two For The Show – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB".
- "Panama Hattie – Broadway Musical – Original | IBDB".
- Brian Kellow, Ethel Merman: A Life (NY: Viking, 2007), 90-91. ISBN 9780670018291
- "Variety (January 1943)". New York, NY: Variety Publishing Company. October 24, 1943 – via Internet Archive.
- "Hollywood Fights Its Slowdown: Wage-ceiling starlets will solve the shortage of stars". Click: The National Picture Monthly (March 1943): 17.
- Donnelly, Elisabeth (2009-07-21). "The Reelist: Virgins on Film". Tribeca Film. Retrieved 2018-11-22.
- "Variety (January 1948)". New York, NY: Variety Publishing Company. October 24, 1948 – via Internet Archive.
- Thomas, Bob (August 7, 1952). "Betty Hutton, Husband Form Own Company". The Washington Post: 22.
- Severo, Richard (14 March 2007). "Betty Hutton, Film Star of '40s and '50s, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
- "Betty Hutton to Produce Films, Appear on TV". Los Angeles Times. (July 18, 1952): 20.
- Schallert, Edwin (October 14, 1954). "Betty Hutton Terrific in 'Final' Appearance". Los Angeles Times: A12.
- Television in Review: Betty Hutton: N. B. C. Stages First of Color 'Spectaculars' ' Satins and Spurs' Has Some Lusty Hoofing V. A. The New York Times. September 13, 1954: 31.
- Billboard Oct 26, 1959 p. 52
- Korman, Seymour (September 26, 1959). "Betty Hutton Turns to 'Goldie'". Chicago Daily Tribune: a5.
- "Fade Out – Fade In replacement cast members at IBDB". Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Estate, Betty Hutton. "Betty Hutton Estate". Betty Hutton Estate. Retrieved 20 March 2022.
- "Landlords Sue Betty Hutton". The Washington Post/Times Herald. March 10, 1967: B8.
- "Betty Hutton Put in Mental Hospital". Los Angeles Times. December 14, 1974: 5.
- "Annie replacement cast members at IBDB". Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Betty Hutton: A Trouper's Torment: The Showbiz Fires Are Banked, But the Flame of Hope Burns High A Trouper's Torments By Paul Hendrickson. The Washington Post 10 Feb 1979: C1.
- Salve Regina College (1986-05-18). "Salve Regina College Thirty-Sixth Annual Commencement program, 1986". Salve Regina University Commencement Programs.
- "Beautiful Old Betty". kristin hersh. 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
- Sheffield, Rob (October 8, 2010). "Book Review - Rat Girl - By Kristin Hersh". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 3, 2011.
- on YouTube, video, 60 minutes
- "Actress And Singer Betty Hutton Dead". CBS News.
- "Palm Springs Cemetery District "Interment Information"" (PDF).
- "Betty Hutton Remembered". Streamline: The Filmstruck Blog. 19 March 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
- "Perc Westmore to Wed Again". St. Petersburg Times. November 5, 1942. Retrieved July 24, 2016 – via Google News Archive.
- "The Milwaukee Journal". Retrieved July 24, 2016 – via Google News Archive.[dead link]
- "Betty Hutton - Hollywood Walk of Fame". Walkoffame.com. Retrieved October 24, 2019.
- "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: National Library of Australia. 24 March 1945. p. 8 Supplement: The Argus Week-end Magazine. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
- "Box Office Draw". The Barrier Miner. Broken Hill, NSW: National Library of Australia. 29 December 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
- Kirby, Walter (February 17, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 40. Retrieved June 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Betty Hutton, Backstage You Can Have: My Own Story, 2009. The Betty Hutton Estate ISBN 978-1500916220
- The Betty Hutton Estate, Betty Hutton Scrapbook: A Tribute To Hollywood's Blonde Bombshell, 2015. The Betty Hutton Estate ISBN 978-1514202531
- 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 IMDb
- 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