Betty Garrett (1919 - 2011)



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Garrett made her Broadway debut in 1942 in the revue Of V We Sing, which closed after 76 performances but led to her being cast in the Harold Rome revue Let Freedom Sing later that year.[11] It closed after only eight performances, but producer Mike Todd saw it and signed her to understudy Ethel Merman[12] and play a small role in the 1943 Cole Porter musical Something for the Boys.[13] Merman became ill during the run, allowing Garrett to play the lead for a week. During this time she was seen by producer Vinton Freedley, who cast her in Jackpot, a Vernon Duke/Howard Dietz musical also starring Nanette Fabray and Allan Jones.[14] The show closed quickly, and Garrett began touring the country with her nightclub act.
After appearing on Broadway in Laffing Room Only, which closed there, Garrett traveled with the show as it played extended runs in Detroit and Chicago. After that she returned to New York and was cast in Call Me Mister, which reunited her with Harold Rome, Lehman Engel, and Jules Munshin. She won critical acclaim and the Donaldson Award for her performance, which prompted Al Hirschfeld to caricature her in The New York Times.[17] It led to her being signed to a one-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Louis B. Mayer. Garrett arrived at the studio in January 1947 and made her film debut portraying nightclub performer Shoo Shoo O'Grady in Big City, directed by Norman Taurog and co-starring George Murphy and Robert Preston.[18] Mayer renewed her contract and she appeared in the musicals Words and Music, On the Town, Take Me Out To The Ball Game, and Neptune's Daughter in quick succession.
She won the 1974 Golden Globe for her performance on the series.

Garrett died of an aortic aneurysm in Los Angeles on February 12, 2011, at the age of 91. Her body was cremated.

Big City (1948) as Shoo Shoo Grady
Words and Music (1948) as Peggy Lorgan McNeil
Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949) as Shirley Delwyn
Neptune's Daughter (1949) as Betty Barrett
On the Town (1949) as Brunhilde "Hildy" Esterhazy
Some of the Best (1949, short subject)
My Sister Eileen (1955) as Ruth Sherwood
The Shadow on the Window (1957) as Linda Atlas
Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There (2003, Documentary) as Herself
Trail of the Screaming Forehead (2007) as Mrs. Cuttle
Dark and Stormy Night (2009) as Mrs. Hausenstout (final film role)
Troupers (2011, Documentary) as Herself
Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (2012, Documentary) as Herself
Television work
The Best of Anything (1960)
The Fugitive (1964, Episode: "Escape Into Black") as Margaret Ruskin
All in the Family (cast member from 1973-1975) as Irene Lorenzo
Who's Happy Now? (1975)
Laverne & Shirley (cast member from 1976-1981) as Edna Babish DeFazio
All the Way Home (1981, TV Movie) as Catherine
Somerset Gardens (1989, unsold pilot)
The Golden Girls (1992) as Sarah
The Long Way Home (1998, TV Movie) as Veronica

Betty Garrett Biography & Family History

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Betty Garrett was also known as:

Betty Garrett


at Saint Joseph, MO,
MO United States


Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, CA United States

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Husband: Larry Parks


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Betty Garrett
Born May 23, 1919 in St. Joseph, Missouri, USA
Died February 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California, USA (aortic aneurysm)
Mini Bio (1)
A sunny singer, dancer and comic actress, Betty Garrett starred in several Hollywood musicals and stage roles.. Garrett went on to appear in roles in many television series.
Spouse (1)
Larry Parks (8 September 1944 - 13 April 1975) ( his death) ( 2 children)
Sons with Larry Parks: composer Garrett Parks and actor Andrew Parks.
Studied acting at New York City's Neighborhood Playhouse under Sanford Meisner.
Attended and graduated from the Annie Wright School in Tacoma, Washington.
Godmother of Jeff Bridges.
She and Larry Parks spent a month on their honeymoon in Malibu Beach, California, and then lived apart for the next two years while pursuing their careers.
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Live Theatre at 6706 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on May 23, 2003 (her 84th birthday).
Co-founder, with Carol Eve Rossen and Sandy Kenyon, of "Theatre West", an internationally acclaimed non-profit arts organization in Hollywood, in 1962.
Performed at the 1939 World's Fair.
Was under contract at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1947-1949).
Made her theatrical debut in a 1938 Mercury Theatre production of "Danton's Death".
Best known by the public for her roles as Irene Lorenzo on All in the Family (1971) and as Edna Babish on Laverne & Shirley (1976).


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1919 - In the year that Betty Garrett was born, in June, the Treaty of Versailles - officially ending World War I - was signed. The European Allies demanded "compensation by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies and their property by the aggression of Germany by land, by sea and from the air.” The requirement of compensation is seen by most as the reason for the collapse of the German economy and gave rise to the rule of Hitler.

1936 - At the age of 17 years old, Betty was alive when on November 2nd, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) debuted the world's first regular high-definition television service. The channel had a short schedule - Monday through Saturday, 3:00p to 4:00p and 9:00p to 10:00p. The first broadcast was "Opening of the BBC Television Service".

1948 - By the time she was 29 years old, on May 14th, the State of Israel was proclaimed by David Ben-Gurion, who became Israel's first Premier, and the U.S. officially recognized Israel. That evening, Egypt launched an air assault on Israel.

1949 - By the time she was 30 years old, on April 4th, NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was established. Twelve nations originally signed the North Atlantic Treaty - the United States, Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Iceland, Canada, and Portugal. Greece, Turkey, and West Germany later joined. Today, there are 26 nations in NATO.

1981 - She was 62 years old when on January 20th, Ronald Reagan became the 40th President of the United States. He ran against the incumbent, Jimmy Carter, and won 50.7% of the popular vote to Carter's 41.0%.

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This obit of Betty Garrett is updated by the community. Edit this biography to contribute to her obituary. Include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

Betty Garrett, Antsy Cabby in ‘On the Town,’ Is Dead at 91
Betty Garrett, the brassy comic actress who played Frank Sinatra’s ardent, taxi-driving pursuer in the movie “On the Town,” Archie Bunker’s liberal foil of a neighbor in “All in the Family” and a sardonic landlady in “Laverne & Shirley,” died on Saturday in Los Angeles. She was 91.
The cause was an aortic aneurysm, her son Andrew Parks said.
In a career covering more than six decades, Ms. Garrett was seen in everything from theatrical revues to nightclubs to television sitcoms, but she most beguiled film audiences in a number of standout supporting roles in the popular MGM musicals of the late 1940s.
In “On the Town” (1949), she played a love-struck cabby, Brunhilde Esterhazy, who chases after an overwhelmed sailor (Sinatra), one of three sailors on a wartime leave in New York. (Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin were the other two.) While Sinatra is trapped in her cab hoping to see sights like Luchow’s restaurant and Radio City Music Hall, she pesters him in song to “Come Up to My Place.” Earlier that year she played a lovestruck fan who swoons for Sinatra — wearing a baseball uniform instead of Navy whites — in “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” the story of a team in the sport’s younger days that is surprised when its new owner is a woman (Esther Williams). While one of the movie’s most memorable songs was “O’Brien to Ryan to Goldberg,” again with Kelly and Munshin joining Sinatra, Ms. Garrett had a lively turn in “It’s Fate, Baby, It’s Fate.”
Just one year before, in 1948, Ms. Garrett had made a strong impression in a small role in “Words and Music,” a biographical film about Rodgers and Hart that highlighted the charm of their music. She played the girl who rejects Hart (Mickey Rooney) partly because he was short, but she gets to sing the classic “There’s a Small Hotel.”
Her career stalled soon after these milestones because in 1951 her husband, Larry Parks, an actor who had played Al Jolson in the movie “The Jolson Story,” was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee and admitted he had been a member of the Communist Party between 1941 and 1945. He also identified other Hollywood professionals who had belonged. Choice roles dried up for both of them in the climate of the McCarthy-era America.
Ms. Garrett with Phil Foster in “Laverne & Shirley.” Credit ABC Photo Archives, via Getty Images
“She was tarred with the same brush,” Andrew Parks said in a telephone interview.
Her husband’s film career never quite recovered, but the couple began a two-decade circuit of summer stock and other theaters where they could perform together. Both also substituted in Broadway’s “Bells are Ringing,” with Ms. Garrett taking over from the show’s star, Judy Holliday, and Mr. Parks assuming the Sydney Chaplin role.
According to Andrew Parks, Ms. Garrett often said, “If it hadn’t been for the blacklist , we probably would not have worked together as much.” Mr. Parks died in 1975. Besides her son Andrew, Ms. Garrett, who never remarried, is survived by another son, Garrett, and one grandchild.
Ms. Garrett was able to resume work in the film industry by 1955, when Columbia Pictures had her star as Janet Leigh’s sister, Ruth, in a musical version of “My Sister Eileen,” the story of two starry-eyed newcomers from Ohio who tackle the hurly-burly of New York out of a Greenwich Village basement apartment.
“Miss Garrett has the proper skepticism and the right desperation for the role,” wrote Bosley Crowther in The New York Times. “Her way with a line is homicidal. What’s more she can dance and sing.”
In the early 1970s, the television producer Norman Lear gave her perhaps her biggest break since her MGM days with a role in “All in the Family.” Ms. Garrett and Vincent Gardenia played a couple who move next door to Archie and Edith Bunker. Her character, Irene Lorenzo, argued politics and social issues with the bigoted Archie, played by Carroll O’Connor.
After two years on that series, Ms. Garrett moved to “Laverne & Shirley,” where she portrayed the oft-married landlord, Edna Babish, who lands Laverne’s father.
Born on May 23, 1919, in St. Joseph, Mo., Ms. Garrett was 3 when her parents moved to Seattle. After her parents divorced, she and her mother moved to New York. After winning a scholarship to the Neighborhood Playhouse, she played some roles at a 1939 World’s Fair production and joined some acts at the Catskills stages, then received her first Broadway role as an understudy in Orson Welles’s Mercury Theater production of “Danton’s Death.”
She was signed by the producer Michael Todd as Ethel Merman’s understudy in the 1943 Cole Porter musical “Something for the Boys” and then appeared in several other Broadway shows, including “Jackpot” and “Laffing Room Only.”
Her big breakthrough came in 1946 with “Call Me Mister.” In that Broadway revue, she stopped the show with “South America, Take It Away,” playing a U.S.O. hostess tired of America’s infatuation with Latin American dances like the rumba and samba.
She continued working well into her 80s, appearing in the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis” on Broadway in 1989 and in Noël Coward’s “Waiting in the Wings” in 2007 in Los Angeles.
Her final Broadway appearance came in 2001 in a revival of “Follies,” the Stephen Sondheim-James Goldman musical. She sang, appropriately, the much-loved anthem “Broadway Baby” — “I don’t need a lot,/Only what I got,/Plus a tube of greasepaint and a follow spot” — nearly 60 years after landing her first Broadway role.


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Always gracious and sweet to her fans.
Mar 13 · Reply
Are her two sons in Show Business?
Mar 13 · Reply
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