The perky, pretty and talented Betty Garrett died on February 13 at the age of 91.
I was surprised to see that she was only in a hand-full of movies, most of which I had seen. But even though Miss Garrett was only in six notable classic movies, the roles and her marriage make her unforgettable in Hollywood history.
Garrett was in what is considered one of Hollywood’s best musicals: “On the Town” (1949). Garrett stars along with Ann Miller, Vera-Ellen, Gene Kelly, Jules Munshin and Frank Sinatra in the film about three sailors on leave in New York. Ann Miller says in a TCM interview that she realized in her “Caveman” dance in the museum, that she had the most impressive group of back-up dancers than any other musical during that time could have.
Garrett plays a plucky, man chasing female cab driver. Garrett is a great singer and dancer but often was typecasted as the man crazy, love hungry female.
In both “On the Town” and “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (1949), Garrett harasses Frank Sinatra (when he was seemingly cute and sweet) for love. In “Neptune’s Daughter” (1948) she chases Red Skeleton. At least Mickey Rooney is the one after her in “Words and Music” (1948).
Though her film career wasn’t as huge as Bette Davis’, Garrett also had stage and TV success; even often appearing on the 1970s television show “Laverne & Shirley.”
One reason Betty Garrett’s career was brief, was due to her husband’s Communist Party ties from 1941 to 1945, according to her New York Times obituary. Her husband, Larry Parks-star of “The Jolson Story“- admitted the ties before the House of Un-American Activities in 1955. The two actors married in 1944 and were married until his death in 1975.
Betty Garrett is one of those actresses who may not have always had the biggest role in a movie-she was fourth billing in “Neptune’s Daughter“- you always remember her from a movie.
She left a mark in Hollywood with her flashing blue eyes, shining curly hair and vivacious singing.
Farewell Ms. Garrett, you will be missed.
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