BETTY HUTTON Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Betty Hutton                                                                     
Birth name: Elizabeth June Thornburg                                                   
Born: 26 February 1921 Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.                                     
Died: 11 March 2007 Palm Springs, California, U.S.                                     
Betty Hutton (born Elizabeth June Thornburg, February 26, 1921 – March 11, 2007)     
was an American film actress and singer.                                               
She began life as Elizabeth June Thornburg, a daughter of railroad foreman Percy       
E. Thornburg (1896-1939) and his wife, the former Mabel Lum (1901-1967). Her           
father abandoned the family for another woman and they did not hear from or see         
him again until they received a telegram, in 1939, informing them of his death         
from suicide. Betty was raised by her mother, who took the surname Hutton, along       
with her sister, Marion, and was later billed as the actress Sissy Jones. The           
three started singing in the family's speakeasy when Betty was 3 years old.             
Related troubles with the police kept the family on the move, and eventually           
they moved to Detroit. When interviewed as an established star appearing at the         
premiere of Let's Dance (1950), her mother — arriving with her, and following a       
police escort — 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, where she was rejected.                       
A few years later, she was scouted by orchestra leader Vincent Lopez, who gave         
Hutton her entry into entertainment. In 1939, she appeared in several musical           
shorts for Warner Bros., and appeared on Broadway in Panama Hattie and Two for         
the Show, both produced by Buddy DeSylva.                                               
When DeSylva became a producer at Paramount Pictures, Hutton was signed to a           
featured role in The Fleet's In (1942) which starred Paramount's number one             
female star Dorothy Lamour. Hutton made an instant impact with the moviegoing           
public but Paramount did not immediately promote her to major stardom, giving           
her second leads in a Mary Martin musical and another Lamour film before casting       
Betty as Bob Hope's leading lady in Let's Face It (1943). Following the release         
of The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), Betty was indisputably a major star and       
with the release of Incendiary Blonde (1945), Hutton had supplanted Lamour as           
Paramount's number one female box office attraction.                                   
Hutton made 19 films in 11 years, from 1942 to 1952 including a hugely popular         
The Perils of Pauline in 1947. She was billed over Fred Astaire in the 1950             
musical Let's Dance. Hutton's greatest screen triumph was Annie Get Your Gun for       
MGM, which hired Hutton to replace an exhausted Judy Garland in the role of             
Annie Oakley. The film and the leading role, retooled for Hutton, was a smash           
hit, with the biggest critical praise going to Betty (her obituary in The New           
York Times described her as "a brassy, energetic performer with a voice that           
could sound like a fire alarm") but Hutton, like Garland, was earning a                 
reputation for being extremely difficult.                                               
In 1944, she signed with Capitol Records, one of the first artists to do so, but       
was unhappy with their management, and later signed with RCA Victor. Among her         
many films was an unbilled cameo in Sailor Beware (1952) with Dean Martin and           
Jerry Lewis, in which she portrayed Dean's girlfriend, Hetty Button. Her time as       
a Hollywood star came to an end due to contract disagreements with Paramount           
following The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) and Somebody Loves Me (1952), a             
biopic of singer Blossom Seeley. The New York Times indicated that her film             
career ended because of her insistence that her husband at the time, Charles O'Curran, 
direct her next film; when the studio declined, Hutton broke her contract. Betty's     
last completed film was a small one, 1957's Spring Reunion. She gave an                 
understated, sensitive performance in the drama; box office receipts showed the         
public didn't accept a subdued Hutton.                                                 
Hutton worked in radio, appeared in Las Vegas and in nightclubs, then tried her         
luck on the new medium of television. An original musical TV "spectacular"             
written especially for Hutton, Satin 'n Spurs (1954), was an enormous flop with         
the public and critics, despite being one of the first television programs             
televised nationally by NBC in compatible color. Desilu Productions took a             
chance on Hutton and in 1959 gave her a sitcom The Betty Hutton Show, which             
quickly faded. Renewed interest in Betty was generated in a well-publicized "Love-In   
for Betty Hutton" held at New York City's Riverboat Restaurant, emceed by               
comedian Joey Adams, with several old Hollywood pals on hand. The 1974 event           
raised $10,000 (USD) for Betty and gave her spirits a big boost. Steady work,           
unfortunately, still eluded her. Her last TV outings were an interview with Mike       
Douglas and a brief guest appearance in 1975 on Baretta.                               
In 1967, she was signed to star in two low-budget Westerns for Paramount, but           
was fired shortly after the projects began. Afterwards, Hutton had trouble with         
alcohol and substance abuse, eventually attempting suicide after losing her             
singing voice in 1970, and having a nervous breakdown. She divorced her fourth         
husband, jazz trumpeter Pete Candoli, and declared herself bankrupt. However,           
after regaining control of her life through a church, she converted to Roman           
Catholicism and went on to teach acting and to cook at a rectory in Rhode Island.       
On Broadway, she temporarily replaced a hospitalized Carol Burnett in Fade Out -       
Fade In in 1964 and followed Dorothy Loudon as the evil Miss Hannigan in Annie         
in 1980. Her last known performance in any medium was on Jukebox Saturday Night,       
which aired on PBS in 1983. Robert Osborne interviewed her for TCM's Private           
Screenings in April 2000; the interview first aired on July 18, 2000. The               
program was rerun as a memorial on the evening of her death.                           
The actress's first marriage was to camera manufacturer Ted Briskin on September       
3, 1945; they divorced in 1950. Two daughters were born to the couple, Lindsay         
Diane Briskin (born 1946) and Candice Elizabeth Briskin (born 1948). Ted Briskin       
had a brief 21-day marriage to Joan Dixon after this divorce. He died in 1980 in       
Los Angeles.                                                                           
Hutton's second marriage was in 1952 to choreographer Charles O'Curran, and they       
divorced in 1955; he died in 1984.                                                     
Her third marriage was in 1955 to Alan W. Livingston, an executive with Capitol         
Records, who had created Bozo the Clown; they divorced five years later,               
although some accounts refer to this as a nine-month marriage.                         
Her fourth and final marriage was in 1960 to jazz trumpeter Pete Candoli, who           
was born in 1923, a brother of Conte Candoli. Hutton and Candoli had one child,         
Carolyn Candoli (born 1962) and then divorced in 1967 (although some accounts           
place the year as 1964).                                                               
Hutton lived near Palm Springs, California until her death due to complications         
from colon cancer at 86 years of age. Carl Bruno, executor of her estate and a         
long-term friend, told the Associated Press that she died on the evening of             
Sunday, March 11, 2007. Hutton is buried at Desert Memorial Park in Palm Springs,       
California. None of her three daughters attended the funeral.