Betty Grable was a beloved actress who won hearts over with her beautiful smile, gorgeous "gams," and wonderful friendliness. From the first time she acted at 12 years old until she passed away, she was always quick to bring a smile to her fans! This beloved actress was taken much too young, so we’re taking the chance to look back at her life and learn even more about this amazing woman.
Elizabeth Ruth Grable was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on December 18, 1916. She was the youngest child of stockbroker John Charles Grable and his wife, Lillian Rose. Her mother nicknamed her Betty and pressured her to become a performer. Lillian was often viewed as materialistic and stubborn, and so she forced Betty into beauty contests and acting, despite Betty’s fear of crowds.
When Betty was 12 years old, the stock market crash drove Lillian to take her daughter to Hollywood to try and make money as a star. They lied about her age, telling casting agents that she was 15, and she was able to land jobs as a chorus girl in films such as "Happy Days," "Let’s Go Places," and "New Movietone Follies of the 1930s." Unfortunately, she was later fired from a contract when the executives found out that she'd lied about her age.
She rose to fame after taking a role in the 1939 Broadway musical, "DuBarry Was A Lady," and was then snapped up by 20th Century-Fox who offered her a long-term contract. At Fox, she went on to star in a wide variety of musicals with Victor Mature, John Payne, and Tyrone Power. Her work in "How To Marry A Millionaire" and "Mother Wore Tights" were widely accepted as her biggest successes. In 1947, the United States Treasury named her the highest paid woman, earning more than $3 million during her career.
Betty was married twice during her life, and both marriages, sadly, failed. Her first marriage was to Jackie Coogan, a former child star. At the time of their marriage, Jackie was stuck in a legal battle with his parents over the money he’d earned as a child. It placed a lot of stress on the marriage, eventually leading to their divorce. Her second marriage was to Harry James, a trumpeter. They had two daughters together, Victoria Elizabeth and Jessica. Their 22-year marriage was rough and full of problems. Soon after their divorce, she began a relationship with a dancer named Bob Remick, with whom she remained until she passed away in 1973.
Betty passed away at 56 years old on July 2, 1973, in Los Angeles, California. She passed away from lung cancer, which was made all the sadder due to the fact that she had been the model for Chesterfield cigarettes. Her funeral was a big event, attended by many Hollywood stars, such as Dan Dailey, Dorothy Lamour, Shirley Booth, and Cesar Romero. Betty was taken much too soon, and we only wish we’d had her around for years to come!