Betty Grable Edit Profile
Educated at Mary Institute, St. Louis, Children’s Professional School, Hollywood, and by private tutors. Studied dancing in Los Angeles.
The importance of the moment in certain careers is perfectly demonstrated by Betty Grable. For ten years she had labored away at glamour without really rising above supporting parts. She began as a very young chorine, and after Let’s Go Places (29, Frank Strayer) and Whoopee! (30, Thornton Freeland), Samuel Goldwyn signed her up and changed her name to Frances Dean. She had small parts in Palmy Days (31, Edward Sutherland) and The Kiel from Spain (32, Leo McCarey), before RKO used her as an ingenue in musicals and comedies: The Gay Divorcee (34, Mark Sandrich); The Nitwits (35, George Stevens); Follow the Fleet (36, Sandrich); and Pigskin Parade (36, David Butler). RKO dropped her and she went briefly into variety with her new husband, fackie Coogan. Paramount called her back to replace Shirley Ross in This Way Please (37, Robert Florey), and she stayed at the studio for College Swing (38, Raoul Walsh); Give Me a Sailor (38, Elliott Nugent); and Man About Town (39, Sandrich).
Yet again she was dropped. But after some stage work, Fox asked her to replace a sick Alice Faye in Down Argentine Way (40, living Cummings). At last she was the leggy centerpiece of boisterous. Technicolor musicals: Tin Pan Alley (40. Walter Lang); Moon Over Miami (41, Lang); Song of the Islands (42, Lang); Springtime in the Rockies (42, Cummings); Coney Island (43, Lang); Sweet Rosie O'Grady (43, Cummings); and Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe (45, George Seaton).
After the war, she kept a brave face against changed tastes: The Dolly Sisters (46, Cummings) and Mother Wore Tights (47. Lang). She flopped in a straight role—That Lady in Ermine (48, Otto Preminger and Ernst Lubitsch)—the first since A Yank in the RAF (41,1 lenry King) and I Wake Up Screaming (41, Humberstone). Her last few years at Fox were spent waiting for some new blonde goddess: When My Baby Smiles at Me (48, Lang); My Blue Heaven (50, Henry Koster); Wabash Avenue (50, Koster); Call Me Mister (51, Lloyd Bacon); and The Farmer Takes a Wife (53, Henrv Levin). Marilyn Monroe settled her fate. They were together in How to Marry a Millionaire (53, Jean Negulesco), after which Grable made only two films—How to Be Very, Very Popular (55, Nunnally Johnson) and Three for the Show (55, H. C. Potter).
There is something touching in The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend (49, Preston Sturges) about the way supporting characters persist in remarking on Betty Grables lovely shape and the remorseless ingenuity with which the plot uncovers her legs. Her huge wartime fame was all based on leggy virtuosity and her verv good-natured, long-distance sexiness, and Pin-Up Girl (44, Bruce Humberstone) was a tribute to the taste of GIs everywhere. Did she really recur in the dreams of frightened men on Pacific atolls as the blonde looking over her shoulder at the boys supposedly ogling the backs of her knees? She was brassy, energetic, and amused, but her body was too pert to be disturbing, too thoroughly healthy to be interesting.
Married Jackie Coogan, November 20, 1937 (divorced). Married second, Harry Haag James, July 5, 1943 (divorced). Children: Victoria Elizabeth, Jessica.