Birthday: December 18, 1916
Died At Age: 56
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Frances Dean
Born in: St. Louis, Missouri, U.S
Famous as: American actress
Spouse/Ex-: Harry James (m.1943-1965), Jackie Coogan (m.1937-1939)
father: John Conn Grable (1883–1954)
mother: Lillian Rose Hofmann (1889–1964)
children: Jessica James, Victoria Elizabeth James
Died on: July 2, 1973
place of death: Santa Monica, California, U.S
U.S. State: Missouri
epitaphs: Betty Grable James, 1916-1973
Betty Grable was an American actress and dancer once known as the woman with the most beautiful legs in Hollywood. The No.1 pin-up girl of the World War II era, her photograph in a bathing suit pose went on to achieve iconic status and was included in the project "100 Photographs that Changed the World" by the ‘Life’ magazine. The beauty of her legs was so famous that her studio got her legs insured for $1,000,000, giving her the nickname, ‘The girl with the million dollar legs’. The daughter of a highly ambitious woman, Betty was groomed for stardom from a very young age. Her mother bleached her hair and gave her a makeover so that her daughter could make it big in Hollywood. Her first movie appearance was as a Goldwyn Girl in the musical comedy ‘Whoopee!’ Because of her youthful appearance she was soon typecast in movies playing the role of a college student. She became a very successful actress and soon became the highest paid female star in Hollywood. After a string of super hit films like 'Moon over Miami', 'Springtime in the Rockies', and 'Coney Island', she posed for a photograph in her bathing suit showing off her shapely legs—this picture soon achieved iconic status.
Childhood & Early Life
She was born as Elizabeth Ruth Grable to John Conn Grable and Lillian Rose Hofmann. She was the youngest of three children.
Her mother groomed her for a career in show business from an early age. She motivated her daughter to sing, dance and act.
Betty made her debut as a chorus girl in the film ‘Happy Days’ in 1929 when she was 12 years old.
Her mother made her attend the Hollywood Professional School and learned dancing from the Ernest Blecher Academy.
She was chosen for the chorus in ‘Let’s Go Places’. The law at that time required the girls to be over 15 to dance in the chorus. Betty was just 13 but her mother arranged for her false identification papers so that she could perform. However, the deception was found out and she was disqualified.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
In 1930, she made her first film appearance as a Goldwyn Girl in ‘Whoopee!’. She led the opening number, ‘Cowboys’. This was followed by small roles in a number of films over the decade.
She signed a contract with Paramount Pictures in the late 1930s. She appeared in a number of B-movies like ‘Pigskin Parade’ (1936), ‘This Way Please’ (1937), ‘College Swing’ (1938). She played college students in most of these films and was thus typecast in this role.
In was in 1940 that she landed her first leading role—she was chosen to play Glenda Crawford—in the musical film ‘Down Argentine Way’ which also had Don Ameche, Charlotte Greenwood and Carmen Miranda in the star cast.
She played the title role in the musical film, ‘Sweet Rosie O’Grady in 1943. The story was about a singer who hopes for a better future when she marries an English duke. The movie was a big commercial hit.
In 1947, she starred in the highly popular film, ‘Mother Wore Tights’ in which she was cast opposite Dan Dailey. She played a vaudeville performer whose daughter is embarrassed of her mother’s profession. It was one of the highest grossing films of that year.
She played Ruby Summers in the ‘Wabash Avenue’ in 1950. The film was a remake of the 1943 film ‘Coney island’. She portrayed a burlesque queen in a dance hall in Chicago.
Her 1951 film ‘Meet Me After the Show’ was one of the last musicals she appeared in. The movie was about a Broadway actress who is so successful that her husband considers her more of an asset than a wife.
She starred along with Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall as gold-diggers in the 1953 romantic comedy ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’. The screenplay was based upon two plays by Zoe Akins and Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert.
Her final movie appearance was in the 1955 comedy ‘How to Be Very, Very Popular’ which was produced and directed by Nunnally Johnson. The plot revolved around two showgirls who witness the murder of their fellow performer but do not want to get involved in the investigation.
The musical ‘Mother Wore Tights’ is considered her signature film. She starred along with Dan Dailey as married vaudeville performers whose children are embarrassed of their parents’ profession. The film was a commercial super hit and earned more than $5 million at the box office.
Personal Life & Legacy
She tied the knot with actor Jackie Coogan in 1937 and divorced him in 1939. Her second marriage was to trumpeter Harry James in 1943. The couple had two daughters. After enduring a difficult marriage plagued by alcoholism and infidelity, the couple divorced in 1965.
She was in a relationship with the much younger dancer Bob Remick which lasted till her death.
She suffered from lung cancer and died of the disease in 1973.