Betty Grable (December 18, 1916 – July 2, 1973) was an American dancer, singer, and actress.
Her iconic bathing suit photo made her the number-one pin-up girl of the World War II era. It was later included in the Life magazine project "100 Photos that Changed the World". Grable was particularly noted for having the most beautiful legs in Hollywood and studio publicity widely dispersed photos featuring them. Hosiery specialists of the era often noted the ideal proportions of her legs as: thigh (18.5") calf (12"), and ankle (7.5"). Grable's legs were famously insured by her studio for $1,000,000 with Lloyds of London.
She was born Elizabeth Ruth Grable in St. Louis, Missouri to John Conn Grable (1883-1954) and Lillian Rose Hofmann (1889-1964). She was the youngest of three children.
Most of Grable's immediate ancestors were American, but her distant heritage was of Dutch, Irish, German and English stock. She was propelled into the acting profession by her mother. For her first role, as a chorus girl in the film Happy Days (1929), Grable was only 12 years old (legally underage for acting), but, because the chorus line performed in blackface, it was impossible to tell how old she was. Her mother soon gave her a make-over which included dyeing her hair platinum blonde.
For her next film, her mother got her a contract using a false identification. When this deception was discovered, however, Grable was fired. Grable finally obtained a role as a 'Goldwyn Girl' in Whoopee! (1930), starring Eddie Cantor. Though Grable received no billing, she led the opening number, "Cowboys." Grable then worked in small roles at different studios for the rest of the decade, including the Academy Award-winning The Gay Divorcee (1934), starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, where she was prominently featured in the number "Let's K-nock K-nees".
In 1939, Grable appeared with her then husband, Jackie Coogan (married in 1937), in Million Dollar Legs, from which her nickname is taken. They divorced later that same year (October 1939).
After small parts in over 50 Hollywood movies theough the 1930s, Grable finally gained national attention for her stage role in the Cole Porter Broadway hit Du Barry Was a Lady (1939).
In 1940, she gained a contract with 20th Century Fox, becoming their top star during the decade. Grable appeared in Technicolor movies such as Down Argentine Way (1940), Moon Over Miami (1941) (both with Don Ameche), Springtime in The Rockies (1942), Coney Island (1943) with George Montgomery, Sweet Rosie O'Grady (1943) with Robert Young, Pin Up Girl (1944), Diamond Horseshoe (1945) with Dick Haymes, The Dolly Sisters (1945) with John Payne and June Haver. Mother Wore Tights (1947), her most popular film, was with her favorite costar, Dan Dailey.
It was during her reign as box office queen (in 1943) that Grable posed for her famous pinup photo, which (along with her movies) soon became escapist fare among GIs fighting in World War II. The image was taken by studio photographer Frank Powolny. It was rumored that the particular pose and angle were chosen to hide the fact that Grable was pregnant at the time of the photo. Starting in 1942, Grable was named in the top 10 box office draws for 10 consecutive years. For seven of those ten years, she was top female-box office star. In 1943, she was named the #1 movie box office attraction. By the end of the 1940s Grable was the highest-paid female star in Hollywood, receiving $300,000 a year.
Grable was the heroine of a novel, Betty Grable and the House with the Iron Shutters, written by Kathryn Heisenfelt, published by Whitman Publishing Company in 1943. "While the heroine is identified as a famous actress, the stories are entirely fictitious." The story was probably written for a young teenage audience and is reminiscent of the adventures of Nancy Drew. It is part of a series known as "Whitman Authorized Editions", 16 books published between 1941-1947 that featured a film actress as heroine.
Her postwar musicals included: That Lady in Ermine (1948) with Douglas Fairbanks Jr., When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948) again with Dailey, Wabash Avenue (1950) (a remake of Grable's own Coney Island) with Victor Mature, My Blue Heaven (1950), and Meet Me After the Show (1951). Studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck lavished his star with expensive Technicolor films, but also kept her busy — Grable made nearly 25 musicals and comedies in 13 years. Her last big hit for Fox was How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) with Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe. Grable next starred in Three for the Show (1955) with Jack Lemmon; this film was one of her last musicals.
Grable's later career was marked by feuds with studio heads. At one point, in the middle of a fight with Zanuck, she tore up her contract and stormed out of his office. By 1953, Zanuck was grooming Marilyn Monroe to replace Grable as the Fox's resident sex symbol. Far from feeling threatened, on the set of How to Marry a Millionaire Grable famously said to Monroe, "go and get yours, honey! I've had mine". It was at this point that Grable lost her father 'Conn' Grable in 1954, at age 71.
Grable returned to the studio for one last film, How to be Very, Very Popular (1955) with Sheree North. Following this, Grable hoped to secure the role of Miss Adelaide in the film version of the musical Guys and Dolls. However, when producer Samuel Goldwyn learned that Grable skipped a meeting with him because one of her dogs had taken ill, he became incensed and removed her from consideration. Vivian Blaine, who had originated the role on Broadway, was ultimately cast.
Having left movies entirely, she made the transition to television and starred in Las Vegas. It was in these transition years to stage, when Betty lost her mother Lillian in 1964, at age 75. By 1967, she took over the lead in the touring company of Hello, Dolly!. She starred in a 1969 musical called Belle Starr in London, but it was savaged by critics and soon folded.
Grable's last role was Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday, at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida in February, 1973.
In 1937, Grable married another famous former child-actor, Jackie Coogan. He was under considerable stress from a lawsuit against his parents over his childhood earnings and therefore the couple divorced in 1939.
In 1943, she married trumpeter and big band leader Harry James. The couple had two daughters, Victoria and Jessica. They endured a tumultuous 22-year marriage that was plagued by alcoholism and infidelity. The couple divorced in 1965. Grable entered into a relationship with a dancer, Bob Remick, several years her junior. Though they did not marry, their romance lasted until the end of Grable's life.
Grable died July 2, 1973, of lung cancer at age 56 in Santa Monica, California. Her funeral was held July 5, 1973, 30 years to the day after her marriage to Harry James — who, in turn, died on what would have been his and Grable's 40th anniversary, July 5, 1983. She was interred in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California, in the Mausoleum of the Golden West, Sanctuary of Dawn section, with her mother Lillian, alongside her father 'Conn' Grable. Sister Marjorie Grable-Arnold joined them in their family crypt, after her death at 71, in 1980.
Among the Who's Who of Hollywood attending her funeral were Harry James, Dorothy Lamour, Shirley Booth, Mitzi Gaynor, Johnnie Ray, Cesar Romero, George Raft, Alice Faye and Dan Dailey. "I Had the Craziest Dream," the haunting ballad Betty introduced in "Springtime in the Rockies" was played on the church organ.
Grable has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6525 Hollywood Boulevard. She also has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 2009.
Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy noted on National Public Radio's Morning Edition on April 23, 2007, in an interview with Terry Gross that Grable was his inspiration for founding the Playboy empire.
Robert George Young (February 22, 1907 – July 21, 1998) was an American actor, best known for his leading roles of Jim Anderson, the father of Father Knows Best (NBC and then CBS) and physician Marcus Welby in Marcus Welby, M.D. (ABC).
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Young was the son of an Irish immigrant father (Thomas E. Young) and an American mother (Margaret Fife). When Young was a child, the family moved to Seattle and then to Los Angeles where he attended Abraham Lincoln High School. After graduation, he studied and performed at the Pasadena Playhouse while working odd jobs and appearing in bit parts in silent films. While touring with a stock company production of The Ship, Young was discovered by an MGM talent scout and signed to a contract. He made his sound film debut for MGM in the 1931 Charlie Chan film Black Camel.
In spite of having a "tier B" status, he co-starred with some of the studio's most illustrious actresses such as Margaret Sullavan, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes, Luise Rainer, and Helen Twelvetrees, among many others. Yet most of his assignments comprised B-movies, also known as programmers, which required a mere two to three weeks of shooting. Actors who were relegated to such a hectic schedule appeared, as Young did, in some six to eight movies per year.
As an MGM contract player, Young was resigned to the fate of most of his colleagues—to accept any film assigned to him or risk being placed on suspension—and many actors on suspension were prohibited from earning a salary from any endeavor at all (even those unrelated to the film industry). In 1936, MGM summarily loaned Young to Gaumont-British for two films; the first was directed by Alfred Hitchcock with the other co-starring Jessie Matthews, and while there he surmised that his employers intended to terminate his contract. But he was mistaken.
He unexpectedly received one of his most rewarding roles late in his MGM career, in H.M. Pulham, Esq., featuring one of Hedy Lamarr's rarely lauded performances, and once remarked that he was assigned only those roles which Robert Montgomery and other A-list actors had rejected.
After his contract at MGM ended, Young starred in light comedies as well as in trenchant dramas for studios such as 20th Century Fox, United Artists, and RKO. From 1943, Young assayed more challenging roles in the films, Claudia, The Enchanted Cottage, They Won't Believe Me, The Second Woman, and Crossfire, among many others. His portrayal of unsympathetic characters in several of these latter films — which seldom occurred in his MGM pictures — was applauded by numerous reviewers.
In spite of a propitious beginning as a freelance actor without the nurturing of a major studio, Young's career began an incremental and imperceptible decline. Still starring as a leading man in the late 1940s and early 1950s but in mediocre films, he subsequently disappeared from the silver screen, only to reappear several years later on a much smaller one. Young appeared in 100 movies in a film career that spanned from 1931 to 1952.
Young is best known for his role in Father Knows Best (1949-1954 on radio, 1954-1960 on television), for which he and his co-star, Jane Wyatt, won several Emmy Awards. Young then created, produced, and starred with Ford Rainey and Constance Moore in the nostalgia CBS comedy series Window on Main Street (1961–1962) which only lasted six months.
Young later became famous for Marcus Welby, M.D. (1969–1976), which co-starred a young James Brolin, for which he won an Emmy for best leading actor in a drama series. Young became so well identified with his wise doctor persona that he became famous as the commercial spokesman for an aspirin product, saying, "I'm not a doctor but I play one on TV", while wearing a lab coat. He continued making television commercials until the late 1980s.
Young was married to Betty Henderson from 1933 until her death in 1994. They had four daughters.
Despite the fact that he portrayed happy, well-adjusted characters, Young suffered from depression and alcoholism, which contributed to his suicide attempt in 1991. Afterwards he spoke candidly about his problems in an effort to encourage people to seek help with their own. The Robert Young Center for Community Mental Health, an affiliate of Trinity Regional Health System, located in Rock Island, Illinois, is a comprehensive community mental health center. It is named after Young for his work with passage of the 708 Illinois Tax Referendum.
Young died at his home in Westlake Village, California at 91 from respiratory failure. He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in Glendale, California. Young has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for film at 6933 Hollywood Blvd and one for television at 6358.
Photograph is from the 1943 movie, Sweet Rosie O'Grady and was Hand Oil Tinted by Artist Margaret A. Rogers.