Sunday, February 13, 2011

Betty Garrett R.I.P.

Comedic actress Betty Garrett passed on 12 February 2011 at the age of 91. The cause was an aortic aneurysm.

Betty Garrett was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on 23 May 1919. She displayed talent while still young, enough that in 1936 a friend of her family arranged for her to meet dancer Martha Graham. It was Miss Graham who recommended Miss Garrett for a scholarship at the Neighbourhood Playhouse in New York City.

Betty Garrett performed n the Borscht Belt and was later an under study with the Mercury Theatre. In 1942 Miss Garrett made her debut on Broadway in the revue Of V I Sing. She appeared on Broadway several more times in her career, in such plays as Something for the Boys (1943), Bells Are Ringing (1959), Beg, Borrow, or Steal (1960), Meet Me in St. Louis (1980), and a revival of Follies (2001).

Betty Garrett made her film debut in Big City in 1948. She would go onto appear in the films Words and Music (1948), Take Me Out to the Ball Game (1949), Neptune's Daughter (1949), and On the Town (1949). Her Hollywood career would be interrupted when her husband Larry Parks became a victim of the black list. The couple toured Britain and performed on stage. She returned to film in 1955 with My Sister Eileen. She would go on to appear in the movies The Shadow on the Window (1957), Trail of the Screaming Forehead (2007) and Dark and Stormy Night (2009).

Aside from her roles in such classic films as Take Me Out to the Ball Game and On the Town, Miss Garrett may have been best known to audiences for her work on television. She made her television debut in an episode of The Ford Television Theatre in 1955. From 1973 to 1975 she would be a semi-regular on All in the Family, playing the Bunkers' neighbour Irene Lorenzo. From 1976 to 1981 she was a regular on Laverne and Shirley as Edna. Over the years she guest starred on such shows as The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Lloyd Bridges Show, The Fugitive, Mr. Merlin, Murder She Wrote, Harts of the West, Boston Public, and Becker.

Betty Garrett was a truly wonderful and talented actress. She was fairly good dancer and a very good singer, but her special gift was comedy. Few actresses could deliver a line as well as her or possessed her talent for timing. Indeed, if all Miss Garrett had ever done was play cabbie Brunhilde Esterhazy in On the Town she would be worthy remembering. Fortunately, she did much more.

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