Betty Grable in an undated publicity shot.
Betty Grable’s one of those people—a long list—I’d love to write a book about, but can’t. Her daughters were really nice, but said “we just don’t want to go through all that again,” having dealt with some pretty sleazy writers. I totally understand and told them I wouldn’t bother them again, but of course any book I’d do without them would be half-assed, and I like my books to be fully assed.
But I do adore Betty. She was one of the top song-and-dance gals of her generation; she could sing like Dinah Shore, dance like Ginger Rogers, and she was considerably cuter than a bug’s ear. She was no great shakes as a dramatic actress, but she knew it and put a halt to it after two serious films (the main thing I love about I Wake Up Screaming is the ads, which read “I Wake Up Screaming with Betty Grable!”).
Here is 14-year-old Betty leading the chorus in Whoopee!
Betty may not as been as sweet and self-deprecating and “everybody’s pal” as rumor has it—I never did do any real research on her. But she comes across as a sweetheart, one of those movie stars you’d love to have lunch or go shopping with.
Here she is at the height of her fame, in Footlight Serenade (1942) singing and dancing up a storm. Maybe the James girls will change their mind someday, and I can really tell Betty’s story.