How could she go from the biggest box-office star, at one time, to living in a tiny apartment, and dying alone, and broke, in Palm Springs ?
She was fine during WWII when Americans relaxed their standards but after the crisis was over....
She was already losing her looks by the time she was in How to Marry a Millionaire. She just didn't age well and probably stopped getting cast in productions.
Betty Hutton was NOT in "HTMAM". Check your facts.
I think the medical term was the bitch was nutz.
My mom sez she was nutjob
It was because she was miscast in "Annie Get your Gun".
She was a housekeeper in a church rectory for a few years.
Remember the DLer who was in contact with BH, and passed along good wishes to her from the board shortly before she died?
Or did I dream that?
It was Betty Grable in HTMAM, she could never, ever be confused with Betty Hutton.
They replaced Judy Garland with Betty Hutton in AGYG and Betty Hutton could never, ever be confused with Judy Garland.
Plus, Betty Hutton sucked as an actress. She mugged and crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue and screamed her lines. Blech.
The DLer was one of her caretakers, wasn't he?
Say what you will, but I'm a fan based solely on The Miracle of Morgan's Creek.
The official story is that Betty Hutton tried to railroad the execs at Paramount into making her boyfriend a director. They gave her the heave-ho instead. That made her poison to the other studios at a time when the film industry was in a major recession thanks to television.
She tried live television with a "spectacular" called SATINS AND SPURS. She was said to have behaved like a raging egotist during the making of it. The show was poorly received and came to be seen as a coffin nail in her career.
Five years later Lucy and Desi gave her one last shot with a sit-com but it failed to catch on.
Isn't Neely O' Hara based on Hutton ? I know people always mention Neely's Hutton, and Helen Lawson is Merman. Supposedly, the whole cutting the song bit really happened when Hutton was in "Panama Hattie", with the Merm starring, and Betty had a number that stopped the show. Once the Merm saw that, she had the song cut.
You can see 4 episodes of Betty's sit-com at the following link.
Was "Satins and Spurs" being parodied in the awful Western Neely was doing when she pulls her bonnet/wig off? "It's too hot!", howl. They made it look like her last hurrah before the end and she punches out the director too.
Merman did not order Hutton's songs cut from PANAMA HATTIE. The critics in both preview cities wrote that Hutton was fun but exhausting and that less of her would be more. The producers agreed and cut two of her four songs in NYC. Her producer/boyfriend pledged to take her to Hollywood to make it up to her.
Hutton was a partial model for Neely O'Hara whereas Helen Lawson was Ethel Merman through and through.
OP, the answer you seek is right in front of you.
Have you ever tried to sit thru any of Hutton's films? With the possible exception of "Miracle of Morgan's Creek", she is exhausting to watch - she's over-caffeinated, over-energetic, a "vitamin pill on Legs" (Bob Hope), practically suffering from Tourette's on-screen, and it is impossible to sit thru her films without wanting to scream out "Take a Xanax!"
While that spunk and energy was a morale-booster during WWII, after the war audiences wanted their stars to be a little "cooler", more sophisticated (they wanted new stars like Bacall and Ava Gardner), and Hutton couldn't adjust. Plus her pictures cost a lot to make (musicals, technicolor, big casts) and they stopped making back their money as the 40s turned into the 50s - remember the line in "Sunset Blvd." when Holden goes looking for work - "Got anything for Hutton? We're always looking for a Hutton picture." Besides, by the late 40s Paramount had a new cash cow who worked cheap and whose pictures made tons more than Hutton's - Martin & Lewis. And the story about her wanting her husband/choreographer Charles O'Curran to be her director is also true. (When the deal fell thru, O'Curran divorced Hutton and married the 50s biggest singing star, Patti Page, and ended up choreographing Elvis Presley's movies.) With all these negatives, the head of Paramount decided not to renew her contract, and when she raised a stink, he got her blacklisted by the other studios.
All this plus her raging ego and an addiction to pills made her unemployable, first in Hollywood, then on TV and then in live theater.
When she hit bottom, she was saved by a priest who got her a job working as a housekeeper at his rectory, which is where LIFE magazine famously found her in 1970 (20 years after leaving Paramount).
As for her children not coming to the funeral, she had been estranged from them for many years - they never got over the fact that she was a bad mother. She did love her kids, but they felt that she had always neglected them, first for her career, and then for Christ. A sad choice, but understandable.
And yes, I am the poster who knew her before her death and posted greetings from her before she died in 2007.
Trudy Kockenlocker is my favorite film-character name of all time!
I can laugh just saying it.
Preston Sturges was such a fucking genius.
Trudy Kockenlocker Ratzski-Watzski, or something like that.
Thank you for sharing that, R24. I sent Betty a card when you gave us her address. It was the only fan letter of any kind I have ever written.
But what happened to her money?
r 24 Thank you for that. It really explains alot, and was very thoughtfully, and intelligently written. I have only seen 1 of her films, "The Greatest Show on Earth", and a great clip of the musical #, "Murder She Says", which she is adorable, and amazing in. Also thought she was underated doing ballads - everyone loved her up songs, but she had a beautiful singing voice. Anyway, thanks for explaining.
There was an amazing interview Robert Osborne did with her on TCM just a little while before she died. Is a clip of that available? I remember him being very forthright and honest with her about her failings.
Cornel Wilde's spangly tights
Paramount had a thing for frantic female comedy belters. They dumped Martha Raye in 1940 for Hutton, and then even had the ugly-as-sin Cass Daley under contract for a spell the same time as Hutton.
Judy Canova made a few Paramount films in the '30s and '40s, but her humor was country cornball.
I think Neely O'Hara was more based on Judy Garland. In the book they kept mentioning her fabulous singing voice which is what got her to Hollywood and her whole persona seemed to mimic Garland. Betty Hutton was no great singer; in fact she was pretty forgettable overall. I agree she was an annoying, over the top actress.
[quote]she is exhausting to watch - she's over-caffeinated, over-energetic, a "vitamin pill on Legs" (Bob Hope), practically suffering from Tourette's on-screen, and it is impossible to sit thru her films without wanting to scream out "Take a Xanax!"
She became addicted to pills, both uppers and downers IIRC.
R24- Didn't Betty take over for Carol Burnett when the latter was out of Fade Out Fade In on Broadway? Apparently Burnett was in a cab accident and messed up her neck and was unable to perform. She was later sued by the producers for taking too much sick time.Am I wrong in thinking that Hutton was brought in as a temporary replacement?
I've got a bootleg copy of ANNIE when Hutton played Miss Hannigan. She was good. I think she did the show for three weeks.
R31 I always thought it was solely Garland until I read more about Hutton and realized that some of the details (firing from the Broadway show, live TV disaster) were based on Hutton.
It's too bad that her film career was curtailed. In one of her last films, SOMEBODY LOVES ME she shows a more sophisticated sexy persona. And because it was right after she'd had vocal surgery, she doesn't resort to shouting and screaming.
Her variety show appearances from the 1960s are so painful because they feel so dated and she's trying so hard to recapture the manic energy of the past without the voice to do it.
Betty Hutton did not suck as an actress. She was a comedienne with an expansive style and a youthful energy very much of her era. She was also a great musical comedy talent of a style that ceased to exist in a century in which musical performance styles changed continually. She could not make a transition to a mature style on stage as well as Martha Raye or Carol Channing and she had some mental health problems and, as I have heard, difficulties with her daughters. A sad end to a major career.
"Betty Hutton did not suck as an actress."
YES, she did. She was one-note and unbearable.
And her career sure as hell wasn't "major." Her one success was "Annie Get Your Gun" and that was IT.
I personally couldn't stand her in AGYG. She was contantly mugging and gyrating and screaming in that movie; it was like she was mentally challenged. I couldn't believe for a minute that a big, handsome man like Howard Keel would fall in love with such a crazy bitch.
I just wanted to say that R2 is an unmitigated idiot. Please don't post on the Datalounge anymore. Thanks. I feel better.
[quote]Bernadette Peters who played Dainty June.
Peters understudied for June. According to Peters at a Hwd Bowl Sondheim concert, her mother put that in for some reason I can't remember.
Reardless of all the above, I still like Betty Hutton. Her crazy songs from the 40s like "Murder, He Says," "Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing in a Hurry," etc. can still make me smile. And she really could sing a ballad when she wanted too--I think it was because she sometimes let her sadness come through in her ballad singing. Too bad that her later years were so unhappy.
: Yes, Betty did replace Carol in Fade Out, Fade In. Dorothy Kilgallen reported that Betty said mid-performance "where are we in this cockamamie script?" She was that under-rehearsed.
Also remember in the 1970s Betty doing a gig at the Riverboat, a super club, which was in the Empire State Building--street level, 34th Street side.
I'll always regret not having gone to see Hutton play Hannigan.
There is a clip of her on youtube performing in 1983 and she is in fine form. If she could have kept the "cray cray at bay" better and dealt with her demons better, she could have had a fine second act, a nightclub/cabaret career along the lines of Rosemary Clooney. She had the nostalgia factor down pat. The aging fraus would have come out in droves. Betty was a part of their youth.
R41: I also recall that Riverboat gig. Earl Wilson was flogging it endlessly in his newspaper column and called it "A Love-in for Betty Hutton" inasmuch as it was her temporary return from obscurity (and the Rhode Island rectory). I clipped all the newspaper clippings and photos from the Post's coverage of it.
I posted this story on the last quarterly Betty Hutton thread. I found it on imdb. It sounds like the most fascinating train wreck.
[quote]And her career sure as hell wasn't "major." Her one success was "Annie Get Your Gun" and that was IT.
She had a major role in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" which won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1952. She made over a dozen movies, most of which were successful if forgettable. One of them, "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" is an undisputed comic classic.
MIRACLE is also the only Hutton film where she doesn't sing.
Betty Hutton is responsible for Barbara Walters father going bankrupt!
Betty Hutton was BI-POLAR. That's it.
"Betty Hutton sucked as an actress. She mugged and crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue and screamed her lines."
In addition, that kind of schitck does not age well.
There is/was an interview floating around on YouTube from the late '70s or early '80s with Betty and her daughters - they had briefly reunited around this time - and it's obvious how completely self-involved Betty was. She likely suffered from BPD and it's nearly impossible to have any kind of relationship with someone like that.
I imagine her kids finally decided they just couldn't deal with her anymore. It's sad, but there comes a point when enough is enough.
Her very brazen quality was exactly what was called for during WWII in the era of Rosie the Riveter.
Her version of "It's Oh So Quiet" -- halfway through it, you're grumbling "Jesus, woman -- can you pull it back a little?" It's just grating.
After the nervous breakdown, she atoned for her sins by scrubbing floors with Ann B. Davis for Dolores Hart from what I recall.
Fascinating thread. And I knew nothing about her before reading this.
R51 is right. Betty was a perfect WWII "spunky" all-American type girl with all that zip, zing, vim, vigor, energy, "pow, right in the kisser" kind of schtick that helped with wartime morale. It was completely over the top but did sort of define the "American spirit" in a way. America had The Andrew Sisters for music, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth for pin-ups and girls like Judy Garland and Betty Hutton who were the "girls we were fighting for. The girls next door. The girls back home." Betty was just ramped up about twenty notches. Judy was the sweet "Betsy Booth" or "Esther Smith" type girl. At least her image.
I think not enough is said about the fact that, even with Betty's poor career decisions and bi-polar personality, that the mood and energy of the country simply shifted post-war and her style of performing fell out of favor. It took a few years but we had a much different country/zeitgeist by the early 50's than we did in 1945. Films were different. Film noir was in vogue. Dark movies. Gritty movies. Not the apple pie, God and country, flag waving musicals and comedies of wartime America. Betty was just not in style anymore.
Betty was also man crazy....one producer said politely:
"Betty Hutton would be a nymphomaniac - if we could slow her down."
And yes, several posters on this thread have nailed the reason.
During the war, people loved Betty for what she was doing - so she kept right on doing it.
Then the war ended and tastes changed...Betty kept right on doing the same thing - only the people didn't love it anymore.
If you don't think Betty Hutton could sing, just listen to her version of "I WISH I DIDN'T LOVE YOU SO."
Betty's sister, Marion, was a big band singer with Glenn Miller. She's a carbon copy of Betty, right down to the mannerisms.
At the link, Marion sings a scorching version of "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo"
Didn't they start out as a sister singing act?
Wonder what happened to Marion.
Betty was so tranquil in the GMA interview. We were a much better nation when people like David Hartmann and shows like GMA brought families together. It's just great that it all worked out in the end.
There is a house on 6th St. in Tucson, Arizona, with a sign out in front that says "The Betty Hutton House." It's not a museum, just a normal middle-class house. I always wondered what the story was there. Does anyone know?
R37, yes, AGYG was a big hit, but so was "Greatest Show on Earth" and "Miracle of Morgan's Creek".
"Greatest Show" even won Best Pic, cunt.
Had that GMA reunion taken place today, reality show cameras would intrude into the Hutton house to document the debacle.
Marion left the business in the mid-50s and moved to Washington State - her last professional appearance was a guest spot (as herself) on Betty's short-lived sitcom.
Marion married Vic Schoen, who had been the arranger/conductor for all of Decca's records in the 40s (Andrews Sisters/Bing Crosby) and 50s (Patti Page). She got a degree in psychology and disclosed she was an alcoholic - went into recovery and became a counsellor. Both she and Vic did a lot of good.
As with her children, Betty and Marion were estranged and never reconciled. Marion blamed Betty for their mother's death - a gruesome story you can read on wikipedia. But again as with the girls, Marion just couldn't deal with Betty's bi-polar/addictive personality. As she got older, Betty said she missed her sister more than anyone - because they had grown up together with no father and started together in show business very young and had been very very close. She never understood why Marion had walked away from her. It was very sad.
She was very talented but MORGAN's CREEK was the only time she worked with a great director and she needed direction. Without it, there wasn't a top she couldn't hurl herself over. Hell, even in MORGAN'S CREEK the film stops for a few minutes so she can do a lip sync impression in the record store. But whenever she's called on to do a dramatic scene her emotions were easily accessible and despite how broad they were, they were also very raw and real especially for the time.
The more I hear about BH, the more BPD she sounds. That she didn't understand why her sister and kids cut off contact with her speaks volumes. Typical BPD.
Guess Neeley O' Hara, was bi-polar too. No wonder Patti pulled that off so well. Isn't she one of the most recognized BPD spokespeople, who talks about getting control, becuse of Lithium ?
Betty Hutton also was on the faculty at Emerson College for a time, where she taught Oral Interpretation and Comedy Acting. I would have given much to have sat in a class taught by Professor Hutton.
[quote]even in MORGAN'S CREEK the film stops for a few minutes so she can do a lip sync impression in the record store.
Wasn't she doing "Asleep in the Deep?" Hundreds of thousands of young American men were shipping out for the first time in their lives in 1942 when this film was made. This was doubtlessly intended to be morale-boosting as well as comic. The film was held up for release until 1944 when it finally overcame the censors.
If Betty Hutton married Dick Button, divorced him and married Frank Sutton...
"yes, AGYG was a big hit, but so was "Greatest Show on Earth" and "Miracle of Morgan's Creek".
"Greatest Show" even won Best Pic, cunt."
I doubt the latter two were hits because of Betty Hutton's presence, douchebag. And "Greatest Show" is considered one of the worst Best Picture winners of all time you dumb fuck.
R74, a previous poster (you, perhaps?) described AGYG as being "IT," in other words, the ONLY big movie she ever made. We were pointing out that she made at least two other films that remain well-known to this day. Several of her other films were also big hits in their day even though they aren't as well remembered now.
And Betty's presence in THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK is an integral part of its success. No one else could have played that part as well as she did.
Anyone who hasn't seen THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK should definitely make plans right away to watch it. You'll see why the censors were confused.
And could somebody please start a Preston Sturges thread?
I think she had mental problems. I also hating her mugging and loud singing but she could also appear quite talented when singing a love song. Just another sad Hollywood story.
Pills and liquor.
IDK. In that GMA clip she seemed to have had a pretty good third act of her life reconciling with her daughters and being a grandma. I'd rather have good family and friends over fame any day.
[quote]Marion blamed Betty for their mother's death - a gruesome story you can read on wikipedia.
It's been over a year but if R67 or someone could come back and give some details, that would be great. The Wikipedia article you linked didn't have anything on their mother's death, and all I can find on Betty's Wiki is that it was in a house fire, in a home Betty had bought for her.
What happened that made Marion blame Betty?
A scorching case of herpes and a yeast infection she refused to treat.
Hutton is wonderful in "Miracle of Morgan's Creek."
I'd rather watch her in MOMC than any number of recent Academy Award winning performances, including Streep's.
[quote]Didn't they start out as a sister singing act? Wonder what happened to Marion.
Hutton was a big band singer who had a lot of success. At the link, she's the singer with the Glenn Miller Band in a scorching version of "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo." Her performance and appearance are almost identical to Betty's.
[quote]She had a major role in Cecil B. DeMille's "The Greatest Show on Earth" which won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1952.
I saw it a couple years ago. It was awful. There must have been some really terrible movies at that time for it to even be nominated.
Betty Hutton was hammy! She could have fit in with the Three Stooges or Rip Taylor doing mindless slapstick.
Betty's recording of BLUE SKIES is one of the finest ever! Second only to STUFF LIKE THAT THERE - Outstanding!
Betty Hutton did not suck as an actress. I, for one, remember her acting in various pictures. I don't remember her co-stars as much. Also, her parts didn't require a great amount of range.
Incidentally, Cornel Wilde was quoted as saying he came in 6th in the nominations for Best Actor of 1952, for "Greatest Show on Earth". He was rather proud of it, even though only five are officially mentioned. In those days, someone would leak such information to the stars.
She was wonderful in "The Greatest Show on Earth". She won Photoplay Magazine's "Favorite Actress of 1951, voted by moviegoers in this huge boxoffice success.
There's a huge story behind the reason "The Greatest Show on Earth" won the oscar over far more deserving films, like "High Noon".
John Wayne starred in a rival pic which was also up for Best Picture, "The Quiet Man".
Wayne opposed "High Noon" because he strongly felt it was un-American. It was the time of the Communism hunt in Hollywood. There are books about it, and a library should have them.
I met Betty Hudson once when she was a housekeeper at a Catholic rectory outside of Providence, Rhode Island. I had stopped into the rectory because I was selling Mary Kay cosmetics and I had gotten a telephone lead to stop by.
I never met the priests, but met Betty Hudson and I thought she looked familiar. She selected many cosmetics and signed her name on the rectory credit card and that's how I knew, so I asked. She was a little cross-eyed back then and you knew she was having problems, so I didn't fawn on her. I delivered the products the next week, but a priest signed for them.
Here is an interesting comment from a YT video linked here previously:
"It's too bad Betty thought she couldn't be replaced when she was so on top of her game here. . . Walking out on her contract because the studio wouldn't let her husband direct her films was disastrous. By then she had already made too many enemies with her temperament. She once asked Dorothy Lamour why nobody liked her. Lamour commented, "honey, you can't treat people the way you do and expect them to like you"...."
R89, "Betty Hudson"?? Did you really meet Blanche Hudson?
Thanks for the link R92. The only thing I can think Marion may have blamed her for is leaving their mother alone in the house if she wasn't really able to take care of herself, but that's just speculation.
I, for one, think she was great in Annie Get Your Gun. And she was much more appropriate for the role than Judy would've been.
Did her children abandon her AGAIN after that reconciliation on GMA?
I saw a fun revue show ("Nuttin' But Hutton") of songs she popularized a few months ago here in LA. She really did have quite a deep repertoire-- novelty songs, ballads, torch songs, etc.
R 95 - Obviously the answer is yes, as that GMA interview was in 1980, and none showed up for her funeral, when she died, in 2007. Very sad. She must have really been pretty awful to them, to not even pay their last respects. Things that were unforgivable. Maybe one will write a book ...." Betty Dearest"
Rosemary Clooney get herself together and was able to extend her singing career for decades by singing more standards and hiring the best musicians...do not believe Betty Hutton was even close to being capable of what Clooney did with some career help from Bing Crosby.