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Betty Grable

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Ruth Elizabeth Grable was born on December 18, 1916, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mother was a stubborn and materialistic woman who was determined to make her daughter a star. Ruth, who later became Betty, was enrolled in Clark's Dancing School at the age of 3. With her mother's guidance, Betty studied ballet and tap-dancing. At 13, Betty and her mother set out for Hollywood with the hopes of stardom. Lillian lied about her daughter's age, and Ruth landed several minor parts in films such as such as WHOPPEE!, NEW MOVIETONE FOLLIES, HAPPY DAYS and LET'S GO PLACES, all in 1930. In 1932, she signed with RKO Studio. The bit parts continued for the next three years. Betty finally landed a substantial part in 1934's BY YOUR LEAVE. One of her big roles was in COLLEGE SWING, released in 1936. Unfortunately, the public didn't seem to take notice. She was beginning to think she was a failure. The next year, she married former child star Jackie Coogan. His success boosted hers but they divorced in 1940. When she landed the role of Glenda Crawford in DOWN ARGENTINE WAY (1940), the public took notice of this shining bright star. Stardom came through comedies such as CONEY ISLAND and SWEET ROSIE O'GRADY, both in 1943. The public was enchanted with Betty. Her famous pin-up pose during World War II adorned barracks all around the world. With the pin-up and as the star of lavish musicals, Betty became the highest paid star in Hollywood. After the war, her star continued to rise. In 1947, the US Treasury Department noted that she was the highest paid star in America, earning about $300,000 a year-- a phenomenal sum even by today's standards. Later, Fox Studio, who had her under contract, insured her legs with Lloyd's of London for a million dollars. Betty continued to be popular until the mid-fifties when musicals went into a decline. Her last film, entitled HOW TO BE VERY, VERY POPULAR, was released in 1955. She then concentrated on Broadway and nightclubs. In 1965, she divorced bandleader Harry James, whom she had wed in 1943. Betty died of cancer on July 5, 1973 in Santa Monica, California, 30 years to the day she had wed James. (He died on July 5, 1983.) Betty's life was an active one, minus the scandals that plagued many stars in one way or the other. In reality, she cared more for her family and the family life more than stardom. In that way, she was a true star.
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